Applying to a new job requires wanting to put your best foot forward. You want to stand out to the hiring manager for the right reasons, but demonstrate your skills in a positive manner. Standing out too much could mean a negative response or no advancement in the recruiting process. Not standing out enough could mean fading into the background of the resume stacks piling on desks.
While your traditional resume will be able to represent you well, how can you ensure that you can best position yourself for each career opportunity? Putting in the additional effort to customize your resume for each role you apply to will not only be worth the time investment, but it will set you up for greater job potential.
Job descriptions are meticulously built. They are filled with professional and technical specifications for the role, in addition to responsibilities necessary to be successful in the position. Each line and key word was chosen for a reason, seeking candidates who have handled those responsibilities in the past or understand the technical and soft skill specifications. Preparing your resume for a job submission is not about reinventing the wheel, but rather incorporating their desired wish list into what you have to offer. Your resume should not only present your skills and personality, but also show how you would blend effectively with the company.
Each time you find a position that you feel you are highly qualified for, print out the job description and highlight keywords that are emphasized in the description. Focus especially on keywords that also resonate with you and your background. Once you have gathered those keywords, look at your resume and determine where you could add those spark words and phrases so they are not only visible, but also representative of your background and strengths. They should be quickly recognizable when the hiring manager looks at your resume and not haphazardly set. It is not enough to say C#, but rather to give a number of years’ experience with the language or if any specialized projects were performed using the skill.
Since skills and responsibilities were chosen for a reason by the hiring company in the job description, it is only natural to include those keywords and phrases in your introduction to the company. Traditionally, it has been a common practice to customize your cover letter when applying for a new professional role. As your cover letter is an introduction to the employer about who you are and what you have to offer, why not customize the remainder of your introductory conversation. A first impression is more than merely hello!