Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal

TRANSFORMING GENERIC RESUMES and COVER LETTERS to LASER-FOCUSED CAREER COMMUNICATIONS

Academic journal article Career Planning and Adult Development Journal

TRANSFORMING GENERIC RESUMES and COVER LETTERS to LASER-FOCUSED CAREER COMMUNICATIONS

Article excerpt

Though most job seekers have heard that it is important to put in time and effort to customize each job application, many of them continue to use generic documents - resumes and cover letters that they hope will be one-size-fits-all applications. Some job seekers just want to save time, while others do not fully understand how to tailor their documents to match specific job openings. In the end, the result is the same: Job seekers end up with documents that do not fulfill the most basic functions of capturing the reader's attention and securing the interview.

Generic documents:

* Do not have position- and company-specific information.

* Do not accurately reflect all that the job seeker can do for that potential employer.

* Do not take into account the specific requirements of each position.

The most critical issue with using generic documents is that the reader cannot determine how well the job seeker will fit into the proposed position. To solve this problem (and many others), career professionals should help their clients tailor their documents to each position for which they intend to apply. Eventually, the savvy job seeker will have a strong portfolio of multiple job-search documents, so that the tailoring process will be faster and require little, if any, professional assistance.

This article will discuss strategies for laser-focusing two of the most important documents in any job search: resumes and cover letters.

One caveat: If someone's job search is very finite in terms of position, industry, location, and other key variables, then the changes you'll make to the resume and cover letter might be very minor in particular situations. Generally speaking, however, searches are often much broader, and that's what this article is all about - how to laser-focus your clients and their career communications!

The Resume

Several areas in a resume can be tailored and targeted toward open positions, specifically:

* The objective or summary and branding statement

* The work history section

* The small details: organizations, affiliations, languages, and more

It is critical that the job seeker take time with each section on the resume to make sure that the details match the job requirements. When perused, all the sections of a resume should help the reader determine that the job seeker is a perfect match for the targeted position.

The Objective or Summary and Branding Statement

A resume's introduction is critical to capturing the employer's attention. Many resumes begin with a generic objective statement that can be used to apply for almost any position. Something that can be used for any position, however, is effective for none of them. Take a look at the two example objectives below:

"Seeking a position to utilize experience in a diverse environment where hard work and dedication will be recognized and rewarded accordingly."

"Results-oriented manager looking to apply expertise in a leadership position."

Objectives like these have become incredibly common on modern resumes. Read them carefully and you'll see that they don't really tell the reader anything of importance. What kind of industry or specific title are these job seekers looking for? How could they benefit the company that hires them? Why should the resume's reader consider them for an interview? Why is this job seeker different from the other candidates? These questions should be addressed in the introductory section of every resume, but the statements above answer none of them.

On the other extreme side of the spectrum, some job seekers write generic summaries that run overlong and do not add valuable information. For example, the summary might include a detailed work history that is then repeated in the work experience section. Or the summary might be filled with softskills such as team-oriented or able to work with multiple cultures. While softskills do have a place in the resume, without specific accomplishments or details to explain them, they do not provide useful information for readers. …

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