You have a great resume, great experience, and a great cover letter, so why aren’t you getting any interviews? You may be missing one key factor in the application process, which is customizing your resume to fit the specific job postings. Many people use generic resumes that list their main skills and ask to obtain vague positions such as “Internship in Marketing.” While using this generic resume is very convenient, it could be detrimental to your application.
Why should I adjust my resume to fit the job posting?
Most employers today use applicant tracking systems (ATS). An ATS scans resumes electronically in order find the most likely candidates. When your resume is being scanned the computer is looking for predetermined keywords and phrases. If you don’t have at least some of these keywords then your resume may be virtually invisible to the system, regardless of how good it is. For this reason alone it is essential that you adjust your resume to showcase your skills that match the job posting.
How do I adjust my resume to fit the job posting?
First off, it’s important to make a clear distinction between the job description and the job requirements/qualifications. The job description gives a brief overview of what you’re responsibilities will be if you receive the position. The job qualifications are a list of the skills and experiences they want from you. You’ll want to make sure and adjust your resume according to the qualifications listed and not the job description.
How do I use the qualifications section to my advantage?
Once you have found the qualifications section, you can start searching for any potential “keywords” or phrases. These keywords are either transferable skills such as teamwork, leadership, and communication or they are skills specific to the profession such as software, coursework, and certifications. Below I have provided an example list of qualifications from a real job posting:
- College level engineering coursework; high school graduate
- Technical capacity
- Strategic thinking
- Problem solving/analysis
- Communication proficiency
- Computer skills, including Microsoft Office and Access
This list is pretty straightforward as far as job postings go. Qualifications such as the college level engineering coursework and computer skills are low hanging fruit. You can easily add these skills to your resume by listing the courses and software if you haven’t already done so. The coursework is typically included in one line underneath the school in the Education section or in its own section. The computer skills and software are typically formatted the same as the coursework and often in a separate section.
As for the other skills, these are typically shown best through descriptive bullet points in your experience sections. Below I have come up with a few example bullet points that someone might use to incorporate these skills into his or her resume:
- Provided maintenance for multiple assembly lines on shop floor. (Technical capacity)
- Developed individual exercise programs for five clients. (Strategic thinking)
- Developed strategy and test plan for designing and testing HVAC system. (Strategic thinking)
- Resolved any customer complaints on a daily basis. (Problem solving)
- Analyzed tensile test data for five material specimens to be used in a prototype. (Analysis)
- Communicated design requirements and data between three team members, the project manager, and the manufacturing team on the shop floor. (Communication proficiency)
- Collaborated with a team of three engineers to meet project requirements. (Teamwork)
Theses are, of course, just examples. On your actual resume you will want to be as specific as possible, and still be concise. The bold words in the bullet points are words that the ATS might pick up for this job posting so they would be good to include. This kind of strategy can also be used in cover letters.
So there you have it! Hopefully this post has sparked some good ideas for how you will tailor your resume to your next job application. It’s a general rule that if you meet at least 75% of the qualifications on a job posting, you should apply. So what are you waiting for?! You can stop by SCC 22 anytime we’re open (M-F 8-4:30) to have your resume reviewed by a Peer Educator. We also host Resume Drop-ins every Tuesday and Wednesday, 2-4pm, when classes are in session. Keep working hard on that application and good luck!
Of Possible Interest:
- Incorporating Strengths Into Your Resume
- Resume & Cover Letter (Blog topic page with a listing of ALL our blog posts about resumes & cover letters)
- Ace the Job Search (Pinterest board)
- Internships (Pinterest board)