Is Your Resume “Smack in the Forehead” Obvious?

Simply put, your resume is a marketing tool to help you land an interview. And, like any good marketing piece, it needs to be built around the needs and expectations of your target audience–in this case, hiring managers. Is your resume connecting?

In Land Your Dream Job in Portland (and Beyond), career consultant Jenny Foss (AKA: Job Jenny) shares her expert advice for crafting an effective, compelling, and clever resume.

Here are three of her top tips on how to connect with your audience in a resume:

Speak to your target audience

A good resume explicitly connects your skills, background, and personality to the needs of the prospective employer. If you’re not clearly connecting these dots, you’ll lose out to another applicant who does.

“It needs to be smack in the head obvious,” says Jenny. Don’t assume that the value of your skill set is self evident or that skill transferability is inferred in the text. “No one is sitting around deducing about you!”

To speak directly to the issues that decision makers find compelling, you probably need several customized resumes. Draft a unique resume for each general type of job for which you are applying. (For example, one version for communications positions, another for marketing jobs, and a third for public relations gigs). This gives you an opportunity to emphasize the skills and experiences most relevant to each position.

Jenny also suggests including a summary introduction on your resume–in place of the largely defunct “mission statement”–that is hyper-customized to the specific job. This summary should be 3-4 bullet points that specifically address how you meet the requirements listed in the job description.

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Find the keywords, use the keywords

The words and phrases used in the job description aren’t there by accident; they are very intentionally used to convey specific meaning and reflect the organization’s culture. They are also a function to attract a certain kind of candidate–namely the kind of candidate who can identify and repeat this language in their application!

Thoroughly review the job listing for keywords and phrases related to the skills needed for the position. (You may also want to review the organization’s website and social media profiles for important language cues.) Make sure these words make it into your resume. Again, don’t be subtle here… copy the language verbatim!

This is particularly important if you are applying through an automated application processing system. These tools don’t “read between the lines” to infer whether you are qualified for the job; they are looking for specific words and phrases, and you either have them or you don’t.

Make words earn their spot on the page

Don’t try to fit your entire work history into a two page resume–focus on the skills and experiences that speak directly to the job for which you are applying. For example, there is no need to note work experiences more than 15 years old, unless they are vital to the new position you are exploring. Likewise, don’t waste too much space on accomplishments that can’t be translated into the required skill set; it’s more important to use that space talking about immediately applicable skills.

Remember: the most important thing is to showcase the information that illustrates you can do the job as advertised. The more obvious you can do so, the better!

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