Crafting a resume that will grab and hold a recruiter or hiring manager’s attention can seem like an exercise in guesswork. If only we were given a cheat sheet that details exactly what they want to see!
If you share in these sentiments, you’re in luck. Not only does such a cheat sheet exist, but nearly every job out there has one. Of course, we’re referring to the job description!
In many ways, the job description is the most valuable tool you have access to when composing your resume. What should and shouldn’t be included, what to emphasize, what to leave off, and what points you really need to drive home — it’s all right there in black and white.
Why aligning your resume to the job description is valuable:
- It will be more relevant and better demonstrate your qualification for the role
- You will grab the attention of recruiters and hiring managers
- Your chances of being selected for an interview will increase
If you came to this article for an answer to the question: “Should I align my resume to the job description?” The short answer is clearly ‘yes.’ But as with most aspects of the application process, there are a couple of pitfalls that you should be careful to sidestep.
Here are 5 tips to help you align your resume with the job description:
- Review the job description in detail and highlight the core skills required for the role at hand.
- Add all relevant must-have (and nice-to-have) skills from the job description to the “Skills” section of your resume, if you possess these skills.
- Detail how you used these skills within your last 2 roles as the top bullets below the “Work Experience” section of your resume, if you used the skills in these assignments.
- Repeat the exercise above in order to identify the deliverables and responsibilities required for the role, emphasizing your own experience accordingly.
- Hone in on the skills and experience you possess but have not given enough real estate on your resume, being sure to address them where applicable.
“Focus on what they want to see.”
It’s tempting to throw every role, every duty, every skill and all of the experience you’ve accumulated onto your resume. If you do, you run the risk of emphasizing skills and experience they don’t need which will drown out those they do need. Don’t sell them bananas when they need oranges and you have oranges.
In reality, you simply can’t fit everything you’ve done and everything you offer within the confines of a resume. That’s not the purpose of the format. Instead, focus your energy on what really counts and leave off skills and experience that aren’t relevant or simply don’t demonstrate the value you will bring to this job.
Aligning your resume does not mean including what you haven’t done.
We all want to make our resume as desirable as possible. To this end, it can be tempting to include the skills and experience the employer is looking for, even if you haven’t done it. If you catch yourself thinking:
“No, technically I haven’t done this, but I could do it”
— the safe bet is to leave it off. There’s nothing worse than getting caught in a lie.
Aligning your resume to the job description means highlighting the skills and experience you possess based on the job needs. It does not mean writing what you haven’t done.
Thankfully, resume writing doesn’t have to be the guessing game many of us make it out to be. Once you know what you’re looking for, where to find it, and how to translate it into focused and compelling text, your resume will hone in on precisely what a recruiter want to see, grabbing their attention right off the bat and making the type of first impression that is most likely to get you an interview.