Many of us feel burnt out in our job searches because the pandemic has taken its toll on us, both personally and professionally. So now more than ever, we need job search strategies that are more efficient, effective, and streamlined - and one such strategy is a highly focused resume.
Job seekers often want their resume to appeal to many different kinds of roles or employers. After all, it’s better to be open to lots of different options, right?
Unfortunately, this strategy can be a huge time waster because its focus is too broad.
Like a business owner who spends time and energy advertising to everybody, you become relevant to almost nobody. As a result, you end up applying to more jobs than is really necessary and you receive fewer call-backs, all because your resume lacks a specific focus.
Is there a better way?
Well, it may seem counterintuitive, but sending fewer applications using a more focused resume actually saves you time. Like a business owner who advertises to a niche market of customers and tailors their message to that audience, you become immediately relevant to employers. Why? Because they can quickly discern from your resume why you are a good fit for them. Your focused marketing campaign saves time and energy because it is more efficient and effective.
So the question becomes: how can you transform your resume into a focused advertisement? Allow me to share just four strategies that work for most resumes:
1. Clarify your target
If you aren’t already clear on this, you could benefit from having your skills, strengths, ideal working conditions, and career goals assessed by a career professional. Doing some career assessment work up front will actually save you time in your job search because it will clarify who you want to work for and which roles are a good fit for you.
Without that clarity, you will likely waste time overhauling your resume to suit radically different roles and employers. Or worse, you’ll leap into a job that isn’t a good fit for you, and then you are back to square one.
2. Use a focused mission statement
Employers will usually state what their overarching goal is for a job posting. In response, you need to tell them how you are going to help them reach that goal. That’s where a resume mission statement comes in.
For example, if the employer is an environmental consulting firm that is working alongside its municipality to help it transition to a circular economy, then you could write:
“Mission: to utilize 15 years of project advising and stakeholder consultation experience in the environmental field to accelerate the City of Waterloo’s transition to a circular economy.”
This statement shows the employer immediately how you fit into their mission. It grabs their attention by focusing on their needs instead of your own.
3. Showcase Your Best material first
I highly recommend creating a Summary of Accomplishments section near the top of your resume. That way, the reader does not have to wait until they review your Employment History before encountering your best work.
Ideally, a Summary of Accomplishments section should contain 4-6 impactful bullet points that prove to the employer why you are a good fit for them. Each bullet should cite a past or present accomplishment, highlight the specific skills you demonstrated while accomplishing it, and quantify the results you achieved.
For example, if the employer is asking for project/stakeholder management experience in the environmental sector, you could include the following accomplishment statement:
“Demonstrated excellent project management, project support and stakeholder consultation skills on 50+ long-term environmental consulting contracts, including groundwater and surface water monitoring, soil and groundwater remediation and indoor air mitigation projects.”
4. Customize using keywords
A resume that does not reflect the language and terminology of the employer will almost certainly fail. Why? Because you won’t sound like you are part of their team and your resume will be difficult to search for in their company’s database.
You may not realize this, but after you submit your resume, hiring managers will often search their application database using the same key words found on the job posting and company website.
For example, if an employer frequently uses keywords like circular economy, multiple stakeholders, project management, and environmental sustainability, then a resume absent of those keywords will likely get overlooked in the database. That amounts to wasted effort on the part of the job seeker. To prevent this from happening, you need to customize your resume by inserting these key words, while providing demonstrations of your competence in these areas.
Resume writing is just one part of your job search. But it’s a very important part, especially because a focused resume can be a huge time saver. So ask yourself:
Have I clarified the types of employers I want to target?
Have I written an attention-grabbing mission statement on my resume?
Do I showcase my best accomplishment at the top?
Have I customized my resume using the right keywords?
By answering these questions and applying the solutions recommended here, you will spend less time on ineffective application writing and more time landing interviews with employers you want to work for!