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6 Easy Ways to Tweak Your Resume

resume writing Feb 07, 2024

In today’s AI-driven world, tweaking your resume for different positions is essential.

HR departments rely upon the keywords within their job postings and descriptions to screen candidates. This is especially true for large companies, technical roles, or in-demand industries. Similarly, positions that draw a lot of candidates – such as entry-level to lower management roles – are more likely to be screened by computers just because of the sheer volume of applicants.

Good news! Here are six tricks you can use to customize your resume in just 30 minutes.


  1. Have a solid resume FIRST.

Before you go insane tweaking your resume for a single job, make sure you have a solid resume in the first place. The resume should be written with the targeted job in mind already. For example, if you are considering either a career in accounting or HR, you need two different resumes, as the base skills, experience, and traits are vastly different for those two roles.

Similarly, pull a decent amount of sample jobs when crafting the base resume. At the Personal Touch Career Services, we ask our clients to send us 3-6 job descriptions for the same job title, ideally with different companies. We use that as our basis for the initial keyword analysis. By using a sample set, we discover what are the universal key words, desired experience, top traits, and education levels that are inherent for that type of job. Once the foundation of a solid resume is built, you can adjust it for specific positions.


  1. Include the title of the target job.

Putting the title of the job is one of the best ways to get through HR’s application tracking systems (ATS). The actual title of the position ranks really high in the valuable keywords.

Whenever possible, be sure to use the exact phrasing of the job title in your resume. It can be added as a variation to your current title: for example, if your title is “Outside Sales Manager” but their title is “Manager of Key Accounts,” change your title on the resume to “Manager of Key Accounts (Outside Sales Manager).” Notice that the actual, real job title must be in parentheses. That way, when HR calls to confirm your work history, there won’t be a discrepancy.

But what if you don’t have a similar title or if you are switching industries? Simple. Start the content of your resume with a heading that is the title of the target job. Not only does it give clarity on what your target job is, but it is also very easy to change when tweaking the resume for different jobs.


  1. Match both the smart and stupid keywords.

HR screens people based on skills, specifically the keywords within the qualifications or requirements on the job description. Many people don’t realize that this includes both “smart” and “stupid” keywords.

Smart keywords are anything that relates to the job itself. For example, “prospecting, contract negotiations, presentations, and Salesforce CRM” are all smart keywords for a salesperson.

Stupid keywords are vague and nebulous statements like “excellent communication skills, team player, or detail-oriented.” While everyone knows that isn’t the most exciting writing ever, if HR is using that phrase in the job description, you must use it in your resume or risk being cut by the screening computers. But how do we include these asinine phrases without destroying the overall quality of our resume?

By the way, the core competencies or key skills area is a great place to do some keyword packing. By using different columns, you can load up a lot of skills without taking up too much space.


  1. Use variations of top skills.

Not only do you need both smart and stupid keywords, but you need their variations, too.

One of the biggest offenders is actually Microsoft Office – the words, not the program. Some employers use “MS Office” in their job descriptions. Others may state “Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.” However, the computer will only recognize the way it’s written in that exact job description. In other words, many computers are dumb and don’t know that Office and Word are the same thing. To combat this, consider using a variation for the software, such as “Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint).”


  1. Use both the acronym and the name of your degree.

Sometimes, screening computers are very literal. Unfortunately, the dumb ATS can kill a lot of job seekers.

Did you know that if you list your degree as a “BS,” but the job description calls for a “Bachelor of Science,” the ATS may not recognize the BS as a degree?

BS, Indeed.

To combat this grievous oversight of the ATS, use both the abbreviation and the full name of your degree or any certifications that you hold.


  1. Describe relevant experience.

Within the job description, pay attention to the duties or responsibilities. When you describe your own experience, find ways to match your own experience or achievements to those specific areas.

We see many job seekers proclaim that they can do all the work within a given job, but they never had that exact title. To show their relevance, parrot the language of the duties in the job posting within your resume.


Final Thought

HR must cut 95% or more of the candidate pool before sending potential new hires to the manager’s interviews. To do this, they all rely on screening tools, with getting past the computer being just the first step. To make sure you survive, try to match 60-75% of the keywords, requirements, and experience to get past those killer bots. And, of course, get in touch with the managers directly to greatly increase your chances for an interview, especially if you are changing industries or job levels.


Wondering how well your resume stands up? Contact the Personal Touch Career Services for a free resume review:

Wondering how effective your job search is? Schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation with one of our career coaches, Donna Shannon or Dia Kline

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