In simpler times, back before everyone had a home computer, and before the emergence of the Internet, people used to use typewriters, paper, and postal mail. When you wanted to search for a job, you sat down at your typewriter and typed up your resume. If you were engaged in an aggressive job search, you would take your resume to a stationery store, purchase some 80-pound bond paper, and have multiple copies of your resume made. Customizing your resume for each position was both unwieldy and impractical. It was simply too onerous to do for each position, and no one expected it either.
The game has changed. Over the last 25 years, it has become not only easier than ever to customize every outgoing communication, but it has come to be expected. People ask me all the time if they need to tailor their resumes for each specific role, and my answer is always a resounding “YES!”
One of the things that the advent of the Internet in general, and social media in particular, has led to is information proliferation. The average office worker is bombarded by up to 2000 times as many messages per day as was the office worker of the 1980s. Everyone is vying for your attention, all the time. Promotional messaging has become something beyond competitive. It is cut-throat.
Once your resume reaches an actual human being, you have approximately six seconds to make an impression. Yes, six seconds is the average time someone spends scanning a resume. So, you need to grab their interest immediately. Your resume is a promotional tool for yourself and not a legal document, so it’s perfectly fine to exercise some creative (but never inaccurate) discretion.
Read the job description. Copy and paste the description into a word cloud and see which words come up most frequently. The top five words are going to be the keywords for that particular job description. Be sure to integrate them into your resume. Next, write a compelling, interesting, and succinct profile statement. This is your opportunity to tell readers why and how you can solve their problems. Focus on the business pain, and your ability to alleviate it. Don’t make the mistake of using this valuable real estate to talk only about your experiences. You must relate everything on the resume back to the business problems that the hiring manager has. I have often said that the interview is not about you; it’s about the hiring manager’s immediate pressing need. To a lesser extent, this is also true of the resume. Although a resume demonstrates your career progression and your achievements, its purpose is to resonate with those making the hiring decisions.
Take the time to review your resume and remove any meaningless words and terms that might be lingering. As long as we are on the subject, banish the following back to the 1980s where they belong:
Responsible for/duties include: No one cares about the tasks you performed. They care about achievement.
Assisted/worked with. Choose stronger verbs.
Team player. As if anyone wants to hire someone who is not?
Loyal. This is for puppies.
Ninja, Jedi Master, Guru. Remember that above all else, Yoda was humble.
Use these suggestions to bring your resume into the Millennium!