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Tailoring Your Resume to Accentuate Your Assets

Meet Sally. Since Sally graduated from Cornell with a 4.0 GPA, she’s been on the express train to professional glory, landing a prestigious position at a high-profile Investment Banking firm the day after graduation. Sally has all the experience, all the qualifications needed for the Financial Planning position for which she’s applying. We’re all envious of Sally, and Sally is confident in her success. So confident, in fact, that she neglects to tailor her resume to the specific Financial Planning job she wants. Even though Sally is perfect for the role, she isn’t invited for an interview. After opening the e-mail bearing the bad news, Sally buys a bottle of red wine and cries herself to sleep, while reading After the Trade is Made, her guilty literary pleasure.

Don’t be Sally. You wouldn’t wear an old frumpy suit into an interview. Even Sally would be horrified. So, why wouldn’t you customize your resume so that it fits the job to which you are applying and accentuates your assets in all the right places? Show off your most professional and polished self, while highlighting all the reasons that you are the ideal candidate for this particular role. In what follows, Sharp Decisions shows you how.

Most hiring managers spend less than 30 seconds scanning a resume. Within 30 seconds, they decide whether or not the candidate is right for the position. That you are the right candidate for a given job must be obvious in your resume.

Not all resumes include an objective statement, and that is fine. But, if you choose to include one, tailor it to the job you want. You don’t have to be too specific, but the objective should be targeted to the field for which you’re applying. For example, after Sally pulls herself together, she updates her objective statement to the following: “To obtain a position as a Financial Planner, utilizing my critical thinking, strategic planning, and analytical skills as well as my extensive knowledge of the Investment Banking Industry.”

Often, job titles aren’t descriptive of the tasks involved, and sometimes, they aren’t even accurate. A common example of this is the title “Administrative Assistant.” The duties of an Administrative Assistant vary from position to position, so an Administrative Assistant may not have the skills to fill another Administrative Assistant position, but he/she may have the necessary experience for another role with a different title.

To ensure you are clearly communicating your experience, always include a summary of job duties for each position you’ve held. Summaries should be clean and concise, so not all responsibilities need to be listed. Research can help pinpoint which tasks to include. Start by researching the job title for which you are applying. Identify qualifications and skills needed for the position. Also, look for key words used repeatedly in job descriptions for this position. Focus on aspects of your previous jobs that meet these requirements and incorporate key words. Cut tasks that aren’t pertinent for the job you are seeking to make room for tasks that are. A long, tedious list isn’t only boring, but it also obscures the significant responsibilities you want to shine so brightly they blind the hiring manager, so he can look no further than your resume.

Even your accomplishments, awards, and affiliations should show off your skill in the desired field. At heart, all employers are selfish and want to know how you will benefit their company, so show them how you’ve attributed to the success of other organizations by using skills specific to your target position.  This can be reflected in promotions, statistical data, or successful projects.

Finally, your references should be able to corroborate your abilities in the areas relevant to the position you’re seeking. Sally may be her French professor’s favorite pupil, but he can’t attest to your superior mathematic and analytical skills required for a Financial Planner. Though her previous supervisor at the accounting firm might write a less colorful and enthusiastic letter, it will hold more weight because of its relevance.

When you apply for a position through Sharp Decisions, we help you edit your resume to emphasize the skill set specific to the individual position for which you’re vying. We know the qualities our clients want in a candidate, so we can edit and customize your resume better than you can alone. Check out our job opportunities atwww.sharpdecisions.com/careers/. We have a 22-year record of success in finding jobs for professionals like you. We’re experts, and we’re confident we can find the perfect position for you. Let us help.

We love when you message us. Send your questions, comments, and concerns to hbruner@sharpdecisions.com. We look forward to hearing from you and, hopefully, meeting you in the near future.