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Targeting your resume

The Hiring Process

Question:

I've heard that I should target my resume to the job I want. What does that mean, and why do I need to do it?

Answer:

You do need to make your resume match the job lead you’re applying for, as closely as possible.

For instance, as your objective, use the job title in the job lead, even if you’ve never been called that before. Write about the experience you have that is relevant to this job. Focus on accomplishments more than daily duties, especially the ones that show you are the perfect person for this job.

Be sure to use the keywords straight out of the job lead. Use the same form of the word it uses. If the company wants a manager, then you are a manager, not a supervisor. If they want someone who knows Word, Excel and PowerPoint, then list your skills in the same order.
Keywords are important, because so many companies use Applicant Tracking Systems. The computers are programmed to pick out the resumes with the most keywords for further review. Does the resume with the most keywords belong to the best candidate? Maybe, maybe not. But that’s the candidate who knows how the system works.

Targeting your resume to the job of the moment means that you’ll probably have to change it, at least a little, every time you send it out. Take the time and trouble to do that. It will serve you well in the end.

About the Author

Beth Davis-Reinhold

Beth Davis-Reinhold is an instructor at Frederick County Workforce Services, where she has worked for over 20 years. She teaches job search seminars and basic computer skills. She is a Certified Professional Resume Writer, and is Internet and Computing Core Certified (IC3). Beth has been a member of Toastmasters International for more than 15 years, and is an Advanced Communicator Silver. A graduate of Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, Beth has also studied American Sign Language for many years. In addition to many sundry projects for FCWS, Beth writes its “Ask the Career Coach” blog.