Determine Resume Facts from Resume FictionBy Christiane Soto,

Want to know how to make me think you are lazy?  Send me a generic résumé, asking me to consider you for a specific job opening.

Guaranteed bad impression.

I have read advice columns that say not to customize your résumé. The logic goes that if you have a well-written résumé in the first place, your experience should stand for itself.  This line of thinking implies that it is the recruiters’ responsibility to make the connections between their job opening and your experience.  If you have laid out your résumé correctly, then this should not be hard to do.

I agree with this line of thinking on only one level – that, if the résumé is well-written then this should not be hard to do.  However, they are not taking the time to make these connections; recruiters typically spend about 6 seconds looking at your résumé, or use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to help them cull through their pile of resumes. Why? They are very aware of the astronomically high cost of a bad hire, so they are looking for keywords and phrases that will indicate that the person is the “perfect hire”.   If they do not see enough, they move on.

The job market today is vastly different from the job market of the past.  Years ago, when interviewing for a new job at a Silicon Valley-based application software firm, the hiring manager complemented me on my 6+ years of oil & gas industry experience.  I thanked him for the compliment, and asked him where the synergies were between the two industries.  He simply looked at me and said “none….I can teach you about applications software…you can teach me about oil & gas”.  I was offered (and accepted) the job, but that conversation has stuck with me over the years, because it is not something I will ever hear today. Now, companies have extremely rigid and narrow specifications for their job applicants.  Their “perfect hire” is a person who has done the exact same job before, used the same computer systems and software packages, and has many years of same-industry experience.

Chances are you are not this “person”, and (therefore) your standard, one-size-fits-all résumé will not be chocked full of enough keywords and phrases that will allow either the recruiter and/or ATS to pass it on to the next stage in the hiring process.

Let’s look at the same issue from a different perspective – that of the hiring manager.  This is a person who is about to spend a lot of money for you to do a specific job.  In his mind, if you cannot rise to the occasion to create a job-specific résumé, highlighting your skills and accomplishments in a way that shows how you would be the best candidate, then what level of effort are you going to put in if you are hired?  The assumption is “not much”.

However, there is one simple way to combat this impression.  Customize your résumé for each and every job you apply for.

Want to know how?  I have 3 great resources for you to peruse:

1)       Snelling Résumé Guide –  if you want step by step instructions, you have come to the right place.  Download this free guide, and flip to the section titled “Targeted Résumés”

2)       5 Easy Steps to Customize Your Résumé for a Particular Job – if you want to stand out from the crowd, follow these 5 easy steps.

3)       Résumé Tips for Applicant Tracking Systems – learn 5 tips that will increase your chance of getting your résumé through to an actual recruiter.

In addition, I would like to make my own shameless plug for the résumé section of the Snelling Candidate Resource Hub, where you can learn how to write that perfect résumé.  In addition, bookmark this blog or subscribe to its RSS feed.  We publish weekly job search advice, geared to help you find your perfect job.

NOTE:  A full-color downloadable PDF is available.