3 Simple Steps to Customize Your Resume Fast



If you've heard it once, you've heard it a hundred times – never submit a generic resume! The best way to get noticed is to customize each and every submission for the exact role to which you're applying.


The problem? That can take hours upon hours to do! Online applications are time-consuming enough. You've already spent so long updating your resume. Who has the time to go through it all again for each individual job?


Have no fear, job seeker. The process of resume customization isn't as daunting as it may seem. In fact, with just a few simple steps, you can finely tune your resume and improve your chances of getting that coveted interview.


In order to do this properly, you must first understand the basics of online application systems and how they work.

According to a Recruiting Software Impact Report, issued by business software research company Capterra, about 75 percent of companies use an applicant tracking system (or ATS). These programs allow companies to gather data from job seekers and automate many parts of the hiring process.


These database systems can also be used to filter out applicants who don't meet predefined criteria. For example, if you're applying for a corporate training position, the system may be set up to search your application and verify that you have a set number of specific keywords related to the role (such as: curriculum design, facilitation, talent development, etc.).


If your application doesn't have the keywords they're looking for, you're likely to get a rejection – or your resume will simply fall into the black hole of applications. This is why people who believe they're a perfect match for a role might never get a call for an interview. If you're not using their language and citing the specific terms they want to see, you're all but invisible.


So, when customizing your resume, you're really trying to match the keywords found in the job description. This is the most valuable use of your time and it's a fairly quick process, once you know what to do.


1. Review the job description and note the keywords.

First, read the job description thoroughly, and take note of the keywords used. Keywords are typically nouns or noun phrases that highlight a specific skill or set of skills. For example, project management, data analysis, customer service and business development are all keywords.


The keywords used for each job posting may vary, but within the same field they will generally remain consistent.


Take note of which keywords appear toward the top of the job description and those that appear frequently. The company is telling you, very clearly, that these items are most important to them.


2. Adjust the bullet-point accomplishment statements in your resume to match the keywords found in the job description.


With this list of keywords in hand, you can now turn to your resume. Go through each statement on your document and revise the wording so you can incorporate the specific keywords they have used, in the exact way they have used them. For example, if you have referenced your "expertise with Salesforce" and the job description asks for a "Salesforce.com expert," revise your resume to show the latter.


This may take some creativity, but assuming your skills are a match for the role, the language adjustments you're making should be relatively minor.


3. Create new bullet-point accomplishment statements, if needed, to ensure you cover all the most prevalent keywords.

Finally, it's worth your time to create a few new sentences, if needed, to cover all your bases. If the job description indicates that a certain skill is needed and it's not specifically cited in your resume, add it (as long as you have the real experience to back it up).


As you do this, create a master document that holds all the various accomplishment statements you've created. That way, in the future, you can simply pull the most relevant ones to build a customized resume for each position.


Remember: The job description you see online is your best tool. The company is giving you clear instruction about what they want. Don't expect them to read between the lines and figure out that your experience is a match. If that's what you're hoping for, it's likely a human will never see your information because the ATS will filter you out first.


This process becomes second nature once you've done it a few times. If you're applying for roles that you don't have much experience in, and for which your skills are not necessarily a match, it will be more time-consuming. You'll have to rely on transferable skills, but you'll still need to follow the basic methodology.


Lastly, be sure to save your customized resumes and note which companies you submitted them to. That way, when you get the call for an interview, you can go back and review what they've seen. Then, all you have to do is knock 'em dead in the interview!