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Getting the job you deserve through resume tailoring

By Weronika Z Benning, on 19 May 2016

Guest blog post by Volen Vulkov of EnhanCV

What’s Resume Tailoring?

It’s been about 2 years since I founded Enhancv, an online resume platform. And as a given, I’ve seen and critiqued countless resumes. One of the biggest misconception when it comes to resumes is that “one size fits all.” You sit down for half an hour, craft a resume, send it off to 30 different companies and then play the waiting game. For a week. Then two. Maybe even four, before you realize that you’re not getting a response. Why, you may ask in anguish. Well, that’s because your resume isn’t meant for ANY of the jobs you applied for. The resume describes your experiences, but it doesn’t say what exactly you’re offering THEM – which is, after all, what the whole recruitment thing is all about.

Why should I tailor my resume?

Two main reasons – First of, ATS is the gatekeeper to the recruiter’s inbox. Companies tend to receive over 1,000 resumes per open position. Imagine having one HR, 3 open positions, and 3,000 resumes to scrutinize. That’s pretty much nigh-impossible – and that’s where the ATS comes on. The ATS, which stands for Applicant Tracking System, is used to set up certain criterias, such as years of experience, location, etc. Then, it scans your resume to see whether you pass the bill. Say, whether you’re in a nearby location, or if you have the needed years of experience. The most-used criteria are as follows: location, education, experience, skills, and GPA. So, your resume can be the most amazing thing the recruiters ever seen, but unless the ATS agrees, no one gets to see it.

Even if you get somehow get past the ATS without optimizing the resume, there’s still the recruiter to impress. See, in most cases, recruiters don’t want someone who’s looking for some random job that pays the bills. They want someone who cares about where they’re going to work, someone who’s actually passionate about their field. It’s really easy to differentiate a tailored resume from a general purpose one. One opens doors, the other slams them in your face.

So how do I tailor my resume?

Glad you asked! The first step is to find 2-3 companies you’d enjoy working at. Not just the celebrity companies everyone keeps talking about – the fact that they’re all over the news doesn’t necessarily make them perfect for YOU.

Then, you need to learn as much as possible about the companies (For this, you can use Glassdoor.com, or the company websites). What’s their culture, for example? Are they a laid-back startup, or a conservative multinational corporation? Each has separate values & beliefs, and each is looking for a different type of person. For the first case, a personal, customized resume can do wonders. For the second, it won’t get a second glance. Instead, you’d need a standard, black and white resume with a rigid structure. Or, you could figure out who’s the HR. What kind of a person are they, what do they value, and how, exactly, you could impress them (you can either Google them, or check out their LinkedIn profile).

Once you already know the ins and outs of the company, it’s time to take a look at the job offer. No, not the usual 5 second glance and a prompt email. You have to actually READ it.

First of all, you need to ask yourself whether you’re qualified for the job. If it requires 10 years of marketing experience and you have 2, it’s obvious you shouldn’t even bother with it. On the other hand, if they’re asking for 5 and you have 3, you should still go for it. The years are estimates, and not concrete. You can be better at a job with a year of experience VS someone who has 5, if you’re passionate and determined enough.

Then, you need to figure out what relevant experience do you have (this, specifically, applies to most university students). This doesn’t strictly mean field experience. Any kind of experience that’ll be useful for the specific job will do. Let’s say, you’ve worked 16 / hours a day in a restaurant to pay your tuition. That means you’re hardworking, and willing to do what it takes. What kind of an employer wouldn’t want someone like that?

Once you’ve got all that figured out, it’s time to start working on the resume. Do mention the following:

  • Relevant information. Are you familiar with software & tools the company employs? If not, you probably should read up on them. Ever worked in a similar field? If the jobs in marketing and you’ve done it as an extracurricular, it’s something that should be mentioned.
  • The same keywords as in the job description. Most companies rely on applicant tracking systems to filter through the candidates. So, if they’re looking for a) a marketer b) with 5 years of experience, and c) located near London, you need to mention all three, otherwise, the resume gets to go on the bottom of the pile.
  • Traits that would be relevant for the job. Say, you want to work in a startup. Resilience and determination is the way to go here. 16 hour workdays with low pay and high risk aren’t for everyone, after all. Do make sure not to use buzzwords without backing them up, however. That’s probably one thing recruiters hate the most – a resume littered with “power words.” Communication skills! Team player! Etc. None of those mean anything unless you back them up with experience.

Once your done with the resume, go through it again. Ideally, what you want to see is a picture-perfect example of a person working in the company.

If you’ve got all that covered, then it’s time to wrap it all up and send it in!