The audience or audiences for the resume mostly likely include the employer, but this is not quite specific enough for most resume projects. It can only help the document if the writer does a little homework: Who is most likely to read the resume? A store manager, a human resources executive, a head hunter, a hiring committee? Is the document likely to go through a hierarchy of readers, say from a floor manager to a general manager to a company owner? Perhaps from a hiring committee to a committee head?
Many experts warn that employers give each resume about 15 seconds to determine if an applicant is right for a job. As much as possible, a resume writer should try to tailor her document to each specific position, rather than writing one general document that is sent to several different employers. This is important because different positions may require that the resume writer highlight different skills and abilities.
Read Between the Lines
For example a job advertisement for a manager at software store may state that a candidate must have a college degree and customer service experience. An applicant with a degree in business management may not be as qualified as say, someone with a degree in Anthropology, depending work history, experience, and special talents. Let's say both candidates have relatively equal amounts of customer service experience. The applicant with a business degree may not have much experience with computers or software. The applicant with the anthropology degree may have made computers her hobby. A retail management job probably also requires good organizational skills, a thorough understanding of the products sold, and leadership abilities.
In this instance, the Business major may highlight his or her management experience and training while simply omitting or downplaying her lack of experience with software. On the other hand, the Anthropology major may highlight his knowledge of computers and software while downplaying his lack of business training.
Read between the lines with considering job advertisements to determine what skills are most important to an individual employer, then spend time tailoring your resume to match those skills. Use this information to determine the vocabulary used in the document, which skills to highlight in the document, and how to structure the document.
Tips for Researching Resume Audiences
- Do an Internet search to find out information on the company culture. Company rules, such as dress codes, openness to flex-time, benefits and other information can indicate whether the resume should be highly traditional or if the document can be creative.
- Read the company's press releases, reviews of their products or services, and any other topical information to determine how the company officially presents itself.
- Talk to current or former employees.
- Talk to a counselor at a campus job center. Often counselors are familiar with company representatives who may have visited campus. Ask for the counselor's impressions and find out what worked for other applicants, if possible.
- Rely on knowledge of the field. Applicants interested in specific fields, such as business management, engineering, or social work should rely on what they know about the field already to determine the document's vocabulary, style and organization.
The resume is a kind of advertisement for an applicant's future abilities based on past experience. Advertising writers spend thousands of hours and dollars determining how best to present their information to a specific audience in order to sell a product. The desired outcome of any advertisement is to get the viewer/reader to go out and take a risk by spending money on something. The desired outcome of a resume is to convince an employer to take a risk and grant an interview. Don't forget, employers often have many more applicants than positions available. Those who make their own document stand out by determining why it needs to be written and tailoring it to the needs and priorities of the people reading it are more likely to receive an interview.
Also like an advertisement, a resume offers the writer a finite amount of space to accomplish its goal. Most resumes are no longer than a page to a page and half. In such a small space, language and form are amplified, making them the two most important tools for appealing to its audience.
It pays to spend time considering the layout and design of the resume as well, to insure its readability.