What is a “Focused” Resume and Why is it the #1 Priority for Job Search?

These days you might hear the term “Focused Resume” or “Focused Job Search”.  It is a term that is full of meaning but unless you’ve had someone sit down and explain it to you, you might still be guessing.

The conditions that spawned this term have been the economic situation that has left hiring managers in the plush position of having any candidate they want.  What the hiring manager wants right now is an almost impossibly perfect fit for a candidate.  In fact, in some professions, there has been a debate as to whether or not anyone actually exists with some of the skills being outlined in some job descriptions.  Nevertheless, gone are the days when a degree or even some great transferable skills would open the door.  They don’t want to interpret whether or not a candidate could do a job.  They want the candidate to do two things on their resumes:

1 – Tell them only the skills that directly apply to the job

2- Demonstrate they can deliver on the promise by showing results and accomplishments

Knowing these two goals, that’s where “focused resume” comes in.  You must focus your job search and therefore your resume on 1 or maybe 2 position-types.  That means you must display only the key elements of your background that directly relate to that position.  For many job seekers, that sends a chill down their back because many people think that will limit their ability to get a job in any reasonable timeframe.  Many job seekers launch their job search with a generic resume which nicely spans all sorts of skills and results and seek “something” that sounds good.  That process will not work.

Here are the steps for Focusing your Job Search & Resume:

1- Identify the position you are seeking.  Job title is only somewhat irrelevant because people can call some jobs pretty much anything they want which means you are identifying a position based on job content.  Don’t do anything else in your job search until you’ve done this step.  If you do, you will be wasting your time.  If you are a person with a diverse background, this can be challenging.

2- Identify key skills.  Do your homework and study various job openings and the description of the job.  You will be able to start seeing specific job requirements repeated after you have looked at 3-5.  These skills need to be the center piece to your resume, assuming you have those skills to begin with.  If not, you are barking up the wrong tree.  Stop here and start over.

3- Identify a keyword list.  While you’re doing step 2, you should be developing a keyword list that may be words used to locate people in various Applicant Tracking Systems or on the internet.  Keywords are as much of an art as it is a science but want to inject keywords in your resume and Linked In Profile so you can be found during candidate searches.

4- Mold your resume and Linked profile.  Now that you know what position-type you are pursuing along with the keywords and skills, modify your resume to “focus” on those elements.  You certainly can have other skills in both your resume and LI profile to show your diversity but you have to understand that will only be considered interesting if the other key things are there.

5- Let your network know.  Your network will only be as good as the information you give it.  Now that you can clearly articulate the position you are going after, tell them in very specific terms.

6- Pursue those positions.  Now that you have your entire job search materials focused you can confidently pursue those positions knowing you are clearly communicating the most important things the hiring manager wants to see.

You can’t get by with just looking for anything.  It sounds like a contradiction to say you will open up more possibilities by Focusing your Resume and Job Search.  You will have more hiring managers and recruiters pay attention to you and that’s what matters.

For more career tips and advice – FREE newsletter and eworkbook: http://CareerMakeoverToolKitShouldIstayorShouldIGo.com/  From Dorothy Tannahill-Moran – Your Career Change Agent from www.nextchapternewlife.com and www.mbahighway.com

Dorothy Tannahill-Moran is a certified life and career coach. She works with aspiring professionals who are looking for career growth, advancement and entry into the “C” suite. As well, she works with people to overcome the sometimes daunting task of changing careers. With over 21 years in management, Dorothy has coached, trained and guided other professionals who have gone on to impressive and fulfilling careers. Her personal philosophy about careers is: “It’s not JUST a job; it’s half your life – so love your career”. You can check out her resources, blog and services at Next Chapter New Life and MBA Highway.

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  1. Jessica writes a very concise and to-the-point summary of customizing a resume to focus on meeting the employer’s needs, the critical role keywords have taken, and how do you pull it altogether with your achievements to get them interested in a candidate. Take note of including “only relative information.” I see so many resumes that were created from the “I’m still in of the box from how it used to be.” It’s just not that way anymore. Thanks, Jessica for a great article!

  2. A focused resume is certainly important for the job search. Sending multiple companies a generic resume is certainly not advisable if you want to position yourself as the most skilled candidate for each position. Job seekers should carefully review job descriptions and company websites, then identify and include how their skills and experiences fit the position/company mission. The same goes for the cover letter. Though it takes a bit of extra time, tailoring each document will be worth it in the long run!

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