“Why should I spend time customizing my resume for a single job application when recruiters only look at it for 6 seconds?”

Maybe you’ve seen this question asked by job searchers on LinkedIn, or maybe you’ve asked it yourself. While there are lots of possible answers to this question, the simplest one is this:

You should spend the time to create a resume customized for the job you want, because there’s always someone else who will. The resume that best demonstrates the qualifications the employer is seeking is the one whose owner will be called for an interview.

You should invest time in preparing your resume because it is the key to the first door between you and the job offer you want.

Applicants (and their resumes) pass through a series of filters to reach the job offer stage

For his article, 2017 Recruiting Data Shows Fewer Job Applicants, More Hires, Roy Maurer received input from several recruiters and HR experts, including external recruiting chief, Kris Dunn. Dunn told him that the recruiter’s job is to screen the candidates and only show those whom they consider the best to the hiring manager.

In an ideal situation, Dunn added, a recruiter may forward just six candidates to the hiring manager who then chooses only three to interview. That’s a pretty short list.  

Of course, depending on the role to be filled, other talent managers may cast a wider net. But as with any other part of their operations, businesses seek efficiency when hiring.

So even if a company is willing to conduct dozens of interviews to find the right person for the job, each of those applicants will first need to demonstrate that interviewing him or her is worth the hiring manager’s time.

How do companies that receive a large volume of applicants keep their hiring processes running efficiently? By using systems that allow them to quickly disqualify applicants who aren’t qualified.

 

Customize your resume to avoid the disqualifying round and land an interview  

The process of elimination in hiring is one of the main reasons you should tailor your resume for the job to which you’re applying. At this early stage, your resume may be reviewed by comparing the content of your resume with a checklist of qualifications. Alternatively, that comparison may be conducted by an automated applicant tracking system (ATS) using a resume matching algorithm.

Even if a hiring manager personally reviews your resume, you can bet that the first look-over will be a quick one. That “6-second” figure comes from a real report on recruiters’ behavior published by Ladders in 2012. The good news? If you make it past this initial screening, your resume may gain an additional 4 to 5 minutes of attention!

Regardless of who or what scans your resume, they’ll be looking to see if you have the skills that the job posting requires. So, customizing your resume to include keywords and phrases that demonstrate those skills is how you’ll get past both the resume-matching algorithms and the human screeners – and from there to an interview.

Additionally, if you make it to the 4 or 5 minute review stage, the time you invested in customizing your resume will stand as proof that you are interested in the specific job to which you applied, rather than sending a general resume to every potential employer you encounter.

Explaining what’s at stake in the Ladders 2018 Resume Guide, Marc Cenedella writes that your resume “needs to show that you have the appetite, the ability, and the ambition to take the role as the next step in your career”. Making your resume specific will help demonstrate that you are serious about landing the particular job in question.

Your decision to tailor your resume may be the single factor that puts you ahead of other applicants and propels you through to the next stage.

Pull ahead of the competition and land the job with a resume aimed for success

In her 2017 Harvard Business Review article, which offered tips about how to customize a resume, Jane Heifetz succinctly explains, “Is it worth the time to so carefully review job postings and then tailor your resume to each position’s requirements? Absolutely, if you want hiring managers to immediately see why you’re an exceptional candidate worthy of an interview.”

Each open job is ultimately won by a single candidate. If you are certain that you want to land an interview with the company to which you are applying, then aim for success with a targeted resume.