UPDATED ON 12/23/2021
Nobody fancies tailoring resumes. That is precisely why we should pay more attention to it with these three stages.
There is one thing everyone hates about writing resumes more than creating one. Tailoring.
In the past few weeks, I have encountered a number of new clients who have made it a point to instruct me to produce resumes that does not require any tailoring whatsoever.
Let me be clear. I am more than a simple resume writer. I am a resume coach. I write the best resumes for all my clients to the best of my ability based on each individual’s background and intent. However, I will push back if I believe a client wants me to do something that would actually be a disadvantage for him or her.
Writing a resume that can be used for any job is not just disadvantageous; it is not possible.
Thankfully, tailoring can be made easy.
Why Tailoring Resumes is a Thing
When we apply to a position online, the first things our resumes would likely encounter is either a recruiter or the applicant tracking system (ATS) aka the computer.
What do these two things have in common?
Well, one, both act as the gatekeepers for hiring managers. And two, neither of them truly know what the actual jobs entail.
So what do they go by?
The job descriptions.
But if the words on our resumes do not match those on their job descriptions, then how would they know we are right for the job?
When we accept this reality, the issue becomes how do we show that we are a great fit for the company and the role while staying true to ourselves.
This is feasible with moderate tailoring.
Career Bank, Master Resume, and Tailored Resume
You are probably scratching your head with that first item in the section header there.
The common concept of a master resume and a tailored resume should already be ingrained for those of us who have been in this job search process in recent years.
Still, I have slightly upgraded those common definitions to work better in this day and age.
Career Bank (aka Career Lego Collection)
The career bank, which I fondly named the Career Lego Collection, is a tool that I solely conceived.
Similar to the traditional definition of a master resume, the Career Lego Collection compiles absolutely everything I ever did in my career. It’s an Excel template where I can do a brain dump on every aspect of my career. Every accomplishment. Every task. Every position. Every keyword. Every tool. Even every personal brand statement. It allows to me to flesh out and think more thoroughly about my accomplishments, their results, and their impact on me.
With the collection, I am basically molding my Lego pieces. My resume serves as my canvas to assemble these pieces.
Every time I tailor my resume, I fetch my collection and pick out the pieces that are most relevant to that job. Once pieces are ranked, I scan for any keywords that need to be added or replaced.
Of the three forms of resumes, the Career Lego Collection takes the most time and effort to construct.
Fortunately, this is achieved upfront before the search starts. Once completed, the time spent on tailoring resumes for each job description drastically reduces because I do not have to stress myself to brainstorm for the right bullet points and the right keywords during a time crunch. I just have to select them from my collection.
Traditionally, the master resume includes everything we have ever done in our lives by definition. this has resulted in 8-page resumes for many of us.
So I redefined it.
The master resume doesn’t comprise of everything. Instead, the master resume shows our top skills and proudest accomplishments, empowering us to put our best foot forward within two pages.
Congrats! Tailoring has begun.
Let’s relive this scenario.
A recruiter, headhunter, or someone you hit it off with at an event discloses an interesting position and asks for your resume. Yet, when you request a job description, he or she can provide none.
Should you wait until there is one? Absolutely not!
So what should you do?
In comes your master resume.
Because the job description doesn’t exist, we have the luxury of showing our ideal selves with a desired main title and with our favorite areas of expertise. Moreover, no matter how many years we have been in the workforce, we surely would have learned the typical words commonly used in our discipline and industry.
So, in a way, if we already know the jargon used in our profession and we use those words in our master resume, we have actually tailored our master resume with relevant keywords without realizing it because they have now become innate to us.
And if we can to this, then we have won half the battle in tailoring our resumes.
Still uncertain about which keywords to use? Then research and select three to four job descriptions of similar roles. Highlight the keywords and identify the ones that appear in most, if not all, of them. Once done, try to incorporate them in to the master.
Now, a tailored resume is used when we do have a job description to guide us.
We use this one when we have to examine the job description for relevant responsibilities and keywords so that we can match our resumes to it. Every time.
We dread this.
With the all-too-common recommendation to match the job description by 80%, I used to spend up to four hours tailoring my resume, trying to use all the keywords while keeping it grammatically correct. Many of my clients have done so.
I could have applied to five different jobs in that same amount of time.
Now, it takes me 30-minutes or less to tailor my resume.
Firstly, that 80% match recommendation is ridiculously high. As mentioned in my very first JobScan article, we run the risk of being suspected of copy-and-pasting the job descriptions to our resumes and of looking overqualified even when we are not. Plus, it may show little room for professional growth. So my advice is to go for 50% to 70%.
Secondly, since the master resume already consists of industry jargon, the only keywords we need to pay attention to are those significant to the specific job description. These rarely pop up in job descriptions from other companies, so they are only important for that particular role at that particular company. These are the words we want to try to incorporate in our tailored resumes.
Finally, remember, when tailoring a resume, it means more than using the right words. It means composing it with the right experiences. That’s where the Career Lego Collection comes in.
Look, I get it. Nobody likes to tailor. I hate tailoring myself.
Nonetheless, its existence means something. In the current climate of how hiring is done, it has become a highly accepted and recommended step in the whole job search process.
By not tailoring our resumes, we are actually making the recruiters and the hiring managers out to be enemies because we would be saying we do not care about making their jobs harder. And that is not a good start for our relationships with them.
But making their jobs easier does not have to mean taking on the work and making our own jobs harder.
If the trick I mention in this article is applied, the tailoring process will at least be more amiable.
Want to download my Career Lego Collection template? Contact me.