Job Search Checklist #5: A Response Resume

Aug 14 2012 in Featured, reCareered Blog, Resumes by Phil Rosenberg

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Last week we defined a fishing resume – This week let’s work on response resumes.

While a fishing resume is a static resume that remains the same no matter the audience, a response resume is customized to the specific audience – something you might use responding to a job opportunity.

Because they are customized for an individual reader’s needs, response resumes can be extremely effective for your job search … much more effective than a fishing resume.

Response resumes assume that each individual hiring manager and each organization has different and unique needs. Even two companies, hiring individuals with equivalent titles has unique needs.

Unfortunately, you can’t always use a response resume, because they require knowledge of the employer. So if you don’t know who the employer is (blind ads or sending to a recruiter), you can’t know the reader’s specific needs – makes it kind of tough to customize, wouldn’t it?

A good response resume demonstrates WIFT (What’s In it For Them), as opposed to a fishing resume, that uses WIFM (What’s In it For Me) – if you haven’t done your research, it’s impossible to know WIFT.

5 Things You Need To Create A Great Response Resume:

  1. Superior information: To create a response resume, the first thing you need is superior information. Most candidates use inferior information from the job description, company website, company financials and Google. None of these sources provide superior information and all provide obsolete information (yes, even the job description). Superior information comes from inside the company, from sources close to the hiring manager.
  2. Problems: Until you know what problems your hiring manager is trying to solve, you won’t know what they are really after. Requirements in a job descriptions are only a proxy for hiring managers to describe the problems they are trying to solve – because few hiring managers want to publicly disclose their dirty laundry in an ad, out in the open where competitors and customers can see.
  3. Priorities: Not all problems carry equal priority. Focusing on problems that are a low priority make you a low priority candidate. Instead, by when you understand and can address your target hiring manager’s priorities, you can focus on their hot buttons, demonstrating how you’ve already solved similar problems as priority issues.
  4. Employer Value Statements: Before a hiring manager sees your resume, you’ve been pre-screened 2-5 times (or more), for basic skills – so the hiring manager knows that the resumes sent to them all fulfill basic requirements. Also, since there are job shortages rather than skills shortages, the hiring manager doesn’t need to search your resume for minimum skills.
  5. The hiring manager is looking for more than basic skills – they’re focused on finding the best candidate of the qualified group sent for their review. Hiring managers are really looking for candidates who solved the problems they face today, even more if those solutions were really important to their companies … because these solutions provided significant value. If you were the hiring manager, what would impress you more: a candidate who saved their past employer $2 or $2 billion?

  6. Key Words: You may find a few of the search criteria in the job description, but finding a few won’t be enough to get you an interview. Since HR reps and recruiters typically search for 7-10 keywords and only read a small percentage of resumes sent, you’ll need to include all or almost all of the keywords on your resume. You’ll find likely keywords and phrases by talking to sources inside the company, listening to not just what they say, but also how they say it. Since most job descriptions were written many months (or years) ago even for new positions, they won’t stay up-to-date with current needs – because needs change.

The biggest problem holding most of you back, is that you haven’t modernized your job search. Sure, you’re using job boards and social media, but you haven’t changed your tactics to match how employers make interview and hiring decisions.

One of the first things to change in your job search is to adopt response resumes, using them to apply when the employer is identified.

The reason many candidates resist using response resumes is it takes more time per resume and you won’t be able to send as many resumes as you’re used to. But it’s worth the additional time – the more you customize, the better the odds that you’ll land an interview.

Or would you rather send the same resume to each opportunity, crossing your fingers and praying that the words on your resume just happens to exactly match all the criteria an employer is searching for?


Want to do more than just complain about a bad economy?

To attend our next complimentary live webinar featuring action items to double your resume response rate and number of interviews, plus live career Q&A with Phil Rosenberg of reCareered, register at .

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Phil shows you why your current job search strategies work against you and how to replace them with strategies that improve your odds. Phil provides you with research - cold, hard statistics provided by job boards and hiring managers themselves, to show you what works for you and against you in the worst job market in our lifetimes.

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Author: Phil Rosenberg

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