Alright, it’s June. Graduation has come and gone, the summer is nearly here, and as a result, job hunting season is upon us. I know that it can be a tough time; I am rejoining the job hunting market as I finish my graduate degree, only to compete with all the other recent graduates out there. As the old saying goes, it’s a jungle out there.
In that spirit, I’m going to be spending times over the next several Mondays helping my fellow job seekers trying to find their own employment. Besides hopefully giving me some good job hunting karma, it’s also nice to review the techniques that have served me in the past (and the new techniques I’m hoping will shave months off the process). To start, let’s cover a good starting point:
Writing Your Resumes
No, that’s not a mistake; I do mean resumes, plural. While it’s tempting to stick to a single resume for all your job hunting needs (and I know that when you are trying to submit your resume as many places as possible, the temptation only increases), you’ll be better served by trying to tailor your resume to the companies you are applying to and to the specific position(s) you are seeking.
Why, you ask? Here’s the basic idea: it’s tough to write a single resume that meets the job requirements of every position for which you apply. If you try submitting the same resume to, say, a Chemist II position at a company that produces paint as you do to a Quality Control Agent job at a biotechnology firm (to cite a few of the positions I’ve applied for in the past few days), you’re likely to not have success with both positions. You might have great success with the former but none with the latter, or huge success with the second by none with first, or moderate success with each position, but it’s unlikely that both employers will be looking for the exact same qualifications. The needs for each position are similar, to be sure, but a few differences here and there can make a world of differences when it determines how much attention is paid by your would-be employers.
Adjusting Your Resumes to Each Job
So, how can you ensure that the resume you use for each job is just right? There’s plenty of advice you can find out there on just how to write resumes, covering the difference between chronological and functional types of resumes, describing the best ways to write up resumes at various points in your career. Here’s how I would be (and currently am) approaching the resume writing and submitting process:
-Build Up Your Generic Resume: You need to start somewhere, and making a basic resume that highlights your strengths, skills and work history. Do your best to make everything clear and precise; while it’s tempting to use plenty of big words and fancy terms, you won’t do anything to help make yourself more appealing to would-be employers. If you have a wide range of experience and are considering jobs in more than one field, you will want to create separate resumes for each area you are interested in, so you have something prepared for any job for which you might apply.
-Find An Interesting-Sounding Job, and Research It: There’s plenty of places you can look for jobs, and even more jobs for which you could apply. When you do find a position you find particularly interesting, then comes the fun part: research! Alright, perhaps it’s not that fun, but it is important to get a good idea of what is being done in this position and what the employer is looking for in a would-be worker. When you know that, it’s time to:
-Tweak Your Resume to the Specific Job: You don’t need to re-write a whole new resume for each position; your basic resume is pretty solid already (at least in theory). Instead, you just need to make a few minor changes to the resume to make it more fitting to the individual position. Find the specific qualifications the job is seeking, the requirements it has, and add them to your resume (assuming you do have those qualifications, of course; the last thing you should do is lie about your skills and abilities in your resume). It will add a little time to your submission process for each job, but by doing so, you’ll stress how well you fit the needs of the job-filler.
-Submit Your Modified Resume (With Cover Letter): Once everything has been adjusted on your resume it’s then time to submit to the position of interest. Write up a nice cover letter stressing your appropriateness for the position, which you should definitely be able to do, now that you’ve researched the position well enough to modify your resume appropriately. Submit your resume, and you should be able to stand out from rest of the job-seeking crowd.
You might not be able to get your dream job on the first attempt, but you’ll do all the better with this approach compared to simply flooding the job market with your generic resume. You’ll definitely be more likely to get past the initial computer screening, which tend to seek key words to find the most appropriate personnel. Good luck! (With the job market the way it is, you’ll need it.)