By Amber Alarid, JVA Consulting
Question: How do you write a resume and cover letter that can easily and quickly be tailored to multiple jobs?
This is a great question for recent grads and people new to the sector who are hitting the pavement hard to find jobs. While tailoring your resume and cover letter to each job is not something you want to rush through, it is a great idea to have a game plan in mind that keeps you from becoming overwhelmed and spending hours rewriting materials.
Give copies of your resume and cover letter to trusted friends, colleagues or professionals in the nonprofit field. Ask them to critique the format, grammar and overall flow of your materials. If you have a lot of experience due to internships, previous jobs and so forth, it might be a good idea to give a longer copy of your resume and cover letter to your associates to critique. It is very likely that the order of things and even what jobs or responsibilities you list will be changed from application to application, so you may end up cutting information. Once you know that the structure is perfect, you have a sound foundation for your application.
Here is where your game plan comes in. Have copies of all the application documents (if there are any, some jobs only require a cover letter and resume in the initial phase) and job descriptions in front of you and study the qualifications and traits the employer is looking for. This is the information you will be adding to your existing framework of education and contact information. If it comes down to a question of length, it is best to sacrifice skills and experiences that are not relevant to the position you are applying for. This is why an article on Career Builder encourages you to keep a list of accomplishments on hand. If an employer expresses how important teamwork is in the job description, you should make sure that the responsibilities you list on your resume and any anecdotes you use in your cover letter illustrate your strong skills as a team player. If the job is working with a particular population, such as children, you should focus on how the skills you have acquired either directly relate to, or are transferable to, working with children.
It is understandable that this can be a daunting task to someone new to the field or new to the workforce, but it is essential to keep transferable skills in mind. Just because you haven’t had a particular job before doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t already posses some of the necessary skills. Look at a sample job description from a job or internship you have already had and examine the required skills for that position to see what skills you likely gained. Do you posses those? That is a rhetorical question, by the way! Hopefully after holding that position, you do. Those skills are the building blocks for your new job, which will probably require similar skills.
The more experience you gain crafting your resume and cover letter to each position, the easier it will come to you. For now, don’t skimp on time, but do develop your own strategy to make the process smoother.
Send your questions for Ask Amber to firstname.lastname@example.org.