Different jobs call for different skills, and the résumé requirements for those positions demand no less variety. Crafting a résumé that's tailored to the job you're applying for will help it stand out among the dozens of applications on a hiring manager's desk. August Cohen, certified résumé writer and owner of the executive résumé writing and coaching service GetHiredStayHired, lends her expertise on how to do just that.
First, there are some elements every résumé should have regardless of its intended recipient. Chief among those is a section that outlines achievements. "One of the biggest challenges job seekers have is that they write a résumé that's like a job description, and what they really need to focus on is achievements and not just the duties and responsibilities," Cohen says.
Other basics include organizing sections to emphasize what's most important and incorporating strategic keywords. Separating the document into various sections with keywords spread throughout, and placing critical sections toward the top will help ensure anyone looking it over will see that information first. Cohen also points out that sections make the document more readable and, with proper use of bullets and white space, will help catch a hiring manager's eye.
Here are some other ways to customize your résumé to the field you want to enter.
Résumés for business jobs. In general, business résumés should follow a traditional, conservative structure. However, slight differences for specific jobs are necessary. Sales and marketing résumés, for example, should place a strong emphasis on numbers. You can also use bolder language that reflects the skills needed for the position. "You can brag in a sales résumé," Cohen says. "Salespeople are expected to be very confident and comfortable with promoting their company and ... promoting themselves."
Unlike sales, marketing positions require you to show how well you understand the company brand, and demonstrate your ability to convey that brand to the customer. It's also important to demonstrate your ability to develop data for market research.
Résumés for executive business positions should focus more on leadership than the practical skills of the business world and should highlight specific achievements. Lastly, Cohen suggests moving information about your education to the bottom of your résumé and spotlighting your work experience and achievements over the last eight to 12 years at the top.
Résumés for technology jobs. Unlike the numerical focus of business résumés, the résumé of someone who works in technology should demonstrate proficiency with a variety of programs that pertain to the job. "For technical résumés, the section of technologies could be pretty long so, again, we want it to be palatable to the reader so you can break it down into categories," Cohen says. "Instead of having 30 or 40 technologies listed, break it down by software, or hardware, or languages, or applications, or networks or however you want to do it that makes sense for your particular industry." If the technology section is still too long, consider adding an addendum that demonstrates the full range of technologies you're competent using.
Much like executive business résumés, the résumés for higher-level IT positions need different elements than those for lower-level professionals. "For the [chief information officer], and [chief technology officer] and higher-level technical résumés, they would be more strategic," Cohen says. "There wouldn't be as much focus on technology because they would be leading people that were actually hands-on in the technology."
Résumés for creative jobs. These résumés should be focused on projects, and Cohen advises including achievements in projects. Key design and creative elements from each assignment may also be incorporated to highlight project achievements.
Résumés for creative positions are expected to showcase the applicant's abilities. The use of color as well as a personal logo or other design elements can demonstrate your aptitude for a creative position.
However, the creative elements need to be strategic. "You want the audience to remember the brand," Cohen says, "and you want to leverage the design and creativity in doing that." Although creative résumés have more room for imagination than others, that same creativity can cause problems with online applications. If there is too much design or the wording is too lengthy, job application software could prevent the résumé from making it through the system. To combat this, Cohen recommends adding either a link to an online portfolio or an addendum to inform the reader that more examples of your work are available.
[Read: The 411 on Infographic Résumés.]
Regardless of the industry you are applying to, Cohen says it's important to have a solid strategy along with a strong résumé. And the best strategy is to network. "Applying for jobs is a very ineffective way to try to find a job," she says. "The minority of positions are secured though an online application, either through a job portal or a company website. Networking is the No. 1 way that job seekers find a new position."
Cohen also emphasizes that résumés are "living documents" that need to shift and mold to each new employment opportunity. Given the competition prevalent in today's job market, keeping your résumé flexible and ready to evolve with each new application is a key strategy when searching for a job.
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