Why a General Work-History Resume Doesn’t Work Now

Why a General Work-History Resume Doesn't Work Now

Your resume will not work if it is too general and too unfocused.

It is a big mistake to omit the critical step of understanding exactly what the customer is buying and customizing what you have to offer to their expressed needs.

Your resume goes into resume databases that can have over 30 million other resumes against which yours has to compete.

A resume that’s simply a recitation of all you have done in your career is too unfocused to work well in this environment.

Here’s how a resume database search works for the recruiter. Like a Google search, the recruiter puts in keywords from a specific Job Description, and up pop the resumes that match based on the frequency of the relevant keywords they have used.

Analyze Job Requirements to Develop Your Targeted Resume

So what can you do to create a resume that competes in this fierce environment? You can develop an understanding of what employers want when they hire someone like you, how they prioritize those needs, and how they describe them.

  1. Focus on the single target job title that captures what you can do best.
  2. Analyze how employers think about and describe that job.
  3. Collect at least six job postings for your target job.
  4. Deconstruct those job postings, creating a composite job description for your target job:
    • Prioritize the common requirements.
    • Capture ALL the specific words and phrases used to describe those requirements.

From this analysis you can say, “This is how employers think about and describe the job I want.” Now you know the story your resume needs to tell, and the words that will maximize its visibility in resume databases.

Now you know the story your resume needs to tell and the words that will maximize its visibility in resume databases.

Leverage your new understanding of employers’ prioritization of skills and the words they use in describing your target job.

Then, apply this knowledge to what is emphasized in your resume and the words that are used to do so.

Highlight Important Keywords in a New Section of Your Resume

You will want to include a Professional Skills or Core Competency section that lists all your professional skills as they apply to your target job.

This usually comes at the top of the resume, in this order:

  • A target job title
  • A short paragraph capturing all the most important skills, often referred to as a Performance Profile.
  • A Professional Skills or Core Competencies section that lists your skills.

You can help your resume’s performance further by making sure each of those key professional skills you listed in a Professional Skills section are repeated within the context of the jobs in which they were applied. This increases keyword count and puts skills claims in context for the reader.

The most productive resume focuses on your abilities to do one specific target job, so the days of the old unfocused resume are gone.

Today you need specifically targeted resumes for each different job you pursue.

This is not difficult: simply create a composite job description for each target job, then make a duplicate of your prime resume, saved under another title, and edit it to meet the requirements of that alternate job goal.

[Related: Keyword Secrets to Get Your Resume Noticed and Guide to Personal SEO.]

Bottom Line

Your resume is the most important document you will ever create. The effort you put into it is going to be reflected in your earnings. Today, focus your resumes on the employers requirements and languaged used so that your resume clearly matches the employer’s needs.

And, don’t forget to keep your LinkedIn Profile in sync with your resume, including using the “right keywords” in the “right places” in LinkedIn.

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Martin YateAbout the author…

Successful careers don’t happen by accident. Professional resume writing expert Martin Yate CPC is a New York Times best-seller and the author of 17 Knock Em Dead career management books. As Dun & Bradstreet says, “He’s about the best in the business.” For FREE resume-building advice and to view Martin’s resume samples, visit the Knock Em Dead website. Join Martin on Twitter at @KnockEmDead.
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