Employers are awash in a sea of resumés. That’s why you should customize yours to the particular job you’re applying for. This will make you a stronger candidate because your resumé will better reflect what the employer wants.
Here are six steps to customizing your resumé effectively:
1. Do your research. Chances are, you’ve been eyeing some jobs that are nothing short of the perfect match for you. Find three to five of them and print out the job postings and specifications.
(MORE: 24 Best Resume Keywords)
2. Find the posting’s keywords. Now that you’ve found the jobs that charge up your career goals, pull out a highlighter and highlight the keywords in those postings, paying close attention to the ones that directly apply to you and your background.
3. List the most popular keywords you see. Take a look at the keywords you highlighted. See which ones showed up more than once. Then, list the most popular five to seven on a sheet of paper. These are the keywords you’ll want to optimize on your resumé.
(MORE: 6 Job Search Tweaks to Find Work)
4. Add those keywords into your resumé. Next, take a hard look at your resumé. Are those five to seven keywords showing up prominently? Would you be able to find those keywords in the first 10 seconds you looked at your resumé?
Your goal is to ensure that the keywords you spotted are used, in context, on the first page of your resumé, preferably on the top half of the first page.
If they don’t, you have some reformatting to do. Take the time to alter your resume to include these keywords prominently.
5. Put muscle behind those keywords. Listing the words on your resumé is one thing. But to really put some muscle behind those keywords, add some quantifiable measurements to them.
For example, if you want to use the keywords “customer service” to demonstrated that you’re skilled at this, state how many years of customer service experience you have, how many customers a day you’ve served, and what that added up to in sales. Like so: I have eight years of customer service, assisting an average of 10 customers per day, representing $100,000 of sales per year.
Even if you’re not sure about the exact numbers, include some reasonable estimates that will bring this keyword to life in a measurable way.
6. Customize your cover letter, too. Only about half of all job applicants include a cover letter with their resumés and roughly a quarter of those cover letters are customized with job-specific keywords. Your cover letter may be the first thing an employer sees about you, so you’ll want to tuck in keywords about the job to show that you’re a worthy candidate.
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