How To Make Your Resume Fit and the Tailor It Swiftly Methods

SelfTailoringAll of this talk about resumes, how to write them, how to use them, and how to fix them is dangerously close to creating an expectation in the eyes of some job seekers that if you only could just find that right format and style that the Fairy Godjobber will wand you and POOF you have a job. Think again, Cinderella! Real life doesn’t work that way. There are two key FACTS that every job seeker needs to understand and etch in permanent long term memory:

  • Fact 1 – The resume is the easy part. It is an uphill battle to get that resume in front of a hiring manager and if you are not willing to fight that battle you have lost before you start.
  • Fact 2 – If you are not a fit for the job, no resume in the world is going to make you a fit. The choices are to find a job that matches your skills or change your skills to match the job you want.

Two years ago I wrote a series of ten articles on Job Seekers: Think Like a Recruiter which I may revisit and revise some day, but the basic concept of that mindset is that looking at a job search from only one perspective is shortsighted. It is not about either side winning, but that both sides are winners. Knowing how the system works from the other side allows you to swim where they are fishing.

When the resume does finally penetrate the fog and reach someone, the best chance of getting a face to face meeting is to have it answer the hiring managers’ problems. It needs to be the sleeping aid to the nightmarish situations that keep them up at night. For most applicants a single resume can get the job done, but there are times that it falls short of telling the best story. There is a ton of non-specific advice to tailor the resume to the situation, but most people are either too lazy to do it or believe that their beautifully styled one-size-fits-all resume will be good enough to dazzle everyone with its brilliance. Even the reality of common sense dictates that you can’t waste time rewriting the resume for every job application, so there must be more nimble ways to make the best impression. There are two RULES for tailoring a resume:

  • Rule 1 – Never send multiple resumes that look like different people. If side by side comparisons of your resumes in a database look too dissimilar, some may question your truthfulness.
  • Rule 2 – The need to tailor the resume grows as your career grows. There is less need for recent grads with no experience than there is for someone with multiple jobs over a career.

The “tailor it swiftly” method is to prepare for different approaches to having readily available preformatted ideas ready to launch at a moment’s notice.

  1. Single Resume with Multiple Summaries – The introductory paragraph (which we are refusing to call an Objective) can be rewritten for each type of application. Assuming that all the key skills and accomplishments are already contained somewhere in the document, this methodology brings them to the top, highlights the match to the job, and encourages the reader to read further for details. Examples could include programmers with experience in different platforms.
  2. Multiple Single Purpose Resumes – The easiest way to send a resume on short notice is to have two (not more than three) resumes pre-tailored for various types of jobs. These would be applicable to career transition points in which strengths for a single track would be highlighted using the same basic skills. Examples may be scientific researchers that may be seeking either a management or individual contributor role.
  3. Pruning a Super-resume – The usual course of action is to agonize over the items to include in a standard 2-page resume format. Assume that there is no constraint on length and compose your full curriculum vitae in as many pages as it takes. At the time of application, edit the super-resume down by trimming the unnecessary fat and leaving the applicable meat. Examples could be generalists who are also fully qualified to act as specialists, such as in human resources.
  4. Plug-in Bullet Points – Establish your resume as a template with all the basic information included, but maintain a separate list of additional bullet points that can be inserted to highlight specific areas of interest. I know some people that set up a fancy mail-merge type document and then select the appropriate bullets, but that may be overkill. Simple copy/paste works nicely, but make sure you re-read the entire resume for continuity.
  5. Virtual Resume Services – There are several services that currently advertise dynamic resume databases that keep your resume in the cloud and provide it on demand to employers. I’m convinced that some form of this technology will take over, but I’m still skeptical about totally trusting in them 100%. By all means don’t ignore them, but don’t relinquish control of your resume or application to a machine. You need to be in control of the message and the medium that sends it. There are driverless cars in development, but I’m not ready to trust my life to one.

Going back to the beginning of the discussion on tailoring a resume, don’t waste time on it if you don’t need to do it. It is important to keep good records on which formats are the most successful for you. When the phone rings, you absolutely must know the format you used and the message you delivered.

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