Different Strokes for Different Folks

For years, job candidates have written resumes outlining their skills, experience and talents. Some were better written than others, some used special formatting, but most of these resumes shared one trait: the writers used these same resumes time and time again, regardless of the position or industry. Granted, some of these resumes were compelling enough to evoke an invitation for an interview from the hiring manager. But in today’s world, with the job market fluctuating, companies experiencing ups and downs, and candidate pools expanding rapidly, job seekers must find a way to differentiate themselves from their colleagues, and to increase their chances of getting that important first interview.

Luckily, it’s far easier with advanced technology to generate a well-written, individualized resume these days in short order, “tweaking” this same document later for other job applications by moving sections, changing wording, even altering fonts and graphics. I probably now have at least 30 iterations of my resume on my hard drive, each a bit different from the others. Some focus on HR skills and management, others on my leadership and not-for-profit experience – each depending on the job I had my eye on.

The key is to pay attention to the job posting or ad, and to hone in on what the employer is seeking. Use the employer or industry “buzz” words in your resume, and also in your cover letter. While most employers have streamlined their application review process, the candidates who have paid attention to the ad and the employers’ needs, and addressed them in their documents, will stand a better chance of being noticed.

Cover letters must also be targeted to the particular employer. While cover letters supplement the information in your resume, this is a good place to note the company’s latest achievement or award, to comment on the company website (positively, please!), and to mention things like your willingness to relocate, etc. I know people who were offered jobs based on their cover letters’ relevance to the job and company.

And remember to save all versions of your resume on your hard drive, with a backup on CD or disk. Save them during writing, editing, and “tweaking” – better to err on the cautious side than to try to reconstruct a resume the night before an application deadline!,

“One size fits all” may work in some instances, but the adage has outgrown its usefulness in writing resumes and cover letters. Let your documents reflect YOU, and how you can best meet the needs of each prospective employer.


This article was originally published in Dick Wray Associates e-newsletter.