How to tailor your CV/resume to get more interviews
Tailoring your resume for each job you’re applying for might sound like a time-consuming task, but it can significantly increase your chances of securing an interview.
A big mistake I see many job seekers make is using the same resume for every job vacancy regardless of the industry or job title. It’s a strategy that will get you nowhere fast.
As a senior recruiter at Expedia and an interview coach, I see lots of job seekers who keep sending the same resume for various jobs they’re not entirely qualified for, and they have no idea why they’re getting few to no interviews.
What they don’t understand is that if their resume is cluttered with information that’s irrelevant to the position they‘re applying for, it won’t get a lot of attention. Yes, tailoring every application is a lot of work. But it’s worth the work when you get noticed by the right employer.
If you apply the strategies outlined below, I guarantee you will get more interviews. Let’s get started…
1. Understand What the Company Is Looking For
When you’re looking at lots of job descriptions on a daily basis, it’s easy assume the positions you’re applying to are similar enough that you can just send off your resume without really looking into what that particular job entails.
In reality, this is a major mistake. What one company defines as “Account Manager,” for instance, may be entirely different from what another company thinks the role encompasses.
No matter how certain you are that you know what the company is looking for, before submitting anything, you must actually read the job description. So many people who apply for my jobs clearly don’t — the last time I was recruiting for a fluent German-speaking marketer (which was one of the first requirements listed on the job description), less than 20% of the people who applied actually spoke German.
2. Fine-Tune Your Keywords
A lot of companies use tracking systems, which mine data from your resume by looking for relevant keywords or phrases. You will have to make small modifications to your resume to ensure the applicant tracking system identifies your resume for further inspection.
Highlight the key words in a job description that interests you. If you look at the job posting and say to yourself, “I’ve done these things,” you want to make sure those skills are actually reflected in the same language in your resume.
Next, tweak your resume so it contains keywords that correspond with the description in the job posting, especially if they’re industry jargon. Examples of keywords might include specific computer programs or words like “social media strategist,” “management” or “accounts payable.”
For example, I was recently looking for someone with online partner marketing experience, search engine marketing, e-commerce and travel experience. The profile that attracted my attention had a relevant job title (Senior Search Engine Marketing Specialist), the candidate worked for an online travel company, and they mentioned all relevant keywords (e.g. analyzing bid performance, testing new strategies such as ad copy templates, working on new SEM bidding strategies).
Bear in mind, though, that a personal profile that just contains a load of buzzwords is completely useless and a waste of space on your resume; you should avoid the “team player with great communication skills” clichés. If this is all you have to write in your personal profile or summary, then leave this section off as it will not add anything to your resume.
3. Tailor Your Summary to Match the Job Description
Your summary of qualifications or skills should be different for each job you apply for. Look at the job description, find the most important qualification the employer is looking for and write your summary showing that you have the skills and experience needed.
Here’s an example of a summary paragraph for an administrative professional:
Efficient and reliable administrative professional with 8+ years of experience supporting executives and salespeople to improve internal operations for small businesses. Proficient in all of the standard office desktop software, CRM applications and design programs. Diversified skill sets covering administrative support, client relations, report writing, account management and project management. Excellent interpersonal, phone and digital communication skills.
If you have included an objective in your resume, be sure that objective also matches the position you’re applying for. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen an objective on a resume that’s in no way relevant to the position the candidate is applying for!
If you’re applying for a technical role, your technical skills (software, databases, programming languages, etc.) should appear in this section of your resume.
4. Highlight Your Relevant Accomplishments
Experienced professionals should avoid punishing recruiters with very long resumes unless you’re applying for an academic job where you need to provide details of research projects and publications.
List specific achievements that point to the value you bring to an organization and place them right on the first page of your resume.For maximum results, choose strong resume action verbs that show what you’ve done.
Did you hit your quota for a certain number of months? Make that known. Do you know an important computer program? State that. Your resume is not the place to try to minimize your accomplishments. You only have a few minutes to impress an employer, so make sure you do it.
For example, if a recruiter requires someone with “effective leadership and interpersonal skills,” don’t just say,”I have effective leadership abilities.” Instead, give evidence of your leadership skills with concrete examples, such as:
- Directed a sales team to achieve 20% profit.
- Coached staff to improve employee retention by 30%.
- Supervised a work team to deliver X project that saved $X in travel costs.
Make sure the achievements you choose are relevant to the jobs you’re applying for.Sometimes, I see resumes with some impressive accomplishments, but if they have zero relevance to what I’m looking for, I won’t be able to consider the candidate.
Tailoring your resume is one of the best ways to show prospective employers that not only do you have the skills and experience they’re seeking; you’re the right candidate for the job. They’re likely to see you as more qualified when everything on your resume is relevant and, in my experience, many hiring managers are impressed that you took the time to tailor your resume, which bodes well for your interview prospects.
Margaret Buj is an interview and career acceleration coach who specializes in helping professionals get any job they want at their best ever salary. If you want to find out how recruiters read resumes, why you’re not getting hired, how to sell yourself successfully in a job interview and how to negotiate your best salary yet, you can download her free “You’re HIRED!” video course.