I bet you thought Step Two was “Write a Resume.” A common misconception is that resumes are “one size fits all,” meaning you submit the same resume for all of the jobs you are applying for. Sometimes that may be the case, but that might not be the best approach. I’ll tell you why.
In this day and age, it may not be feasible for a Human Resources department to view each and every application, resume, and cover letter. Instead, agencies may use software to screen and sift through applications and resumes, by searching for key words. If your resume does not clearly demonstrate that you have skills as required by that specific job, your application could be missed entirely through this process. This doesn’t mean that you should copy the job qualifications list onto your resume. That’s actually a really bad idea. Rather, you should look at the required experience and qualifications of the job, and be creative in your approach to set yourself apart from other applicants.
What should you be doing to set yourself apart from others as you write your resume?
Recruiters want to know that you’ve done your homework on the company you are applying to. Ask yourself some of these questions:
- What is the company’s mission?
- Why do I want to work for this company?
- Why should they pick me above anyone else?
- What can I do for them that other applicants can’t?
- What kinds of traits or skills does this company desire from its employees?
Think about your work experiences, paid and unpaid internships, as well as volunteer and personal experiences. Then ask yourself:
- What have I accomplished that demonstrates that I have the skills I say that I have?
The answers to these questions can go into a professional summary at the top of your resume, before your relevant work experience, specialized skills, awards and honors, and education. You can also answer these types of questions within your cover letter. If you aren’t addressing these questions in your professional summary and you aren’t writing a cover letter to submit with your job applications, I strongly recommend you start. Find out more about the importance of the cover letter in your job search.