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Susan P. Joyce Headshot

Customized Resumes: Required in 2014

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JOB INTERVIEW
Ariel Skelley via Getty Images

I've spoken or interacted with several job seekers recently who think that customizing their resumes for specific opportunities is a waste of their time. I've even heard from a professional resume writer who agreed with that approach.

NOT TRUE! One "general" resume is NOT sufficient now.

Every recruiter I have spoken with strongly disagrees with one-version-of-your-resume-is-fine philosophy. They believe that resumes should be customized to the opportunity the job seeker is applying for.

Five Good Reasons to Customize Your Resume for Each Opportunity

You can find many reasons (or make many excuses) for not taking the time to customize your resume. But here are 5 reasons why making the effort should pay off for you:

1. To stand out from the crowd.

Each job posting receives an average of 250 responses these days. That's quite a bit of competition! When your resume is obviously customized to the opportunity, that customization is an instant -- and a very important -- differentiator.

2. To demonstrate genuine interest in the opportunity.

Recent studies show that job seekers spend an average of 80 seconds (less than 1.5 minutes!) reading a job posting before before clicking that "Apply" button. And, employers are pretty fed up with "resume spammers" -- unqualified people who apparently submit resumes for every opportunity they see, seemingly without reading the job description first.

So, going back to those 250 submissions in number 1, above, employers want to see clear evidence that the job seeker is genuinely interested in the opportunity -- not just applying without knowing anything about the job.

By taking the time to customize your resume to this opportunity, you are clearly demonstrating your interest and differentiating yourself from the spammers.

3. To ensure that the appropriate keywords are included for the automated screening.

Because of the high volume of responses for most job postings, employers and recruiters often store resumes and applications in an automated resume database or "Applicant Tracking System" ("ATS") to manage them more easily.

Consequently, if your standard resume doesn't contain the keywords used in the job description, the likelihood that your resume will turn up in the recruiter's search of the database for qualified applicants is very low.

Customizing your resume to include the keywords from the job description should greatly increase the probability that your resume will be found in that recruiter's search. Being found in the ATS search means your resume will be seen by a human being and may receive consideration.

4. To make it very clear that you are qualified for the job.

Perhaps as a result of the deluge of resumes resulting for most job postings, the first time a human being sees your resume (after it has survived the ATS search, described above), they spend an average of 7 seconds scanning your resume or application to determine if you are qualified or not.

Unless you make it very obvious that you are qualified for the position, you are out of consideration. Very unlikely that anyone will see your resume or consider you as a candidate for the job.

Perhaps many of the applicants who are rejected may actually have the qualifications, but those qualifications are buried among the bullets in a standard (un-customized) work history resume. So, they are missed in that first, very fast scan.

Probably most of those qualified, but invisible, job seekers are assuming that the recruiter or employer will spend several minutes to carefully read through their resumes to discover those qualifications. Not going to happen with 250 -- or more -- resumes to read for each opportunity posted!

With 250 resumes to screen, if a resume doesn't obviously connect the dots between the job requirements and the applicant's qualifications, that resume is rejected with all of the other unqualified applicants.

5. To demonstrate your technology and business savvy.

Employers want employees who understand how to use technology for business. You demonstrate lack of understanding of both technology and the hiring process by not customizing your resume, giving employers this impression of you:

  • You do not understand how to use word processing software well enough to customize your resume, and/or
  • You do not understand how to leverage current Internet technology to your advantage, and/or
  • You do not understand how competitive the current job market is.

None of those negative impressions represent characteristics that are sought after by employers in their new employees.

Your Mileage May Vary

Yes, your resume may still drop down the infamous black hole, even if you are perfectly qualified and customize it carefully. However, based on the input from every recruiter I've discussed this issue with, your chances of avoiding the black hole increase with the care you take customizing your resume for each opportunity you apply for. The time you take to do this work should be an investment that is very well spent!

With word processing software like Microsoft Word available, customization is not difficult. So, leverage that technology. Your competitors are.

More on how to do the customization quickly and easily: Customize Your Resume in 5 Quick Steps

For more information, read:

Follow me on Google Plus and Twitter (@JobHuntOrg) for more job search tips!

Susan P. Joyce is president of NETability, Inc. and the editor and chief technology writer for Job-Hunt.org and WorkCoachCafe.com. This article was first published on WorkCoachCafe.