You’ve probably seen references to customizing your résumé to each job you apply for, as it’s one relatively easy way to increase your chances of standing out as a candidate. What exactly does that mean, though? Here are suggestions for four major components of most résumés.
Of course, always make sure that the ways you choose to customize your résumé work with the format that’s right for you and the job.
- Objective—This is your statement about your current goals and the ones you have for your career. Make sure that your objective lines up with the job, or that it fits into your vision for your career; if not, or if your objective talks about other kinds of work entirely, the recruiter isn’t likely to read very much further.
- Employment History—Your work history isn’t something that actually changes, but the way you talk about it can. What about your past jobs make you qualified for this one? Can you demonstrate consistent development of key skills for the job you want? Tweak each job in your history to show experience and success relative to the job you want.You may also find it useful to limit your history just to jobs that relate to the one you’re applying for.
- Education—Just like your employment history, your education itself doesn’t change, but you can change the way you talk about it. If you had courses, internships or activities that align with the job you want, make sure that you mention those.
- Skills—You may have a lot of different skills, but the ones right for the job you’re applying for right now should be the ones that you emphasize. Look at the keywords in the listing, see where they match your skills, and put that information at the forefront.
Putting It All Together
Remember, your customized résumé is good, but it might not even get a look from the recruiter if your cover letter isn’t also customized; the two documents should tell the same story about you, so make sure that you’re emphasizing the same attributes in each.
When it comes to the interview, remember that you’ve already promoted yourself in a certain way, so use those talking points in response to the interviewer’s questions. It’s helpful to practice with a friend, too, or with an app, so the ideas come easily when you need them.