If you’re applying for job after job and getting nowhere, it’s possible you’re not making the most of the one resource the employer has already given you: the job posting. In the job posting, the employer has given you all the information you need on the EXACT qualifications, qualities, and skills they’re looking for in a new hire. YOUR job is to take that information, plug it into your resume and cover letter, and watch the responses come rolling in. Here is exactly how to use job postings to get your resume noticed! Before you ask…
Yes, you NEED a targeted resume for every application!
Now, don’t go getting all upset because I’m asking you to update your resume and cover letter for EVERY job you apply for. Take a minute and consider the benefits:
- Your resume gets past Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) quickly and easily, so it’s seen by a real human instead of going into application purgatory.
- That human who reviews your resume sees you as the PERFECT candidate for this job. Every time.
- The employer can’t help but want to meet you. Now you can prove your value to the company in an interview!
Taking the extra time to personalize and target each and every application you send out pays off big time. Don’t take the easy way out and skip it. Here are some great ways to use that job posting to your best advantage:
Use their job title.
At the top of your resume, you should have a summary section which spells out in a short paragraph why you’re perfect for this job based on your experiences and skills. To begin the summary section, use the job title on the posting as YOUR professional title. It could look something like this:
By using THEIR job title, you’re telling the employer (and the ATS system you have to bypass first) that THIS is the position you want — not any other job they may have posted, not any other job their competitors may have posted. THIS job.
Use their action verbs.
If the job posting saying they are looking for someone to “design” something FOUR TIMES throughout the posting, take note! That one little action verb tells you designing is a BIG part of the job. Be sure to highlight your design experience in your summary, your core competencies bullets, and in your experience section. Let ATS and that employer know without a doubt YOU are HIGHLY qualified for this job.
Be sure to include in your resume ANY repeating action verbs from the job description. Obviously, don’t make up skills or experiences you don’t have just to match the posting, but anything you DO have? Oh, yeah. Bring it!
Use their key skills.
Sometimes employers will list within their postings a list of technical or specialty skills they want their new hire to have. Especially in tech, medical, or marketing fields where the use of specialized technology is HIGH, pay attention to the skills lists and be SURE to include any you have on your resume.
Along with skills, there may be requirements for knowing certain software, hardware, or other pieces of industry-specific technology. There are MANY industries nowadays where you HAVE to show employers you know the basic — and even up-and-coming or advanced — tech that is commonly used within the field.
The best way to demonstrate these types of skills is to create a separate section for listing out all the technology you’re familiar with, and be SUPER thorough! Most employers will assume you are proficient with MS Office, so typically, you don’t need to include it among your skills. However, if you are a whiz with Excel or Access or another of the lesser-known MS programs, include it! Also, be sure to list which version of the program you’ve been using. It may be that the company you’re applying to has been using a previous version and hiring someone with experience using the updated version might be a selling point.
Here are a few examples of different ways to format these tech or skills sections:Use their language and tone.
Once your resume is in front of human eyeballs, matching the language and tone of the job posting helps the employer to subconsciously view you as someone who would mesh well with the company culture. If the job posting is fun, upbeat, and maybe even a little silly, it’s okay to use more playful language in your summary and definitely in your cover letter. However, if the job posting is dry as the Sahara and “just the facts, ma’am,” make sure you’re resume and cover letter toe the line with formal language and a serious tone. Don’t give them ANY reason to disqualify you because of “cultural fit.” (Unless you wouldn’t want to work in a company like that anyway. In which case — why are you applying??)
Target that application!
Have you got a feel for how to use job postings to get your resume noticed? Awesome. Now, take that knowledge and run with it! As always, if you need help along the way, give me a shout in the comments or on my resume-writing page. I’m happy to help!
As a former University Resident Director, Career Counselor, Certified Personality Trainer, and high school Spanish teacher, Laura has quite the “scattered” background — with one underlying theme: education! She writes to teach and inspire women on topics related to faith, family, and lifework. She is also a resume writer, specializing in resumes for moms, career changers, and new graduates.