Scrolling through website after website for your next big job move can be an overwhelming task. Every job posting begins to look like the next, making it difficult for you to craft your resumé accordingly.
It’s common for job applicants to miss information on job postings, Indeed’s Paul Wolfe says, but not paying attention to key points mentioned on postings can mean the difference between you getting an interview or being passed over.
“People often apply to jobs that are very similar and will use one universal resumé to apply,” Wolfe, senior vice-president of Global HR at Indeed.com, says. “But while different job descriptions may be similar, the details and requirements are often unique to each posting. This is why it’s important that you thoroughly read and review each job description and customize your resumé with each new application in order to stand out. If an employer has included specific details and requirements in the job description, they’re looking for your ability to pay attention to detail.”
It’s also worth noting that a resumé today is scanned in two different ways: through hiring managers and an applicant tracking system (ATS) – software that allows for automated sorting of applications based on specific keywords, Wolfe explains.
“Once a potential candidate has been identified, hiring managers and HR pros will review applications to make sure candidates are qualified, which is why it’s always important to consider whether you have the qualifications a job description is calling for before you apply,” he says. “You are unlikely to get past automated systems or human recruiters without the required qualifications.”
According to Wolfe, there are five common pieces of information that applicants often overlook or forget to include on their applications and resumés.
Pay attention to keywords
“Hiring managers want to see that you can speak their language and know the lingo of their industry,” Wolfe says. “When they see their own keywords mirrored back to them in your resumé, it reinforces the idea that you’re a strong candidate for the role.”
Wolfe says that applicants need to read each job description carefully and highlight keywords you think you should put on your resumé and cover letter. This will help the applicant tracking system pick up on your resumé and help it along to the next stage of the job application process.
Answer any specific questions
Sometimes employers may ask an applicant to answer a specific question in a cover letter, Wolfe points out.
“If you come across a job description or application like this, make sure you follow the writing prompt closely,” he says. “Employers include a prompt like this to assess your attention to detail and written communication skills.”
Watch for word limits
“Check the application form to see if there is a specific word limit, especially for your cover letter,” Wolfe warns. “If not, a general rule is that a cover letter should be no more than a single page long, consisting of three to four paragraphs that underscore why you are a qualified job applicant.”
Also, state why you are interested in the specific role, include targeted professional information, satisfy any directions listed in the job description and demonstrate an understanding of the organization, Wolfe adds.
Look for clues about the company’s culture
Often companies will use job descriptions to tell applicants about what the company stands for and why it’s a great place to work, Wolfe says.
“Look for a culture fit – does the job description mention a casual or formal dress code? Does it highlight team building or employee volunteer opportunities? Do they mention any unique perks, like catered meals? All of these things can give you insight into the organization and help you craft an application that’s aligned with what the company stands for.”
Focus on the experience requirements
Above all, Wolfe says, applicants should focus on the requirements and experience required in the job description.
“Ensure you have the qualifications before you consider applying and then use your resumé and cover letter to highlight the skills and experience that make you the right fit for the role,” he says.
Last bit of advice
Before you send your resumé, take your time to go over it to make sure everything is in order, Wolfe says.
Here’s what every applicant should do before handing in their resumé, according to Wolfe:
- Make sure you cover the basics like your education, relevant work experience and contact information
- Format your experience as a list of short statements. Avoid dense paragraphs.
- Proofread your resumé several times over and get someone else to look at it. An outside perspective can help you catch errors that you’ve missed.
And lastly, don’t forget to make it your own.
“While you should have a standard resumé template, it’s important to customize your resumé based on the job posting each time you apply to a new role,” he says. “For busy hiring managers, your resumé provides a snapshot of your career and is often the determining factor in whether you land an interview.”