When you really want a job, you don’t want your resume to subtly hint that you might be a suitable applicant; you want it to scream that you’re the perfect candidate for the position.
And that, of course, is why you tailor your resume.
In short, that means customizing your bullet points to feature skills relevant to the role and rearranging sections to bring the most applicable experience to the top.
But have you done enough to make sure that you stand out as an ideal candidate? Before you hit “send” on that perfectly crafted application, make sure you’ve tailored your resume correctly by running it through these four last-minute checks.
1. The Quick Scan
First, glance over the job description for your desired role. Then, skim your resume. Do the same keywords, skills, and responsibilities stand out in both?
If you’re applying for a sales development position, for example, the description of the role might include phrases like “grow revenue” or “build relationships.” At a glance, your resume should show how you’ve increased revenue and fostered client relationships in previous roles.
If the job description includes the word “copyedit,” your resume should give preference to that word over synonyms like “proofread.” While it may be a simple wording preference, it’ll make your candidacy clearly apparent to the human (or robot) reading your document.
If you struggle to see how your resume matches up to the job description, you likely have more work to do.
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2. The Top Third
Research indicates the recruiters just spend a couple seconds looking at a resume. To add to that, they may view your document on a smartphone or tablet—limiting their already quick glance to just the top third of the page.
That means your most compelling experience and accomplishments should stand out in the upper portion of your resume.
In an article about resume customization, Muse writer and career development specialist Lily Zhang explains, “Tailoring your resume means finding what is most relevant, creating a section for it, and filling it up with experience or qualifications that will catch a hiring manager’s eye.”
If you look at that top third and don’t immediately see something relevant to the role you’re after, start rearranging. Whether your most pertinent content is your professional experience or a volunteer project you did on the side, that’s what should be bumped to the top.
3. The Search for Company Values
From your research on the company, you should know its core values—one company may value innovation, while another hones in on generosity and teamwork.
You can also usually find these values reflected in the specific job description, where it species that candidates should work well across departments, communicate clearly, or have a laser focus on meeting quarterly sales goals.
When you scan your resume, you should be able to clearly spot those values in the context of your accomplishments and experience. For example, do your bullet points convey that you simply “Trained new hires” or that you embodied the company’s core value of teamwork as you “Collaborated with a team of 6 to develop and implement a training curriculum for new employees?”
Impressive accomplishments on their own may be enough to get by, but embodying the exact values and skills a company is looking for will demonstrate that you’re not only a qualified candidate, but a perfect culture fit, too.
4. Enlist a Third Party
Before you put your resume in front of the hiring manager, ask a friend to read it—without telling her what position you’re applying for or showing her the job description.
Then, ask her to share her first impression. What skills and accomplishments stood out? If she had to guess, what kind of position are you using this resume to apply for?
If she assumes that you’re going for a social media manager role, when you’re actually hoping for a position as a content marketer, your resume may not hit the mark. Sure, those roles may overlap a little, but your resume should make it abundantly clear the role you want and why you’re qualified for it—so those small differences matter.
Customizing your resume—and then double checking that you’ve done it correctly—can make the job search process tedious. But when a hiring manager picks up your resume and, with a quick glance, can immediately tell you’re a great fit for the role, you’ll be glad you did it.
After beginning a career in management, Katie realized she wasn’t doing what she loved and determined it was time for a major career transition. Now, as a staff writer/editor for The Muse and a content marketing writer for a healthcare IT company, she gets to do what she loves every day—write and edit content ranging from demand generation campaigns to career advice. Her career and management content has been published on Forbes, Mashable, Business Insider, Inc., and Newsweek. Find her on Twitter @kgwolfie.More from this Author