How to Turn Your Cookie-Cutter Resume into a Customized One

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When you submit your resume to a hiring manager, you want to stand out. Unless you do, there’s little to no chance you’ll get the job. While many key components of a resume are always the same, there are ways to customize yours and distinguish it from everybody else’s. This helps you easily stand out from the crowd and land the job you want. Worried you have a cookie-cutter resume? Contact a resume expert today for an evaluation!

The disadvantages of a cookie-cutter resume

It’s certainly easy to download a resume template and fill it in, but you run the risk of never having it perused by a human being. Most companies use applicant tracking systems (ATSs) to evaluate resumes and weed out the subpar ones, including cookie-cutter submissions. The latter are resumes that contain buzzwords, generic formatting, and non-descriptive details concerning the applicant’s skills and experience. 

So, if you submit a generic resume that just about anyone could have sent, it’ll probably never land on the recruiter’s desk. Provided your cookie-cutter resume is fortunate enough to make it past the ATS, the hiring manager will only spend an average of 5-7 seconds looking at it. With a cookie-cutter resume, you might as well kiss that job opportunity goodbye.

The advantages of a customized resume

There are many advantages to submitting a customized resume. For one thing, it is much more likely to land in the hands of a hiring manager and impress them. Of course, that’s never a guarantee, but it will put you miles ahead of competitors with generic resumes. 

As you tailor your resume to a specific job, you don’t need to rewrite it completely. Start by drafting a custom resume, then tweak it as you apply for different jobs. Let’s take a look at the advantages of a customized resume. 

1. It mimics the job description

Before you even begin writing (or tweaking) your resume, carefully read and re-read the job description, looking for keywords and phrases specific to that position. Evaluate which of the specified skills you have and make sure they show up on your resume. 

Not only should you use the same keywords as the job description (the ATS might assume your resume is irrelevant if you don’t), but you should also use the same job title to show the hiring manager that’s the one you are after. Don’t leave any room for doubt. The recruiter will also see that you took the time to create a resume tailored for the job, and they’ll be impressed with your dedication and effort. 

2. It proves the skills you’ve listed

When you list your skills on your resume, consider how you can prove them. Anybody can just cram in all the skills mentioned in the job description, so you need to demonstrate your value by proving you really possess these skills. You can do it by noting how you used them in the past to produce quantifiable results. So, think about your most impressive achievements and list those instead of your responsibilities. After all, simply cataloging your responsibilities doesn’t tell the hiring manager whether you were any good at those previous jobs. 

It will be even better if you can fit figures and statistics into your descriptions. For example, if you’re applying for the position of financial officer, you can prove you did grow revenue by mentioning that in your last job, you “increased the company’s revenue by more than 10% in three months.”

3. It places the important information first

On average, hiring managers spend just a few seconds on a resume, so how you present the information is crucial. The general rule is that you should place your most important information in the top one-third part of the first page. Don’t cram everything into that tiny spot, but do put the most important information there to grab the hiring manager’s attention and entice them to read your entire resume. The information in this section should showcase the best you have to offer and work to offset any less appealing elements on your resume. How can you do this?

First, your professional summary is critical for attracting a recruiter’s attention. Hiring managers want to know why you even desire the job, so tell them in your career summary. Mention also the key skills you have that will allow you to succeed in the job. Basically, highlight the absolute most important things you want the recruiter to know.

Next, include your skills and qualifications. Insert keywords from the job description—look for the job requirements listed, and you’ll find the most important keywords there. Add all the qualifications mentioned that you have, and present them starting from the strongest to the weakest. The more impactful the beginning of your resume is, the better.

Finally, include your work experience. This is where you prove your skills by showing what they’ve helped you achieve. Keep your descriptions brief but effective. Aim for being concise, which will also demonstrate your communication skills. If you can master the order of information on your resume, you can entice the hiring manager to spend more time on it.

4. It demonstrates professionalism

Hiring managers are always looking for true professionals, and they judge whether you’re one based on your resume. They can tell if you’ve carefully tailored it for the job or just thrown it together in a matter of minutes. Given that they go through thousands of submissions, recruiters can also detect a template resume from a mile away. 

A professional resume includes all the important information, of course, but it’s also free from errors. Most hiring managers will stop reading a resume when they find a mistake in spelling, punctuation, capitalization, grammar, or format. You can spend hours adding all the right information, but if it’s not delivered in a professional way, all that effort would be in vain. So read and keep rereading your resume to make sure it’s error-free, then send it off to professional proofreaders for a final check.

Are you content with a cookie-cutter resume that will never make it past the ATS, or do you want a customized resume that can land you a job? If you need help customizing your resume, our resume experts are here to help!

Improve Your Resume or CV