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If you’re not getting interviews, chances are, the problem is your resume. If you’re using an outdated, general resume, that could be what’s stalling your job search. A general resume is like one-size-fits all clothing. It usually fits no one.
A job-targeted resume is the way to sell to your customers’ expressed needs, rather than telling them what you want or trying to guess at what they want. Understanding your customers’ needs and then satisfying them first in your resume and then on the job is the foundation of professional success.
How to create a job-targeted resume
The Target Job Title appears at the top of your resume, immediately after your contact information, as a headline for the whole document.
Follow your Target Job Title with a Performance Profile rather than a Job Objective or Career Summary. This is because it speaks directly to the needs of the Target Job Title and because hiring managers link the phrase with performance reviews. Your Performance Profile should echo the most important deliverables of the in the words identified as having most meaning to employers.
The result is that your grasp of what’s important in this work and your ability to do the job is immediately communicated along with the words that will have great resonance to the reader and most effect on the search engines.
Knock Em Dead Tip: if the recruiter can’t see in about 10 seconds that you have at least 50% of the qualities they are seeking for their client, they’ll move on to the next resume. That’s right, 10 seconds. A seasoned recruiter can scan that quickly. So make it count.
Capture the most important deliverables of the job, turning them into a short narrative, ideally no longer than five lines. If more than five lines, a second paragraph or bullets will enhance the visual accessibility that is so important to getting your message across.
A Core Competencies Section follows this. This part of your resume should list as many of them as you possess. You might also include any other skills that you know to be relevant.
This helps database visibility because it guarantees you are using the words employers use, and by getting them near the top of the page, you ensure they carry more weight with the algorithms of database search engines.
Following a Target Job Title and Performance Profile customized to that target job, your Core Competency section lists all the skills required to execute the responsibilities of the job. For the reader evaluating your resume, each word or phrase acts as headline for a topic to be addressed at the interview and increases the odds of that interview happening. It also means you have all the critical information an employer would need to screen you in the first half of the first page, which succinctly demonstrates your critical thinking and written communication skills.
You can repeat Core Competency keywords throughout the body of your resume within the context of each job in which you used them, doubling the number of relevant keywords and further improving your resume’s performance with the resume database search engines.
Keep things tightly focused
Keep your resume tightly focused. Tell what you can do but do not tell how you do it. This saves valuable space, and the how is more appropriate to the interview.
The age-old standard for resume length used to be one page for every ten years of experience, and never more than two pages. However, as jobs have gotten more complex, they require more explanation. For many IT people and professionals with significant experience of management in the higher ranks, a two-page resume is almost impossible to achieve.
The length of your resume is less important than its relevance to the target job, and a two-page resume that has the right stuff, but is illegible because of layout and the ridiculously small font you had to use to squeeze everything onto two pages, doesn’t advance your candidacy.
If the first page of your resume is tightly focused and contains a Target Job Title, a Performance Profile built on employers’ on top priorities and a Core Competency section based on the same research and packed with relevant keywords, you will have the reader’s attention by the time he gets halfway down the first page. When the first page makes a convincing argument, the rest of your resume will be read carefully.
A longer resume also means that much more space for selling your skills with relevant keywords and that many more opportunities to establish your brand. (FYI, the higher up the ladder you climb, the more likely that tiny fonts to save space will cause eyestrain and won’t be appreciated.)