In my previous post I mentioned “tailoring” a resume.
What did I mean? Why it is so important? How is it done?
A good, effective resume is the ticket to scoring an interview. It speaks for you; introducing you to the employer, highlighting your talents and experience (what you bring to the table), and convincing them that you are exactly what they’re looking for – an asset to their company. To be effective, a resume must be specific (tailored) to each position for which you are applying. A more generalized, broad view resume will not move your candidacy, in most cases, to the next stage (i.e., phone or onsite interview). To successfully tailor your resume for a specific position, first you will need to study the associated job description for the target position so you understand the key qualifications and experience requirements the company is looking for in the right candidate (which you can find in the written job description). There are usually no more than 3-4 hard and fast requirements. As long as you actually have the requisite experience you must make sure your experiences and qualifications related to those key job requirements are clearly stated and stand out boldly in your resume. Hiring managers and potential employers initially only give each resume a 10-30 second review. That’s all the time you get to initially impress them and consider your candidacy further, so your resume must be a ‘fit’ to hold their attention and keep them reading. I cannot stress enough how important it is to tailor your resume to the position by specifically mentioning the requirements they have listed! They’ve given you the answers to the test – use them to show yourself as the ideal candidate for the position.
Purge Unnecessary Information
Almost as important as specifically highlighting your matching skills, is having the courage to delete superfluous items from your resume. It doesn’t matter how impressive an item is, or how much you want to tell them about it, if it is not relevant to their requirements, save it for the interview. It is just clutter at this point and may deter you from further consideration based on experience that may not be needed or useful in the position for which you are currently applying. The following example illustrates how and why a well-tailored resume is essential to successfully obtaining a highly desired employment opportunity: A candidate with over 20 years selling aviation MRO services was interested in finding his next career sales opportunity and decided to tailor his resume for a specific company’s sales position (utilizing the details and requirements found in the position’s job description). In the sales position’s job description, it clearly stated that the number one requirement for employment selection was “proven and successful experience selling aircraft component repair services to top-tier aviation companies”. The candidate added a section at the beginning of his resume summarizing his sales experience (clients, services sold, value of contracts signed, etc.). As well, the candidate removed information under each company he had worked for previously (found in the ‘Professional Experience’ section of his resume) and only included bullets that pertained to his aircraft component repair service sales experience, stating simply what he sold, to whom, and at what revenue value (i.e., “Sold $5M annual gear box repair services to XYZ company”). The abridged resume was submitted to the hiring manager, who quickly moved forward with the candidate – and ultimately hired him, stating: “I knew before I spoke to the candidate that he had the type of relevant sales experience and contacts required to quickly generate revenue for our company – which was our goal in filling this position”.
Focus on ‘Professional Experience’ Section – the Employer Will
The first thing a hiring manager or potential employer looks at on your resume is your work experience. They want to confirm that you have recent experience in the areas they desire, and that you are not a “job jumper” or “gypsy”. The terms “job jumper” and “gypsy” are applied to candidates who jump from job-to-job, or employer-to-employer. To potential employers it is a deterrent to have worked for an employer for less than 2 years, and worse, for multiple employers within the last 10 years of employment (i.e., 5 or more employers in the last 10 years). They cannot help but wonder why you didn’t stay with your previous employer(s) longer and if you will leave them early as well, wasting company resources (training, benefits, etc.) and causing the company to backfill your position prematurely. If there are short employment durations or gaps in your employment history you must account for them in your resume, and clearly explain the reasons for your career transitions. Your explanation for each career move should be stated as simply and succinctly as possible; but, if the employer does not have concrete and reasonable explanations for your frequent career changes, they will pass on your candidacy.
Begin with your most recent employment and work backwards for up to ten years. There is no need to go further back than that unless there is a very compelling reason to include information that old. Each entry should list the company for whom you worked with a short summary of the company’s capabilities and services/products offered, your job title, and the dates you were employed. The bullets representing your relevant duties/skills under each job title should be limited to no more than 5, and they must cover and depict your qualifications for the referenced positions as stated in the position’s job description. Extra “stuff” could be a distraction for the employer’s initial review – so don’t include accomplishments and experiences that aren’t required or relevant to the job for which you are applying. It is not a lie to delete things, however, you must never include experience or credentials that you do not have. That is lying, and usually doesn’t end well. There is also no need for summaries or superfluous “fluff”. No one will read it, and it detracts from your message that they need look no farther than you for the perfect applicant.
When you have your resume perfectly tailored to the position you desire, review it with “employer eyes”. Make sure that within 15 seconds you see only relevant experience and credentials matching those listed in the job description. Make sure there are no questions unanswered, requirements not addressed, or any blatant grammar or spelling mistakes. Ask yourself if you would hire the person depicted on this resume for the desired position? And finally, ensure that your contact information is obvious and clear. It takes hard work, and is time consuming to secure a job interview; but, a good, tailored resume should put your name at the top of the list.
Written by Sharon Ballgae, CEO of Aviation Recruiting