The job market isn’t getting any less competitive, and one of the best weapons you have on your side is a well-written resume. If you haven’t touched your resume in months (or years), then it’s already in need of an update.
But you shouldn’t just update your resume, make it more competitive! While there are many strategies for sharpening your resume, creating and customizing a “core” resume is an effective approach.
Here’s how to create a competitive resume:
Create a Core Resume
Building a core resume means including all of your employment details into a “master” resume that can be tailored to meet specific job application – that means including all of your skills, accomplishments, education, certifications, and work history.
It’s time consuming, but once you create this well of employment data, drafting customized emails for each job will be much easier by eliminating the time and hassle of re-writing everything.
You’ll need to include the following details into your core resume:
- Personal Details: You’ll need to include your name, date of birth, address, phone number, and email address
- Objective Line: Write a short, but broad career objective (ex. I want to continue my professional development and grow with a dynamic and innovative company).
- Summary Statement: Write a two to three sentence paragraph that outlines your professional qualifications, competencies, and interpersonal skills.
- Employment History: Include the company name, location, your position, how many years you worked there, your duties, and any notable achievements in chronological order. It’s important to write your duties and achievements succinctly in a bullet list (first bullet = most important/ last bullet = least important).
- Education: List your education certifications by the course of study, the educational institution, how long you studied there, and any academic achievements you earned.
- Interests: List all of your hobbies, giving special importance to anything “job-related.”
- References: List all references you have. If a prospective employer asks for references, you’ll be ready to provide them instead of making last minute calls or emails to old bosses/co-workers.
Customize Your Core Resume to Fit Your Job
Never send your core resume or a half-hearted customization attempt to job postings. Unless you want the HR manager reading it to trash your resume, make sure you do a first-rate customization job.
Remember, it’s not enough to match 50% of the duties and requirements an employer is looking for on a job posting – they’re looking for employees who fit their organization’s needs completely.
Here are a few resume customization tips that can help you become a better job candidate:
- Get Intelligence: Whether the job posting is vague or well written, you should contact the company to ask what skills they value in an employee. Use this information to amend and strengthen your resume’s focus (ex. If the company wants a customer friendly employee, highlight your customer service skills, relationship management skills, etc.).
- Use Keywords: Look closely at the job advertisement when customizing your resume. Pay very close attention to the keywords used in the advertisement such as the job title, job description headlines, qualifications, and keyword phrases. This will help you get past HR screening and the automated resume screening software used by some companies.
- Be Selective: Apply only for jobs that reflect your strengths and experience. If you’ve got 2 years of experience as a marketing executive, but the employer is looking for a director with 10 years of experience, you’re wasting your time. On the other hand, if your skills and experience match 75%+ of what the employer is looking for, think of relevant job experiences that can satisfy that remaining 25%.
- Revise Your Objective: You must use the same job title you’re applying for in your resume’s “objective” line. This eliminates any chance of your resume being trashed because the screener or automated resume screening software didn’t recognize the job title you were applying for.
- Revise Your Summary Statement: Your core summary statement should be optimized with all of the info presented above. Think of it as an elevator pitch selling yourself to your prospective employer, but with added emphasis on your soft sills and admirable personal traits.
Polish Your Resume
After customizing your resume, it’s easy to assume that it’s ready to send to employers. But you shouldn’t make the mistake of sending an unpolished resume to job postings. That’s because having a formatting or typo error can prevent you from landing the job that you want.
Don’t let your hard work go to waste. Polish your resume and double-check the following:
- Use the MS Word spelling/grammar check tool to correct any immediate errors that appear.
- Ensure the accuracy of all your employment information (dates, location, etc.).
- Stick to using one consistent font and check the font sizes for consistency.
- Refrain from underlining words and using non-standard bullets for your resume.
- Ensure that all of your paragraphs and headings are consistently aligned with each other.
- Ensure spacing is normal (ex. spacing after periods, line spacing, paragraph spacing).
- Avoid using different color schemes for your resume and stick to black and white.
It’s also a good idea to have another person check your resume for any mistakes you may have missed. You can also have a professional proofreading service go over it as well for peace of mind.