I’ve spoken or interacted with several job seekers recently who think that customizing their resumes for specific opportunities is a waste of their time. I’ve even heard from a professional resume writer who agreed with that approach.
One resume, sufficiently generalized to cover a wide range of employers and opportunities is fine. They say.
Every recruiter I have spoken with strongly disagrees with one-version-of-your-resume-is fine philosophy. They believe that resumes should be customized to the opportunity the job seeker is applying for. And, below, are 5 reasons why.
Five Good Reasons to Customize Your Resume for Each Opportunity
You can find many reasons (or make many excuses) for not taking the time to customize your resume. But here are 5 reasons why you should:
1. To stand out from the crowd.
Each job posting receives an average of 250 responses these days. That’s quite a bit of competition! When your resume is obviously customized to the opportunity, that customization is an instant – and a very important – differentiator.
2. To make it very clear that you are qualified for the job.
Perhaps as a result of the deluge of resumes resulting from most job postings, the first time a human being sees your resume, they spend an average of 7 seconds to determine if you are qualified/interesting or not. If it’s not very obvious that you are qualified, you are out of consideration. Eliminated in 7 seconds.
Perhaps some of the estimated 80% to 90% of “unqualified” applicants who are rejected do actually have the qualifications, but their qualifications are buried among the bullets in a standard work history resume.
Those qualified job seekers are assuming that the recruiter or employer will carefully read through their resumes to discover those qualifications. Not going to happen in that 7 second scan!
If resumes don’t obviously connect the dots between the job requirements and the applicant’s qualifications, those resumes are rejected with all of the other unqualified applicants.
3. To demonstrate genuine interest in the opportunity.
Recent studies show that job seekers spend an average of 80 seconds (less than 1.5 minutes!) reading a job posting before hitting the “Apply” button. And, employers are pretty fed up with resume spammers.
So, going back to those 250 submissions in number 1, above, employers want to see clear evidence that the job seeker is genuinely interested in the opportunity – not just another resume spammer hitting the “Apply” button for every job they see.
By taking the time to customize your resume to this employer’s opportunity, you are clearly demonstrating your interest.
4. To ensure that the appropriate keywords are included for the automated screening.
Because of the high volume of responses for most job postings, employers and recruiters often store resumes and applications in an automated “Applicant Tracking System” (or “ATS”).
If your standard resume doesn’t contain the keywords used in the job description, the likelihood that your resume will turn up in the recruiter’s search of the ATS for qualified applicants is very low.
Customizing your resume to include the keywords from the job description should greatly increase the probability that your resume will be found in that recruiter’s ATS search. Being found in the ATS search means your resume will be seen and receive consideration.
5. To demonstrate your technology and business savvy.
Employers want employees who understand how to use technology for business. You demonstrate lack of understanding of both technology and the hiring process by not customizing your resume, giving employers this impression of you:
- You do not understand how to use word processing software well enough to customize your resume, and/or
- You do not understand how to leverage current Internet technology to your advantage, and/or
- You do not understand how competitive the current job market is.
None of those negative impressions represent characteristics that are sought after by employers in their new employees.
Your Mileage May Vary
Yes, your resume may still drop down the infamous black hole, even if you customize it. However, based on the input from every recruiter I’ve discussed this issue with, your chances of avoiding the black hole increase with the care you take customizing your resume for each opportunity you apply for. It should be an investment of time that is very well spent!
More on Effective Resumes for Your Job Search
About the author…
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 2011, NETability purchased WorkCoachCafe.com, and Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoach since then. Susan also edits and publishes Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Google+.