Beyond the Template
Getting Your Resume Started – That Was Then
About 10 to 15 years ago the resume was a different creature than it is today. You'd write your resume with an “I did this for my company” tone. You might then get 25 copies printed on heavy-stock, off-white paper for your mailing campaign. At this point, you were “done” with your resume!
You'd then begin the process of finding people or companies to mail your resume to, maybe adding an occasional “Dear Sir or Madam” cover letter if you felt it was necessary. Occasionally you'd use the resume to apply for a specific job, but in most cases you'd simply mass-mail various companies' HR departments and hope that someone would read your resume and try to match it with an open position. (Those days are long gone!)
Today, your resume is never finished. Yes, you might have "completed" a default or template resume written in Word on your PC. It has a nice, “key accomplishments” tone; it oozes with industry-specific keywords; the action verbs are everywhere, and it even has a great look and feel (fonts, formats, page count, etc.). Then, just like the old days, you start looking for people or companies to send your resume to. But here’s where it gets different:
Getting Your Resume Started – This is Now
With detailed job postings easily available, you need to take your template resume and tweak it to “match” the specific job posting. You look through their keywords and find the ones that are relevant to your skills and talent. You then supplement or replace as many of your keywords with their job-posting-specific keywords as you can!
Next, look at the tasks they are asking the candidate to perform. Find your similar activities and reword them to sound more like their phrasing. You now look through your resume and remove items that have little or no relevance to the job posting. Your goal is to make the resume and the job posting “match.”
Then, with the help of a friend, you read--out-loud--each of the key requirements of the job description and ask your friend to find the related items on your resume. (No prompting--they have to find the matches without your help!) If they can connect 90% of the tasks and keywords from the job posting directly to your resume, it’s ready to submit online for that job! If a printed resume was requested, print the new resume on nice, white paper with your ink-jet printer, write a short cover letter and mail it in a neatly hand-lettered envelope.
Taking the Next Step
Now, repeat the process outlined in the three previous paragraphs for the next job you are interested in.
“But that means I might have to write and manage dozens or even hundreds of resumes.” Yup, but that’s easy enough with the help of a computer and with tools such as spreadsheets, job hunting websites or even an old-fashion accordion folder. The point is, if you want your resume to stand out and be noticed, each time you respond to a job posting you must put in that extra effort to make sure your resume jumps out at the recruiter as being the best match possible.
“So, is there nothing I can do with my template resume? Can’t I send it to someone?” Yes, there's a use for your nicely formatted, template resume — it’s for posting on the resume and job board websites so that recruiters and companies can find you.
Since you aren't applying to a particular job when posting your resume on these job boards, you can put your “generic” resume out there for all to see and find. But when it comes to responding to a job posting or to a recruiter asking for a “formatted” (Word) version of your resume, make sure you send them the one that has the greatest chance of landing that interview--the one that tells them, “I wrote this just for you!”
Bottom line: Develop a great “template” resume you can use on generic resume sites or job boards, or to carry with you to networking meetings. But when responding to a specific job posting, tailor your resume to the job posting as though it was written to match you and your resume! Keep track of which resume was sent to which recruiter or particular job posting. Don’t be generic when you can be special!
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