In my early days of recruiting, a resume was a static (and sometimes very lengthy) document that regurgitated your career story, kind of like a memoir. A hiring attorney or reader would actually, well, read it – and then think about how you might be a fit for a position.
For better or worse, those days are long over. The statistics I have read vary a bit, but most studies suggest that employers spend 5-10 seconds on an initial review of a resume. Your resume must be concise and to the point. You must do more than tell your story but instead tell the hiring manager why you are the solution to their problem and how you are a perfect fit for a position/firm. You are no longer in the business of writing a memoir. No. You are in the business of sales. Edit every resume for the reader!
Here are some tips for tailoring –
1. Start with a strong “working” resume
You should always have a draft or “working” resume at the ready. Even if you are happy in your current position, you could learn of that dream job – or you may be thrown a career curveball and need to begin a search very quickly. Always have a working resume in your back pocket for those moments. It is a brief account of your education, experience and qualifications – that you are hopefully updating relatively frequently.
2. Review details of the job
Job descriptions, ads or postings can be very helpful to review and use for tailoring. These resources give great insight into how to highlight your experience and skills to match a particular position. Add bullet points, remove bullet points, and move bullet points around in your resume to most closely reflect the job to which you are applying. That said, make sure that you remain candid and truthful about your experience. For instance, if you are applying for a corporate transactional attorney position and have five years of litigation experience and only one year of corporate experience, you can certainly highlight the relevant corporate experience, but do not omit or disingenuously misrepresent the years of litigation (though you can certainly remove/minimize some of the litigation details for a corporate-focused resume).
3. Words (including keywords) matter
There are often many ways to describe the same experience or skill set, but in the case of a resume, try to mirror the verbiage in an ad or job description. The ultimate hiring manager is often not the first person who will review your resume for suitability for the position, and the initial eyes may be very focused on the exact words used in a job description.
4. Proofread carefully
Finally, your resume is typically the first example of your writing to a prospective employer. As you would any writing sample, be sure to proofread the resume carefully, confirming not only the underlying facts and dates but also the word tense and punctuation. An up-to-date and well-tailored resume can be the golden ticket to an exciting new opportunity!
Founder and Co-President