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The Single Most Important Thing you Can Do To Your Resume

I’ve been a hiring manager in various industries for over 25 years and estimate that I’ve hired somewhere between 250 and 300 people.  Since I probably read at least 15 – 20 resumes for each opening, this means I’ve read about 4,000 to 5,000 resumes during my career.

Sadly, only perhaps one out of every five was considered for an interview.  The other 80% probably should not have even been submitted.  Are you surprised?

I’m now going to reveal to you the single most important thing you can do to your resume to increase your chance of getting that elusive interview: customize it to specifically match every position to which you apply.

This is a simple concept that should be followed by all job applicants, but – amazingly – it isn’t.  The vast majority of resumes I receive are obviously written once and submitted multiple times.  I can always tell these because they seldom emphasize the exact skills in my job posting and usually include many skills and experiences that have little or no relevance to my specific opening.

When I hear people tell me they’ve sent out hundreds of resumes and have yet to get an interview, I always remark that it must be terribly time consuming to write that many custom resumes.  I usually get a blank look and a reply something to the effect that “I spent a lot of time making my resume perfect so that I could use it for any job I apply to.”

And that’s my “aha” moment!

No wonder they aren’t getting interviews.  Instead of letting their resume explain why they are a good fit for that exact job, they are expecting Hiring Managers to figure that out for themselves.  Remember: you have about 20 seconds to grab the Hiring Manager’s attention with your resume.  If it’s not quickly obvious that you’re a good match for that job, your resume is tossed aside, as is your chance for an interview.

Yes, it’s also important to have a properly formatted resume with no spelling or grammatical errors, but that’s the 20 in the 80/20 rule.  80 percent of the effectiveness of your resume lies in how well you sell your qualifications as being a great match for each specific job.

If you want to greatly increase the chance that your resume will result in an interview, you must carefully analyze the skill and experience requirements from the job posting.  Then, customize your resume to include and highlight as many of those EXACT skills as you can legitimately claim.

I’ll go into more detail about exactly how to do this in another post.

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