Is Customizing Your Resume For Every Job Really That Important

Conventional wisdom says you MUST customize your resume for every job you apply to, but is that right?

New survey research (p.24) by Kimberly Schneiderman and outplacement firm RiseSmart shows that customization isn’t always needed.

They asked 273 recruiters and hiring managers, “How closely does a resume need to match the [job] description to warrant a next step with you?”

As you can see in the chart below, only 20% of the responding recruiters and hiring managers want perfection:

80% are willing to deal with reality.

Thus, if you’re crunched for time, send your resume whether it’s a perfect match for the job posting or not. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. If you’re a good fit, you have a four in five chance of that being OK.*

*Do consider your market. If it’s hot, and candidates are hard to find, recruiters will be more flexible than if they’re deluged with near perfect, almost-10’s. Much of the “always customize” advice was published during the Great Recession and hasn’t been updated.

Increase Your Odds of Success

When not customizing, you’ll up your odds of success if your resume has already been written to give recruiters:

  1. The information they want: Where you’ve worked, for how long, and what you did (responsibilities and accomplishments). See the research findings here and here.

  2. In a format that’s easy for them to read on desktop, laptop, and mobile.


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