Embarking on a job search can often lead one through a lot of stress, uncertainty, and even sometimes doubt. It’s important to remind yourself that you are just as important to an employer as they are to you. After all, there are two components to this process: the employer and YOU. More often than not, students are so eager to get a position that they forget what makes them unique and important compared to other applicants. Tailoring your resume isn’t just for the employer; it’s the first step in realizing your potential with a company. Of course, you need to appeal to an employer to get the job, but you must first appeal to yourself. Start by preparing your resume and cover letter with these tips in mind and be prepared to know your worth!
1. Ask yourself, “Why is it important to tailor my resume?”-
- Imagine you are an employer receiving hundreds of applications for only one position. When you come across one that has a clear objective/statement that includes the position and company within your goals, you know right away that this resume is just for you. Scanning through the resume, you see that the resume highlights experiences and skills needed for the position in mind because they translate to the position description. Overall, you like to see that an applicant has taken the time to make his or her resume “made to order,” and this is the first step in impressing you. This is the scenario you want to create when an employer finds your resume. It shows that you comprehend the position and the company’s vision while showing your ability to communicate your skills – a lot like a preview of what’s to come in an interview.
- Staying true to the position description and highlighting your transferable skills help you understand the position. This is important because you should comprehend as much as you can about what this position requires and what you can bring to the role. It also prevents you from including fibs or extra material that doesn’t pertain. The rule is always quality over quantity. Looking impressive means that you present the real skills, show your true potential, and understand why you are important.
2. Use these methods when tailoring-
- Most common tactic used when tailoring documents is incorporating keywords or buzzwords. I challenge you to think deeper, don’t just copy paste the words from the position but think about how you can present those key words in the bullet points of your past experiences.
- Use transferable skills and action verbs! Employers scanning your resume want to see two things: 1. “What did you do?” 2. “How did you do it?” – sweet and simple. Jazz it up with action verbs to set up the skillset you are trying to demonstrate.
- Get rid of redundancy. Like I mentioned before, quality reigns over quantity. Try not to list everything you have done on your resume and instead incorporate what is most pertinent to this position.
-Tip: Keep a master resume that includes all of your experiences, projects and involvement. Then pick and choose what you want to keep/omit based on what the requirements and skills are for the position. Save the new one as the resume for the specific position in which you are applying by including the company name in the file name (ex: Last name_NASAresume).
- Always prove your bullets with supporting examples. A lawyer making their case would never walk into a courtroom without supporting evidence to back their claim. . Think of your bullet points as the supporting evidence; always state your skill but provide a specific example of how you developed that skill. (For example, “Developed research skills by gathering data received from satellite, analyzing for patterns, and formulating the information into organized spreadsheet documents.”)
But you’re not quite done there. Just as important as it is to have a tailored resume, your cover letter will give you an additional edge, and having accomplished your resume means you’re on the right track towards creating a strong cover letter.
- Even when an employer states that a cover letter is not necessary, I would always recommend writing one. This is the first place to show your ability to go above and beyond what is required of you.
- When an employer looks over the submitted applications, the candidates with cover letters have put their applications into another category that shows their drive, ability to communicate transferable skills, and an extra ambitious attitude for the position.
Here are some additional tips for tailoring a cover letter:
- Pick 2-3 specific experiences from your resume that you wish to elaborate on.
- Organize your paragraphs to show your key skills. In one paragraph, highlight a needed skillset from the position and support it with evidence from your resume. In the next paragraph, highlight a different skillset also needed for the position and demonstrate how you have accomplished those skills.
- Use the models and examples on our website for more insight on what a cover letter should possess for your specific degree program.
Emily Ferraro is new to the Career Services Office at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and serves as the Program Manager for undergraduate Aerospace Engineering students. She completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies as well as her Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction specializing in College Student Affairs at the University of South Florida in Tampa, FL. Emily enjoys working with students to help them achieve their personal and professional career goals and specializes in topics such as personal branding and resume writing.