In your endless search for the perfect online resume writing guide, you will likely encounter many suggestions that seem to contradict one another. Scanning through the search results may reveal one blogger's opinion that employers are looking for streamlined, modern style resumes highlighting only a handful of valuable skills. Many endorse this view of resumes, preferring them to be extremely trim.
Still, you will find articles that swear on pain of death that most employers prefer and will only seriously consider resumes that adhere to the age-old style and conventions; only the familiar grid of education, work experience, practical or volunteer experience, applicable skills, awards, honors, and memberships will do.
There is one camp of people that claims resumes have evolved and employers don't care to know your entire history before hiring you. There is another that claims the old way is best. And there are those that have arguments for every point of the spectrum that falls between these opposing viewpoints. So, what is the truth?
RESUMES SHOULD ADAPT TO FIT EMPLOYERS
A simple answer to the question posed above is that the preferred style of resumes has not changed so dramatically over time that we should completely rethink the way we write them. There isn't a one-size-fits-all secret formula, anyway. There is no one style of resume that will unfailingly guarantee an interview. A resume cannot be replicated word-for-word and used to win over an employer it was not specifically written for.
If you've been researching resume writing, you're probably familiar with the idea that resumes should be unique, meaning that a new resume should be created and specifically tailored to suit each job you are applying for. This is why it is so crucial to know your audience.
HOW TO WRITE FOR A SPECIFIC AUDIENCE
You might be applying for jobs that are all very similar in nature, but every employer is different. Imagine you are applying for a position at a nonprofit organization. Here are some things to consider:
- What is the organization's primary mission or goal? How do you align with the organization's mission and how can you help them achieve their goals?
- Why would you be a good fit for this particular organization? Do you have the skills or experience in the field or area that the organization would expect you to operate in?
- Why do you want to work for this organization?
These may seem like questions any person with common sense would consider while crafting their resume. The issue is that many applicants don't understand how important it is to write specifically to the employer they're applying to, failing to fully optimize their resume. Often, applicants will take a basic template of their already written resume and add or cut out information until they think it is a better fit.
A good resume is built from the ground up with an understanding of the employer's mission and goals, and much consideration to how you can aid the employer in their endeavors and the furtherance of their vision. Basically, it should be obvious that you are familiar with the organization, you are competent, you understand what the organization is trying to do, you are motivated, you care, and you want to help. Every word that you include in your resume should reflect these ideas.
In particular, this means that you should carefully consider what you include in your resume and how you phrase it. If the nonprofit organization you're applying to is primarily involved in digging wells for communities without clean water, this doesn't mean that your experience as a sales representative is inapplicable. It does mean that you should consider how your experience is applicable and how it will help you in your new position.
Maybe you won't be involved in sales at this organization, but you will be involved with people — and your experience working closely with and alongside other people will allow you to work and communicate efficiently in this new position so that you help those people that are in need, fulfilling the organization's vision.
The bottom line is that resumes, like people, have to be adaptable if they want to succeed. Don't be fooled into thinking there is one style or method that is the new "thing" all companies are looking for. Each employer is looking for something different, and the resumes they take most seriously will be the ones they believe are the best match for the job and the organization.
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