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How to read a job description and tailor your resume

Did you read the job description from top to bottom?

When I write resumes and CVs for my clients, I ask them to provide me with the link to the job they wish to apply for. I read the job description from top to bottom and ensure I understand the role and how it aligns with their current skillset or transferable skills.

If you are a job seeker, looking to understand how to read a job description before applying to a role, keep reading.

“Success seems to be connected to action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they never quit.” —J.W. Marriot

1. Read the job description from top to bottom, including the mission statement

I have read hundreds of resumes. When a candidate has read the entire job description, it's always clear to me and shows in their resume. In a job description, there are words that are bolded but invisible. Your goal is to convey to the hiring manager how you meet the requirements for the job you are applying to. Check out my examples below on how I would write my resume if I applied to an HR Manager role. ( Job posting was selected at random)

Job Description: Support the development and maintenance of employee training, learning and development content, and certification and professional development activities

  • Leadership Development: Promotes a learning culture and develops leader plans organization-wide; develops quarterly leadership training workshops resulting in 100% of leaders feeling more equipped to carry out managerial and hr functions.

Job Description: Support the planning, development and facilitation or outsourcing of learning, training and development programs

  • External Facilitation: Research and source external facilitators to formulate coaching products for senior leadership to promote growth and support career development.

Job Description: Measure, monitor and report on the effectiveness of policies, programs and other HR initiatives to ensure they deliver value to the business and users

  • Diversity Equity & Inclusion: Utilize data to measure DEI initiatives such as culture, employee wellbeing and employee diversity resulting in decreased turnover and increased employee retention

Job Description: Develop and maintain effective relationships within DCC and with industry, the Client-Partners and/or stakeholders

  • Client Partners and Stakeholder Relations: Foster and maintain relationships with industry partners and discuss relevant industry trends and legislative changes

You need to be able to tailor the duties in your current job to that of the job you are applying for. Simply listing your responsibilities in your current role is not enough.


2. What are the non-negotiables?

The job posting is the employer's wishlist. It's broken down into the must-haves ( minimum requirements to be considered) and then the nice to have. My question to you is, do you meet the bare minimum requirements? If you meet the requirements, did you clearly state that in your resume/CV?

Job Description: Formal Education And/or Certification(s) And Experience

  • Minimum: university degree in human resources management or related field with five years relevant experience and Certified Human Resources Professional designation, or the equivalent

Now, I am all for a stretch goal. However, if you have 1 year of HR experience, I would not suggest applying to this role.

Don't have the degree, but you have 5 years of experience? Still apply, work experience usually supersedes educational background.


3. Quantify your achievements

I need to write an entire blog post on this. But here is the crash course.

Instead of saying: "Organized large events."

Try: "Organized yearly event hosting 200 delegates, generating $300,000 in revenue."

What else can you highlight?

  1. Did you save the company money?

  2. How did you improve a process?

  3. Has client spending increased year over year?

Did you find value in this post? Let me know in the comments.

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