How To "Rapid Response" Your Resume

by: Joanne Meehl

You're thinking, "What a pain: these days, I have to tailor each resume so that it closely fits each position I apply for. Who has the time?"

Yet there are so many resumes going out for each position, that it is imperative that you send yours quickly, before the overwhelmed HR department or hiring manager cuts off the number of resumes sooner than anyone expects.

How can you get snappier at responding, so that it doesn't become agony to send out your resume each time? A few years ago, the member of a networking group I facilitated said it took him hours and hours to tailor each resume. I was shocked, and asked him what he was doing. "I completely start from scratch each time", he answered. "It's supposed to be custom, right?" No wonder it took so long! And no wonder each opportunity, even those he learned of through her network, gave him indigestion instead of joy.

Rather than that tedious approach, I coach my clients to use about 95% of the master resume they have developed in working with me. BUT, they can quickly change about 5% of that resume for each opportunity because I suggest they create "word wells" they can dip into. These wells -- simply a text or Word document -- hold the right words and phrases for positions they apply for or want created for them.

How does one do this?

The first step -- and you cannot leave this out -- is to take the time to think about the shades of differences between and among positions that interest you. For example, Jill in sales might love -- and be qualified for -- new business sales, technical sales, or major account sales. But each is different enough from the other to mean some significant changes in language between each resume she sends out. So Jill created lists of key words and phrases that are tightly relevant for each of these kinds of positions, labeling each group so that it's readily available for her. She also wrote down in those groups their relevant success stories, metrics, awards, and so forth. She updates each well as she networks and hears the latest about sales in her three target areas. Now, Jill has no way of knowing exactly which openings will occur or when. But she's ready, because she's done her homework.

When something does come open, she can replace phrases in her master resume with relevant words, phrases, achievements, metrics, sample successes, and other information that fits the open position. And she can do it in minutes because it's all right there and she does not have to rack her brain while under pressure.

So what positions in your field can you fill? Be ready with your "rapid response" the next time something presents itself to you. It's worth the time -- after all, it's for YOU.


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