A typical job search class for entry-level people includes a full session on résumé writing. After everyone has completed writing their résumé, the instructor announces that the students may make as many copies as they want for their use. Some will happily print 100 copies. This may not be a good thing because one résumé may not fit every job a student may apply for. A résumé must be customized to fit each specific job.
Why is it wrong to use the same exact résumé for similar-sounding job openings? Think clothing. Not every pair of same size jeans fit me the same.
Some brands are comfortable, others I cannot wear. Same with jobs. Not every graphic design or HVAC job is created equal. One employer may expect a clerk to deal with the public in another office a clerk deals exclusively with paper and computer terminals. Some laborers are expected to solve problems; others’ duties are routine. Different employers emphasize different things. Thus you will need to make changes, perhaps minor, to make sure your résumé fits the job.
Job search writer Sara L Hansen advised job seekers to target each position. “Each résumé you send should be customized to that specific job and employer. Use an objective or profile to keep the résumé focused. If you lack time or motivation to customize your résumé, don’t send it”
Some job seekers objected to this advice:
• They believed that one résumé is all they needed.
• They perceived it difficult and time-consuming to make changes to their résumé for each job applied for.
• Some believed that anyone who at least applied deserved an interview.
• Some considered the “preferred qualities” in job announcements as insignificant compared to “required.”
How to customize your résumé to a job opening: Begin with a sheet of lined paper. Draw a line down the middle. On one side list every item from the job listings: requirements, preferred, and even soft skills such as dependable. Now read your résumé. If a sentence covers a requirement note it in the other column. Make sure your customized résumé has information that confirms you are qualified for this particular job. At the same time your résumé will contain some information that will be irrelevant to a specific job. This information can be deleted to make room for the more significant information.
Keywords: One way to customize a résumé is to identify a job opening’s key words. For example: developmentally disabilities, dependable, customer service, windows server environment,time management and HVAC were key words take from help wanted ads in a local newspaper. If you have those keyword qualities, make sure these show up in your résumé.
Cover letter: Don’t want to change your résumé? Then spell out your qualifications for the specific job in your cover letter. Information telling the employer “I’m qualified” usually is given in the third paragraph. Many job seekers rehash their résumé in this paragraph, which I consider dumb. Instead, this paragraph should show why you are the graphic designer to hire from all the others who apply.