Ask LH: Should I Tweak My Resume When I'm Already On The Shortlist?

Dear Lifehacker, Much of your advice around resumes is all about getting your foot in the door -- past the auto-screeners and the six-second glances. But what if I'm already in the door? I'm being referred for a job, and I'm wondering if you've got any advice for this situation. I figure they'll spend a bit longer looking at it since they're giving me an interview. Thanks, Resume The Position

Dear RTP,

Whether you're hunting for a job or being head-hunted yourself, you should always customise your resume to meet the position requirements as closely as possible. This means only focusing on skills that are relevant to the job at hand and addressing each of the key selection criteria in detail.

As professional career advisor Irene Kotov explains, submitting a resume to an already interested party is kind of like going on a first date:

"Making a great first impression dictates whether you get an opportunity for another date. There are no second chances. You want to connect to the reader on a deeper level so they are interested enough to ask you on another date (so to speak).   "The ultimate way to do this is to start taking note of the keywords that are being used, and pepper them throughout your resume (assuming you have those skills of course). The job ad and position description acts as a cheat sheet of sorts."

Another good tip is to list specific accomplishments, rather than simple job descriptions. Presumably, the employer already knows you have the necessary qualifications for the job, so a dry list of positions and responsibilities is unlikely to boost your chances.

Instead, go into a bit more detail about what you accomplished — what were the overarching results of your day-to-day tasks? Without achievements, your foot isn't going to stay wedged in the door for long. The more impressive you sound on the page, the better.

It can also help to customise your resume to fit the sector. If the job is IT related, your resume should demonstrate proficiency with a variety of programs that pertain to the job without getting bogged down in minutia. As a recent US News column explains:

For technical résumés, the section of technologies could be pretty long [but] we want it to be palatable to the reader so you can break it down into categories. Instead of having 30 or 40 technologies listed, break it down by software, or hardware, or languages, or applications, or networks or however you want to do it that makes sense for your particular industry.

Above all, exude confidence! You already know the company is interested in you, so don't be afraid to get a little personable in your cover letter. You should also explain why you would be an asset to the company and tie this into your personal achievements. Good luck!

If anyone has additional ideas that could help RTP stand out from the crowd, share your tips in the comments section below.

Cheers Lifehacker

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