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Levett Career Center

Writing a Tailored Résumé

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Tailoring your Résumé Using O*Net

The most common error I see in giving résumé critiques is what I call the "Reverse Chronological Autobiography" approach.  If this is your strategy, your résumé looks like you have listed everything you have ever done in the hopes that potential employers might find something that matches what they are seeking. This means that they have to do all the work to find value in your background, sorting things that aren't relevant from those that are. It will be difficult for them to see what your career goal is, because your résumé doesn't align in any particular direction.

If you take the opposite approach of researching the specific skills an employer is seeking, combing through your background for evidence that you can do those tasks, and focusing on those on your résumé, then you do all the work to show what your transferable skills are, and your suitedness to the job becomes immediately evident to the recruiter. Here's a great way to do this:

  • Go to O*Net;
  • Search for the job you're targeting and select the best match from the list it provides;
  • When you click on a job, the whole page will have useful information, but be sure to pay special attention to the "Job Tasks" section: it will give you vocabulary that is very helpful in writing your résumé; 
  • To get even more insight into the specific tasks a job requires, click on the "Details" tab at the top of the page.  However, please note: If you want to print the detailed report, be sure to choose "Save Table XLS"  for the section you want to print (unless you want to print a complete 15-16 page detailed report).
  • Item by item, ask yourself how you can provide evidence that you can do each task. List those examples as your bullets for each relevant role you have had.
  • (See pp. 2-3 of my Résumé Guide for an example of this in action.)