No matter how much you try, if you're just not getting shortlisted, we blame your resume - it's high time to fix it.
The desperation that comes with not hearing from a recruiter after months of anxiously awaiting a callback can be taxing.
You're probably wondering why you're not getting shortlisted.
After all, you are more than qualified for the job and yet, you're lying on the couch with your head in your hands waiting for a miracle.
The light inside you is dying and you don't know what to do.
We've all been there.
But trust us when we say this:
It's not you, it's your resume.
Not getting shortlisted has more to do with your resume than it has to do with your skill sets. After all, a resume represents you on paper.
Do it right, and you'll have a job to your name.
Do it wrong, and you'll be running in this vicious loop of unemployment like a hamster on a wheel.
So in this blog, we have compiled a list of tips to help you optimize your resume according to the needs of your target job.
Here's a list of what we will cover in this blog:
Don't send the same resume to everyone. Customize it.
If you have been sending out the same piece of paper to every tom, dick, and harry; stop right away.
A one-for-all approach will never work in your favor, especially when you don't have an office to go to each morning.
We understand that not having a job can be depressing.
But aggressively sending out the same resume without customizing it will land you in a deeper pitt of despair because you won't hear back from anyone.
You would have wasted a perfectly good opportunity for nothing.
Customize your resume.
Customizing your resume means tailoring your resume according to the needs of the jobs that you are targeting.
No two job openings will have identical needs and qualification requirements.
Does this seem too confusing? Read on:
How to tailor a resume to a job in 3 easy steps
Let's say you have your eyes set on a particular job.
Would you send the same generic resume to different organization hoping for a shortlist?
The answer is no. We've already covered that in the previous section.
Instead, you will tailor your resume according to your target job.
Here's a great way to to do this:
- Scrutinize the job advertisement
- Look for keywords
- Strategically insert keywords into your resume
What are keywords and why they matter
Keywords are basically job requirements.
A job position will always have a set of keywords indicating the hiring needs of an organization for a particular job.
Keywords matter because they have the power to get you shortlisted.
To get shortlisted, you need to pass two screening tests:
- Your resume needs to be parsed by an ATS
- Your resume needs to impress a recruiter
Importance of keywords in getting parsed by the ATS
An ATS or applicant tracking system is a software that organizations have started using for their hiring needs. You will often find mid-large sized companies using it.
So if you're applying for a job at an MNC, your resume needs to be ATS-compliant.
When your resume is ATS compatible, it will get parsed by the ATS.
To make your resume ATS compatible, you need to use keywords.
Since the software is designed to look for keywords, detecting those keywords will give you an advantage over other candidates.
Your resume will get parsed by the ATS and it will reach the second stage of screening. In the second stage, a human recruiter will evaluate your resume.
Importance of keywords in relation to recruiters
Now that your resume has gotten parsed by the ATS and reached a human recruiter, are you doing enough?
Like we suggested in the previous point, keywords matter.
They help you pass the ATS test.
And it scores you a brownie point with the recruiter too.
Inserting keywords in your resume will put you in the recruiter's good books because most recruiters are also psychologically driven to look for keywords.
Since recruiters are headhunters, not industry specialists, seeing a keyword in your resume shows them that you possess the minimum qualifications needed for the job.
But, that is not enough.
Simply sprinkling keywords in your resume won't help.
You need to back it with data too. In other words, your professional experience needs to resonate with the keywords you have used.
We will get to that soon, but before that, we will show you how to identify a keyword in the first place.
Top 3 keywords to look for in a job description
Identifying keywords in a job description can be easy if you know what to look for in the first place.
For example, a keyword can be any one of the following or a combination of them all:
- Skill requirements: Based on the industry, a particular job can have basic skill requirements and add-ons too.
- Education requirements: Some organizations explicitly look for professionals with a college degree while some are okay with hiring high school graduates.
- Work requirements: Some people prefer to hire experienced professionals while some people are open to hiring people without any work experience.
There can be more job requirements in addition to the ones we have mentioned above.
Let's look at a couple of examples:
How to identify keywords in a job description
Given below is a LinkedIn job advertisement for a marketing profile:
The job description has various keywords such as:
- It indicates that the job profile is a mid-senior level profile. This means that the ideal candidate is someone with work experience.
- The JD mentions the functional industry: financial services. So a marketer with marketing experience in financial products would be ideally preferred.
- Another keyword here is the skills. This JD has listed a list of skill sets needed in the ideal candidate.
This job description goes on to get more detailed and descriptive concerning what it expects from the candidate.
Here's the second half of the JD for the marketing job:
In this job description, the keywords become more definitive:
- It confirms that the job is explicitly looking for experienced candidates with a minimum work experience of 5 years.
- It specifies that the candidate should be a holder of a bachelor's degree.
- It also specifies that the candidate should be an "analytical marketer', should be good at 'campaign execution', and have 'excellent relationship management skills'.
- It also specifies a list of generic soft skills needed. These aren't overwhelmingly important but you can showcase them in your resume.
How to use keywords to make a detailed oriented and highly customized job-specific resume
Writing a job-specific resume is the shortest route to getting shortlisted. We have already established that.
Now that we know how to identify keywords, it's time to put them on paper.
All you have to do is compare resume to a job posting.
So let us now write a job description resume:
Optimizing your Profile Title & Summary
In the job advertisement, the company was looking for:
- Marketing experts with 5 years of experience
- Marketing professionals with a foothold in finance
If you meet these criteria, you can incorporate these keywords into your resume. Your profile title and summary are a great place to feature these keywords.
Here's what you can do:
- To show that you meet the 5 years work requirement, you can start your summary like this: "5+ years experienced Marketing Manager.......".
- To show that you have marketing experience in the finance sector, you can use the keyword 'finance' in the summary strategically. Example: "5+ years experienced Marketing Manager with extensive experience in domains encompassing finance, advertisement, education, and distribution industry".
Optimizing the Skills Section of your resume
In the job advertisement, the company is looking for marketing professionals with the following skills:
- Customer-centric solutions
- Launch strategies
- Integrated marketing
- Campaign execution
- Sales campaigns
- Marketing strategy
- Lead generation
- Digital marketing
If you have these skill sets, you can highlight these keywords in a distinct 'key skills' section.
Here's an example of what you can do:
Optimizing the Education Section of your resume
Now we'll discuss the third and final requirement: i.e. the education requirement.
According to the job description, you need to have a bachelor's degree.
So if you meet the minimum bachelor's qualification, all you have to is make a distinct education section in your resume to show that you meet the criteria.
Here's an example:
Resume Sample of a customized job description resume
Customizing your resume according to your target job does not end with the three sections that we have mentioned above.
While the summary section, the key skills section, and the education section are perfect places to incorporate keywords, it does not end there.
After the ATS parses your resume, your keyword-optimized resume will reach the recruiter too. And a recruiter is likely to evaluate your resume in totality (not just the 3 sections we discussed above).
Here's a resume sample showcasing a job-customized resume that is tailored according to your target job: