Getting Away from Generic Resumes and Increasing Your Potential for Specific Employment Opportunities

Avoid Generic Resumes

Most people develop typical, generic employment resumes that are often headlined with a basic cover-letter, a generally desired occupation, basic job descriptions and a general break down of previous experiences that should help qualify them for most industry-related job opportunities. Often, the common goal of the job-seeker is to circulate the generic resume to as many employers as possible, in hopes of luring recruiters and qualifying themselves for the maximum number of available job opportunities. One can simply refer to this as, 'the numbers game' towards seeking employment. But, are the long term results exactly what you want out of your next career move?

Truth is, many recruiters interest are more captured by the particular resume that specifically list a more direct cover-letter, customized employment goals and qualifications that more readily identify with the particular job descriptions and requirements listed and advertised by their firm's recruiter.  

In many cases, if there is a particular job opportunity with a firm that you feel directly speaks to you, one should custom tailor their particular resume to speak directly to the opportunity.

The following represents a list of ways to possibly improve your odds of getting noticed for specific job opportunities by custom tailoring your application.

Be specific in the job search

When listing key-words to identify job opportunities, list as many words that truly speak to your desired goals and qualifications. For example, instead of just using the word "sales," in a company's job search, try using additional words such as: account executive, client management, self-generated leads, cold-calling, presidents club, commissions, security clearance and producer. This may help to identify that specific job opportunity that is more in tuned to your short and long-term career goals. There is generally no limit to word searches, so don't hesitate to be more specific.

Include industry related equipment and specific software that you have used in previous occupations that relate to the job. Considering your desired job in sales, you may want to include words such as: Goldmine, customer relationship management software, ACT, Oracle and other key words that may link specific opportunities related to your ideal job.

Carefully read and relate to the specific job description

Place yourself in the shoes of the recruiter and try to paint a picture of what the person ideally wants in their dream candidate, opposed to simply telling them all of what you can do. Trim down your general experience to try and match exactly what they are looking for, even if you have to describe your experience or qualifications as 'brief amount of experience' or 'limited professional exposure to' a particular skill. The recruiter can at least understand that you have some familiarization with what they want and are willing to grow and learn. Be sure to put that you are willing to grow and expand in your chosen field with your next employment opportunity. Use personality words like great communication skills, sales driven, self-motivated, multi-tasker and excellent closer.

Research the organization

Online websites such as Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Facebook, and the 'in the news' section of the company website, may provide valuable insights of internal issues happening within an organization and explain why an employer may be attempting to attract new customers, or may be experiencing other issues such as high employee turn-over rates. Try to understand the direction and challenges of the company, particularly if they have recently merged, filed bankruptcy, received new contracts, experienced recent social controversies, or acquired new business partners.

If the company has several locations and/or is developing new locations throughout the area or region, be sure to list if you speak different languages that may apply to that region. State that your goal is to hit the ground running and/or that you are flexible to relocate with the right opportunity. Flexibility can go a long way with recruiters that need new employees to grow with the particular needs of the organization.

If there is a new senior person with the organization, try to mention things, experiences and people that you may know in common with the person. This can be key during an interview and to a certain extent, within the cover letter. Try to read bio material of the person and speak to their history, new product lines, management style, diversity and/or new direction of the company.

In the cover letter, mention that you deeply appreciate the direction that you see the organization going to based on their recent activity. Be sure to mention that this is a one of the primary reasons that has attracted you to them and has help persuaded you to select working with them over their competitors.

As an example, CVS has recently started a new campaign that brings attention to their announcement not to feature cigarettes in their stores. Or perhaps reference other philanthropic and socially conscious endeavors of the organization. Be sure to communicate what actions like this means to you professionally, socially and personally.  This can be a valuable opportunity to distinguish yourself from similarly qualified candidates and share similar philosophies with organizational leadership.

Better customization of your resume can more effectively catch the eye of recruiters, easily help you get noticed and better enable you to land the dream job you've always wanted.


Ed Crenshaw is a US Navy veteran, diversity practitioner, disability subject matter expert and creator of the innovative “Preparing Employers to Reintegrate Combat Exposed Veterans with Disabilities” (P.E.R.C.E.V.D.) diversity training program. He is also the author of the books, “The P.E.R.C.E.V.D. Principles” and “The Employers Guide to Understanding Hidden Conditions Related to Suicide.” As a well-renown professional speaker, Ed is a passionate champion and respected advocate for people with disabilities.