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Updating Your Resume for Specific Jobs

Jan 18, 2008
When applying for a job, your ability to meet specific hiring criteria is essential. With the unemployment rate increasing, individuals are now competing against hundreds of other job applicants with similar backgrounds and qualifications. Simply providing a list of your education, background, and professional experience won't set you apart or get you that interview.

Today's hiring managers do not have the time or resources to investigate an applicant's skills as they relate to a particular opening. Rather, its up to the applicant to showcase relevant skills, aligned with the needs of the employer.

A Step-by-step Approach To Tailoring A Resume:

1. Use online resources to determine job requirements within the targeted industry. Search online job sites such as Hot Jobs or online versions of newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, New York Times for employment openings. Within these postings will be the job requirements. Each requirement that matches your qualifications should be included in the opening summary of the resume. This provides immediate and relevant data to a hiring manager. It tells them that you are a serious contender for the position, because you have the skills and background to do the job.

2. Determine what is most important to the employer, such as educational background or professional experience, and list it in that order. The most important section should follow the opening summary. However, if the posting does not specify that experience is required, and the only experience in the field is of an academic nature, then Education should always be placed before non-related Professional Experience. The key is to place relevant information first.

3. Prioritize data within the resume that meets the requirements stated within the job opening. As an example, if the opening is for an IT professional, then all relevant computer skills (including years of experience and certifications) should be presented at the beginning of the resume, preferably showcased in a separate section immediately following the Qualifications Summary. Don't hope that hiring managers will search for this data, they won't.

4. Pull out industry jargon (also known as keywords) from the job posting. One example would be a posting for a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) would include key words such as GAAP, tax audits, IRS, reconciliations, financial statements, etc. When a candidate's experience matches those keywords, then they should be included in the opening summary of the resume. (eg: Additional skills in GAAP, tax audits, other IRS-related matters, reconciliations, and financial statements.) Failure to provide keywords, especially when submitting to large corporations that use scanning software to search for this industry jargon, will result in the resume being dismissed.

5. Use the appropriate formatting and tone as it relates to the targeted job. A sales professional, for example, may use a more stylish format and perhaps a more casual approach in wording, if appropriate to the targeted industry. If that industry were pharmaceuticals or educational book publishing, a conservative approach would be employed. The entertainment field or high fashion would warrant a more stylish/casual approach.

6. Include ONLY what is relevant to the targeted position. If the candidate has numerous degrees in different fields (i.e. Biology, Marketing, Art History), but is seeking a position as a Biologist, only that degree should be listed. Resumes do not contain an exhaustive listing of all academic pursuits or jobs worked. They should only contain what is essential as it relates to the targeted position.

By using these simple approaches to highlight your skills, as required by the job opening, you can set yourself apart from like candidates. Today's hiring managers are looking for someone who can do a specific job. If you are qualified, be sure to highlight your capabilities and communicate why you're different. Hiring managers will take notice and see you as the ideal candidate for their job opening.
About the Author
Michael Fleischner is the Managing Director of ResumeEdge which provides resume writing services, cover letter help, and resume samples. Learn more at http://www.resumeedge.com.
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