4 simple steps to a targeted resume

To increase your chances of landing a job interview your resume should target the specific job you’re applying to. Employers can easily spot a resume that has been used to apply to a variety of different jobs. These resumes are most often rejected. Employers favor resumes that demonstrate the job seeker took the time to target the resume to their particular job opening.

Job seekers mistakenly think this means having to rewrite their entire resume for every job application. Not true. Follow these four simple steps to help grab an employer’s attention.

Write a targeted objective. The objective tells the employer which position you’re applying to and briefly mentions specific skills or relevant background information that immediately grab the employer’s attention. Listing an objective that could be used for any job opening at any company is a waste of space on the resume. See the Career Services Career Guide for sample targeted objectives.

Use industry-specific keywords. Pay attention to the specific requested skills listed in the job description. Employers will use these key words and phrases to help evaluate the resumes received. Make sure that your resume includes key words from the targeted industry. Incorporate the key words into job duties and a Skills section on the resume.

Add a “Related Experience” category. Do you have previous experience that relates to the position to which you’re applying now? If so, include it in a category called “Related Experience” that you could list before the “Employment” section of your resume. It’s okay to do this even if the related experience took place before jobs in the Employment section. Resume entries must be in reverse chronological order within a category. Remember, related experiences aren’t limited to paid positions. Internships, volunteer experiences, even significant on-campus activities count.

Organize resume categories to market your background in order of relevance to the job. List the objective first on the resume. But the category order from that point depends on the job to which you’re applying. For some job seekers, your degree may be more targeted to the job opportunity than your work experience. In this case the Education section should be listed before Employment. For others, your work experience might directly related to the position and should be listed before Education.

Creating a targeted resume is simple

It’s a question that career counselors hear all the time when reviewing job seekers’ resumes:

“Do I really have to target my resume to every position I apply to?”

You really don’t have to…unless you want to increase your chances of landing an interview.

Generic resumes don’t tell the employer how your skills and qualifications can benefit his or her company in the specific role they’re hiring. Not taking the time to target a resume may show a recruiter you’re not serious about your job search.

If you want the employer to know why you’re the candidate for the job and that you do take your job search very seriously, read on to learn five simple strategies for preparing a targeted resume.

Know that writing a targeted resume doesn’t mean rewriting your entire resume. You can’t change your education or previous work experience, so you’re not reinventing the wheel with every application.

Start with the objective or career summary. Listed at the top of the resume, either of these categories grabs an employer’s attention and encourages further reading. An objective should state the position to which you’re applying, the name of the company (if you know it) and quickly mention relevant qualifications (skills, education, etc.). Career summaries are a little longer and often utilized by job seekers with multiple years of experience or specific accomplishments they wish to market. It should still be tailored to the employer. Target both. If your degree isn’t specifically relevant to the job, no need to mention it; list your skills instead. If the degree is important for another job, be sure to market it.

List a summary of skills section and use industry-specific keywords. Here’s where you pay attention to the job posting, specifically the requested qualifications. What specific skills are listed? It’s these skills that made you say “I’m qualified for this job.” List these skills on your resume. Know the keywords for your targeted industry and make sure they’re represented.

Consider a “Related Experience” category when appropriate. Of all your previous jobs, is there one that stands out as more related to the particular position to which you’re applying? If so, consider listing that position in a category called “Career-Related Experience,” and place it before the “Employment” section on your resume. Resume entries must be in reverse chronological order within a category. If your job from two years ago is more relevant to a position you’re applying to now, creating this category highlights that experience.

Reorganize categories. An objective and skills category should be first on the resume. But the category order after that depends on the job you’re applying for. Of the remaining categories, which one is most relevant to the position? The answer determines your resume’s category order for each job.

Creating a targeted resume may add some additional time to the application process. But targeted resumes shorten the amount of time you spend job searching by increasing your chances of being hired sooner.