Conventional wisdom says you MUST tailor your resume to every job you apply to, but is that right?
Tailor Resume? What New Survey Research Says
New survey research by Kimberly Schneiderman and outplacement firm RiseSmart shows that customization isn’t always needed.
They asked 273 recruiters and hiring managers, “How closely does a resume need to match the [job] description to warrant the next step with you?”
As you can see in the chart below, only 20% of the responding recruiters and hiring managers want perfection:
80% are willing to deal with reality.
Thus, if you’re in a time crunch, send your resume whether it’s a perfect match for the job posting or not. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. If you’re a good fit, you have a four in five chance of that being OK.*
*Do consider your market. If it’s hot, and candidates are hard to find, recruiters will be more flexible than if they have an inbox full of near-10s. Much of the “always customize” advice was published during the Great Recession and hasn’t been updated for current market conditions.
Increase Your Odds of Success
When not tailoring your resume to the job at hand, you’ll up your odds of success if your resume has already been written to give recruiters:
1. The information they want: where you’ve worked, for how long, and what you did — responsibilities and accomplishments (see the research).
2. In a format that’s easy for them to read on desktop, laptop, and mobile (learn about that here).
The RiseSmart survey revealed that 59% of respondents read resumes on their phones.
Look at these executive resume samples for deeper understanding of how to present yourself.
What to Customize
If you don’t want to risk the other 20%, but time is short, focus on getting the posting’s keywords into your resume.
Keywords matters because recruiters search their applicant tracking systems (ATS) on specific terms.
An Even Better Approach
However, rather than using your time to customize your resume, double down on getting it to a person who can refer you to the hiring manager or recruiter.
The survey found that referrals (55%) are the respondents’ best source of top candidates – not the ATS (22%).
Prioritize Your Time
You can waste a lot of time following unsubstantiated “advice” on how to conduct your job search. Always ask yourself about the source of the advice and the best return on your limited time. Then set smart priorities.
On that note, I particularly like Kimberly’s study because it was done to collect answers from real decision makers on real questions job seekers ask.
Featured by SmartBrief and PayScale
Image Courtesy of Alexander Solodukhin
Updated October 2018
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