Ever wonder if there’s a great shortcut to resume writing – you know, one that others don’t think to use but is very simple? Well, there is, and it will surprise you.

Just look around at job postings. That’s all there is to it, and it will help you avoid one of the biggest job search mistakes by tailoring your resume to what employers are seeking.

Companies post job ads all the time that are a gold mine for resume information—but only if you know how to use them correctly.

Here are 3 tips for mining job ads for better resume results:

1 – Get an idea of the title you’ll be applying for.

While this may sound odd, your first step is to figure out what employers call the job that you’re seeking. This is especially true for anyone whose previous employer gave them an unusual job title.

For example, you may have great analysis skills and a thorough knowledge of IT systems, combined with experience in HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley.

Adding all of these skills to a job aggregator board like indeed.com will yield titles like IT Compliance Manager, Information Technology Auditor, or Technical Compliance Analyst.

Now, use this title as the heading of your resume so that employers can link your competencies to their needs.

It sounds simple, but you need to speak THEIR language in order to get your foot in the door. (and you’d be shocked at how many resumes cross my desk that skipped this crucial step!)

2 – Use keywords from the job description.

Next, review the list of required skills in each job ad (not just one – you’ll want a good cross-section).

Most sales job descriptions will contain terms such as account management, cold calling, and business development, while operations positions will refer to productivity, manufacturing metrics, and workflow analysis.

This is important: even if you believe that employers should be able to see your abilities without keywords, add them to your resume anyway.

Your goal is to ensure that the resume can pass the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) scans used by many companies, in addition to catching the eye of a hiring manager.

3 – Find out what skills to exclude.

This requires a little more thought and analysis on your part, but it’s just as important! Your resume must match enough of the requirements for a job ad to be considered, since employers often eliminate candidates if they possess too many skills that fall OUTSIDE of company needs.

Therefore, you’ll need to skip outdated skills that don’t add weight to the resume. A software developer, for example, might take off non-technical competencies like Microsoft Word or Excel, since these applications are presumed knowledge for their career level.

Additionally, a Vice President of Sales would not need terms like prospecting or referral generation, since these capabilities are often proven earlier in their career path.

Don’t forget to take off professional training or association memberships unrelated to the job you seek. These only clutter your message and take up valuable space that you can use for more relevant information.

If you’ve worked at an unrelated type of job, be sure to remove emphasis on the skills that you used in it. Otherwise you run the risk of being “locked in” to this type of position in the future.

Try using job ads as a guide if you’ve strugged with writing your own resume. Detailed job descriptions can give you the inside edge, helping you decide what should stay and what should be cut to make the best impression.

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