personal branding

Targeting Your Resume for Different Jobs

Do I Really Need to Target My Resume for Each Job? Almost every client I work with has some nuances to their search. Really, aren’t we all a little diverse in our experiences? Interestingly, for the ones who are not, that’s always the biggest roadblock in their pursuit of happiness…they are stuck in a box […]

Do I Really Need to Target My Resume for Each Job?

Almost every client I work with has some nuances to their search. Really, aren’t we all a little diverse in our experiences? Interestingly, for the ones who are not, that’s always the biggest roadblock in their pursuit of happiness…they are stuck in a box and can’t get out. Resume targeting can help you ensure you don’t seem scattered or generic to a hiring manager.

For the rest of you, the challenge is this. How do I create a resume that will allow me to apply to lots of different jobs? Do I need lots of different resumes? What is the best way to approach resume targeting?

It’s a doozy, right?

Here’s the deal. Applying to jobs is time-consuming. No one is organized enough to maintain 7 different resumes and keep track of changes you make, then apply that across each. If you are, you should immediately change your career focus to professional organizer!

Develop a Master Resume for Resume Targeting

What I do with my clients is work with them to identify their professional brand first. Figure out that particular brand of awesome that makes them different, what sets them apart from the competition, and then – most importantly – how to sell it and to whom.

It can be daunting (torturous, even) to work on things like this alone. Endless evaluation and self-examination, comparing yourself to the competition, figuring out the competition, back to the self-evaluation. It’s exhausting!

Working with a professional resume writer with expertise in personal branding can help you identify your target market, define your why, and articulate exactly what makes you most attractive to hiring managers.

Craft a Career Narrative 

While not necessarily a deliverable you’d share directly with a hiring manager, developing your career story, the overarching narrative that connects the dots from a to z in your career, will help you sell yourself in a natural and authentic way.

Career Stories & STAR Stories

Once you have that messaging buttoned up (I usually write brand stories in first person for my clients), you can start to layer in the micro-stories or STAR statements that you will use as proof of your transferable strengths in your resume and LinkedIn profile.

The STAR Stories, written in Situation Task Action Result format are how you connect with hiring managers/recruiters and answer behavioral interview questions (all those dreaded Tell Me About a Time ones).

Once you have defined your personal brand and established the narrative, you can start to build out your Master Resume. This will be the container for all you most memorable achievements and should be written in a way that allows you to quickly customize.

What is the Best Way to Customize My Resume? Resume Targeting 101

So, how do you apply to different jobs – what are the keywords from the job description that need to be in your resume to attract the right recruiters?

That can all be found in the job description, company websites, and even LinkedIn profiles of people in the role that you are applying for.

A few quick customization features that make resume targeting more streamlined are to focus on the branded headline, the skills, and prioritization of bullets.

Branded Resume Headlines

Your headline is the first line of text under your personal info (name/address) at the top of the resume.

Using the job you are applying for is one of the simplest and most effective ways to tell recruiters and hiring managers what you want and who you are. 

Customized Skills Sections

You should include mostly hard skills in the skills section (tools, platforms, things that are tangible or quantifiable), but soft skills directly relevant to the role work too. 

Don’t put anything in the skills section that you don’t back up in the main body of your resume below, and be sure to take the time to customize this section. When applying to a job, do a quick scan of the job description (JD) and ensure that have as many skills captured in your resume as is appropriate.

Prioritize Resume Bullets Based on the Job Description

When you read a JD, try to elicit the following:

Who is the hiring manager?

  • What is thier primary job function?

What is the pain point or problem the person in this role is solving.

Once you get clear on those questions, you can begin to modify the main body of your resume (the professional experience sections) accordingly.

Pinpoint the bullets/stories most relevant to the JD you are applying for and move them to the top. Sometimes, you need to adjust the result delivered to emphasize results that are more aligned with the role, which is nothing more than interpreting the data through a different lens.

You can also add keywords at the beginning of each bullet that help clue in a hiring manager to what this bullet is going to talk about, and modify these as well.

I’m Good On Resume Targeting: What Else Can I Do to Improve My Job Search Success?

If all you are doing is reviewing job descriptions, targeting your resume, and applying, you’ll burn yourself out. Particularly in a touch job market, this is a daunting and somewhat overwhelming chore.

A good rule of thumb is that resume targeting should not take more than 20-30 minutes. If it does, you’re applying to too many types of jobs, which means you need to revisit the targeting and alignment step of job searching.

Although it should not take you more than a few minutes, if that’s all you’re doing, it’s exhausting. Before you know it, you’re stuck on a hamster wheel, running around and around in circles.

How do you get off? Simple! Stop focusing all your attention on the online job market.

  1. Differentiate yourself with a powerful resume aligned with your target role. Create a resume that is unique and that clearly articulates your value, then quantifies the results that come from that value.
  2. Reach out to your network building a strong network. Once the job hits the open market, it likely has already been filled. Only 20% of jobs are filled through online application.
  3. Don’t apply for jobs that you are not qualified for! Just because you “could” do that job, doesn’t mean someone you have never met will contact you to interview you for it. If your dream job is a reach job, you need to work that from another angle. The job boards will not work for you.
  4. Stop obsessing over your resume. Work with a certified and proven expert, invest in yourself, and then focus your efforts on your search strategy. Instead of tweaking your resume every hour, spend that same 15 minutes on LinkedIn, using the powerful search feature to find 5 hiring managers. Reach out to them!

While your resume is always a work in progress, it’s only 1 component of your search. If done right, it should be very easily customized for different opportunities. The trap that many people fall into is focusing only on the resume because it feels controllable.

Your Resume is Only One Piece of Your Job Search

I challenge you to flip the script! Take control of EVERY aspect of your job search.

Start building a rich network with connections that will enable you to access jobs before they hit the open market.

Take control of your personal brand – don’t let others interpret what you are and what you can do. Make it easier for people to help you find your next opportunity by getting clear on what you are great at and where you can add the most value.

Once you do that, resume targeting becomes easier! 

Book a discovery call to learn more so we can get started creating your story.

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