Is a resume an important aspect to getting a job interview?  If you think yes, then why do so many people spend so little time preparing one?  If you think no, then read no further.

A resume is essential for two reasons.  One, it helps you tell your story to potential employers.  Two, it helps potential employers match your qualifications to their needs.  Your story is unique.  No two resumes are alike and the person whose resume best fits the needs of the employer will get a call for an interview.  How can you be sure your resume will result in an interview?

1.    Only submit a resume for positions that employers have posted as open.

Avoid sending or emailing resumes to employers that do not have job openings.  That tactic may occasionally result in a job interview.  However, the majority of time employers will discard it.  If you want your resume to be considered you need to respond to positions that the employer has posted as open.

2.    You need to make sure your resume closely matches the requirements of the job that is posted.

This is not accomplished by copying the requirements listed in the employer’s job posting and pasting it into your resume.  This is making certain that your background, qualifications do match the job requirements, and that your resume reflects this match clearly and concisely.

Your resume may be one of several hundred that an employer receives.  It will pass through an initial screening generally processed by a computer.  Think of it this way.  You are going to do a search on Goggle.  You type in “why do I need a resume”.  The search produces 30 million responses.  How many of these responses will you actually read?  The first two or three, without a doubt, you will not read all 30 million.  The same is true of your resume.  It will be screened along with hundreds of other resumes.  The ones that most closely match the requirements of the job posting will surface near the top and the employer will read those.

Improving the chances of your resume being read is not a matter of simply being a good wordsmith.  If that is all you do, it may get past the first screen but the employer is smart and it will not make it much further.  The purpose of carefully reviewing the job posting is to determine whether you have the qualifications for the position and how well do you match the requirements.

Employers do not expect that applicants will match 100% of the job requirements.  The rule of thumb is you should match approximately 80% of the job requirements.  The remaining 20% may be what the employer considers the most critical requirements but you have no way of knowing that.  Use your best judgment.  If you match 70-80% of the requirements, you should apply.  Avoid the temptation to stretch your experiences to match 100% of the job.  The most important thing to remember is you need to be honest with yourself about your qualifications and ensure you are honest on your resume.

This does not mean you need to tailor your resume for every job opening.  For example, the requirements for a financial analyst are similar from one company to another.  You may need to tweak your resume when applying for a position apart from that you can be certain that your resume will not be at the bottom of the hundreds of resumes an employer receives.  If you possess the qualifications then make certain it is obvious to the potential employer.

Getting your resume to the top of the stack is the first step to landing a job interview.  Then the real fun begins.

Tom Cairns

co-host JobTalk1

Author: All Systems Go: How to Launch a Successful Job Search