This is the second part of a 3-part series dealing with alternative ways of making a living through writing. Victoria Sawtelle is a community manager at Uptowork – a career blog with +1.5 million monthly readers. I agreed to share this guest post because they have created an amazingly detailed guide on how to make a writer’s resume, with over 30 examples and detailed, step-by-step instructions. Uptowork has kindly agreed to offer my readers free access to their resume builder, so if anyone’s interested, use the free trial code ZgyI50xW.
How to Tailor Your Resume — Tips for Writers
You’re a writer.
You’ve written copy for newsletters, popular guides for blogs, and insightful articles for news outlets.
You’ve rewritten more buzzword-loving execs you care to count.
Ghostwriting? Been there, done that.
Plus, there’s that novel you’re working on.
You can write it all—
But for an interview-winning resume, it seems.
I know it hurts, I’ve been there.
There is a fix, however.
Recruiters won’t read your resume if you don’t do this
Writing a resume seems like the easiest thing to do.
Recall all the jobs you’ve held over the years and plonk them on a single page. Add your email address and a link to your professional website. Then, just keep hitting refresh in our inbox folder.
This is what all the other writers are doing.
Except for that one person. That single candidate who made hiring them the easiest thing to do.
They knew how to customize their resume.
Recruiters are the toughest crowd to write for. Why?
Because they are not a homogenous crowd. They are all individuals trying to find a specific hire for a specific job.
You simply can’t write one resume and send it out to several hiring managers.
They’re busy. They’re engaged in several processes. They’ve got a deadline a stack of resumes that all look the same.
No wonder they’ll just pick the few candidates who seem to have actually read the job ad.
Don’t worry. This is a blessing in disguise.
If you grab their attention in the first few seconds, they’ll read on. If you address their needs in your resume, you’ll demonstrate you’re the right person for the job.
10 Steps To The Perfect Resume
This is how to make employers fall in love with your resume (10 easy steps.)
- Write down all your skills, traits, and experience you possess. This will be your master list.
- Read the job description. Highlight any requirements listed.
- Compare the two lists. They don’t have to be a perfect match. You might not meet one or two requirements, but you might also have a few relevant strengths the employer would thank for.
- Start writing your resume. Keep in mind that a perfect resume is written with a particular position in mind.
- Don’t just copy-paste the matching skills into your resume’s skills list and call it a day!
- Mention the most important skills and experience in other sections. This includes the professional summary, work experience section, education, and other.
- Don’t think of responsibilities, think of achievements. In the end, everyone knows that a writer writes. Tell the recruiter how well you do it.
- Pepper your resume with those skill keywords you identified in the ad.
- Don’t include each and every skill you possess. Limit yourself to a few additional skills that look most relevant and impressive.
- Always include a cover letter, even when not explicitly asked. You’re a writer. Don’t say no to the best possible opportunity to show off your skills and enthusiasm for the job.
Pro tip: It might be tempting to use a ready-made cover letter template to save time. Don’t do it. Recruiters don’t have to run applications through plagiarism detecting software to tell that something smells fishy.
Applicant Tracking Systems
Why does all of this matter?
Remember how recruiters get way too many applications?
Enter Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS).
ATS software scans each and every resume to make sure it’s relevant. They sieve out non-relevant applications.
Unfortunately, Applicant Tracking Systems are far from perfect. The only thing they can do is to compare the contents of each resume with the job description from the ad. If you don’t mention a certain skill, the program assumes you don’t possess it.
If you miss too many or don’t mirror the vocabulary in the ad, the verdict will be: Reject.
Pro tip: Once you read up on Applicant Tracking Systems, you’ll feel pressure to just copy-paste all of the keywords wherever possible. Keyword stuffing will get you nowhere — some ATSs recognize when you are trying to game the system. Plus, the final reader is a human. It’s easy for recruiters to tell what you’re up to!
To be a successful writer, you have to be a successful listener first.
Carefully read each job ad to find out what the hiring manager wants to talk about. Hear them out. Then, write the perfect reply in the form of a tailored resume and cover letter.
Get it right, and you’ll soon start getting interview invitations!