In my previous post, I asked you not to update your resume before you did 3 things:

  1. Define goals for yourself – what type of role do you want?
  2. Find an open role (or multiple)
  3. Research the company you hope to join

Now that you have a solid understanding of the type of role and company you are applying to, we can focus on creating a targeted resume to land you an interview.

Step one – build the foundation.

You should not use the same resume for all job applications. Just as you won't use the same cover letter. Your application needs to be targeted to that specific role and company.

This will take some time, but this effort will highlight your dedication. It's the easiest way to set yourself apart in the process.

But there's another reason why you would create targeted resumes – keywords. These are the specific words that will help you land an interview. For example, if your resume is reviewed by an automated applicant tracking systems (ATS), it is screened for certain keywords and could be discarded if your keywords don't match the criteria. More on this below.

My advice here is to put together a simple document with the 4 main sections a resume should have:

  • Summary Statement & Personal Information
  • Work Experience
  • Education
  • Skills & Certifications

Make sure the document is easy to edit. Other sections like "Volunteering", "Awards" and "Interests" are great too and you can easily add these in the final version of your resume, if necessary.

There are many tools that can help you build your resume:

I personally love the templates that come with the Pages application on Mac. They're not complex or overly designed, and can be quickly edited to create a professional resume.

The most important part of your resume is the content, not the design. Just make sure the document looks clean and readable, with plenty of white space and adequate margins.

Step two – target, target, target.

Imagine you want to apply to a Data Science Manager role at Airbnb. These are the qualification requirements:

This should give you an immediate idea of what your keywords for the role should be – analysis, analytics, data, payments, SQL, Python, R, statistics, machine learning, management, technical, roadmaps, business, models.

You can also copy and past the entire job post into a platform like WordCounter to identify keyword density and complement your research. Another great way to personalise your application is to research the company's mission statement. For example, Airbnb's keywords could be "host", "welcome" and "authentic". If these keywords don't fit well with your resume, use them in your cover letter instead.

Once you have your keywords, you'll need to work them into your resume.

The goal is to help the hiring manager match your experience to the requirements of the role. Competition is tough and sometimes there are hundreds of candidates applying to the same position.

Some studies even go as far as stating that hiring managers spend an average of 6 seconds reviewing (or, in this case, skimming) each resume. Your job is to deliver impactful information and extend those 6 seconds into a complete review and hopefully an interview.

Deliver the information hiring managers need in a clear and efficient way, and don't forget – always highlight your experience through measurable achievements.

Step three – Profit?

I wish I could guarantee that a targeted resume will land you a job. But the truth is, if done well, it will increase your chances at landing an interview.

Always remember that your resume represents who you are as a person.

Here's the advice I usually share when reviewing resumes:

  • Well-written, thoughtful and concise resumes show you care about presentation.
  • Align your experience to the job's requirements and organise the information strategically.
  • Focus on your last 2-3 roles. Add up to 5 bullet points per role and keep your resume at 2 pages maximum.
  • Match keywords from the job description and avoid buzzwords at all costs. They don't add value.  

Up next: crafting an impactful application

In my next post, I will share some advice on how to create a thoughtful application to the role you're applying to.

We will cover how to:

  • Write a targeted cover letter
  • Find ways to make your application stand out
  • Respectfully follow up with the hiring manager

Not sure where to start looking?

If you're looking for a new job, check the 💰 Fresh Cash series – recently funded companies are typically hiring. This list is completely up to date with 10 weeks worth of recent Series A and B investments.

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