Tailor Your Resume the Visual Way (Using Wordle)Posted: May 15, 2012
Tailoring your resume for every job application takes forever. And it is completely necessary. Sometimes just getting started is the hardest part. I know this from personal experience.
I recently posted about using Wordle to quick-check my resume’s message. While applying for an interesting position a few days ago, an idea came to me. Why not use Wordle to compare and contrast the job description to my resume? Being a visual person, I found this simple exercise to be super-helpful.
Here’s how I did it:
- Copy and paste the the description of the job opening into the Wordle “create” page.
- Look at the result and visually assess which words are used most frequently. These should be considered the keywords for the position. The beauty of Wordle “word clouds” is that they display common words more prominently; the more frequent the word, the larger-sized it appears within the cloud. The image above is an actual job description that I Wordled. “Technology,” “project/projects,” “management,” “business” and “initiatives’ are the obvious keywords here. I also noted “customers” and “process” as well; more on that later.
- Repeat steps #1 and #2 above using the content in your resume. I’d recommend leaving out your name and contact information, as well as the name of the company for each job. In this exercise, the job descriptions are most important. My resume‘s word cloud, before tailoring, is below. “Development,” “project/projects,” “managed/management/manager,” “business,” “applications,” “team/teams” and “requirements” are the keywords that jumped out at me.
- Compare the 2 word clouds that you have generated. How do they match up?Are the most prominent keywords from the job description also emphasized in your resume? If not, then it is time to customize! The beauty of the Wordle-based comparison is that the customizations that need to be done are much more obvious. If your experience aligns pretty well with the job description, this part is made much simpler with the visual cues from the word clouds. It’s really a matter of adding additional keyword emphasis to your resume based upon the keywords discovered in step 1 and possibly de-emphasizing some keywords in your resume that don’t match those from the job description.Let’s see how this plays out in my (real) example. On the plus side, “project/projects” and “managed/management/manager” (when summed up) are balanced with the job description. “Business” and “technology” need more emphasis. I also noted that my resume uses the term “clients” exclusively but the job description uses the term “customers.” Thought those terms are often considered interchangeable, a mismatch there might be problematic. Finally, the term “development” is very prominent in my resume and non-existent in the job description.
- Armed with that information, I edited my resume wording to emphasize “business” and “technology” more. I changed “clients” “to “customers” and I found ways to describe my experience using “development” less. The result of this effort is displayed below. To me, this customization was satisfying. Without going too far overboard, I think that my resume was customized enough to more closely match the job description.
In the end, the amount of customization that one could do for any particular job is endless; my personal philosophy is not to get too caught up in the very fine details but rather, to match up the frequent words that seem to most reflect the essence of the job description. This process is much more of an art than a science but using Wordle for a visual comparison absolutely helped to make this process easier for me.
Give this a try in your job search! Did it help? I’d love to read your thoughts and suggestions below.