Earlier in the week I had the opportunity to talk with a recruiter for a large insurance company. I was able to ask her about how she reads a resume, what she looks for, and what drives her crazy. There were really no new revelations that came out of the conversation. However, I did receive further confirmation that the thing that drives HR people craziest remains a lack of relevance in the resume.
Always keep in mind that there is no such thing as a generic, effective resume. Remember, when you write a resume that tries to appeal to everyone, it actually ends up appealing to no one. This same recruiter shared with me that she received more than 2,000 resumes for 20 openings that she was trying to fill. Bless her, she said she looks at every resume that comes in. However, she said that if the resume is not relevant to the position she is trying to fill, she quickly moves on to the next candidate.
This is where my quality versus quantity theory comes into play. You will be better served, and get more results in the form of interviews, from sending out fewer resumes every week that you have worked harder on preparing. Here is an example of the process you should go through when you customize a resume:
1. Read the job posting with a highlighter. Highlight the key words, skills and qualifications.
2. Research the company using the methods described in this blog post.
3. Use your research to determine the motivation for the company hiring for this position. For example, are they expanding their operations, are they having quality concerns, or are they about to acquire another organization. In the course of your research, try to identify the name of the hiring manager.
4. Determine how your skills, experience and qualifications can meet the company’s needs that you discovered in your research.
5. Start with your summary of skills section of your resume. Ensure your summary is a synopsis of how your skills and qualifications match the needs of the company.
6. Review the highlighted key words from the job posting and your research. Go through your resume to ensure it contains all the listed keywords. Use previous measurable accomplishments to offer evidence of your ability to use these key skills.
7. Customize a cover letter addressed to the hiring manager by name and addressing the needs you discovered during your research.