Are you taking the time to customize your resume for each job for which you apply? The need to optimize your resume to target the specific job you are seeking is a necessary part of the modern job search. If you are skipping this step to save yourself time, you may be achieving just the opposite of that objective. You may be spending your time sending out resumes that will never be seen.

The use of applicant tracking systems (ATS) by many employers means that your resume needs to be optimized to include the specific keywords (skills) related to the job you are seeking. Human resume reviewers will be looking for specific words related to their job post, too. Your foundational resume may include most of what is needed to convey your skills and qualifications, but adding a few special touches can make a big difference in your resume’s visibility.

On the other hand, our time is limited. Investing huge amounts of time crafting a new resume for each potential job may not be the best strategy for your job search.

So how can you ensure that your resume is effectively optimized while still making efficient use of your time? With some advance preparation and the use of a tool to optimize your resume efficiently, you can streamline your job application process.

You may be spending your time sending out resumes that will never be seen if you don't optimize them.

Here are 5 steps that will get you on your way to succeeding with your job applications:

Step 1: Develop your core career documents prior to starting the whole optimization process

If you want to be able to move quickly when a new job catches your attention, you’ll need to set up your documentation in advance -- don't wait till you find the job you want to start getting your head around resume optimization. Your core documents should include a professional data repository containing your basic information as well as a selection of skills, summary statements, and resume bullet points highlighting your accomplishments and achievements. In addition, you’ll create a foundational resume that will serve as the master template for which you can optimize for each and every job application going forward.

Step 2: Create your professional data repository

Making sure that you have all the information you need close at hand before you begin applying for jobs will save time and help you to avoid mistakes. To create your repository, record all of your work experience, education, contact information, and other details into a digital record. Consolidate this information in a document or spreadsheet, choosing the format that works best for you. As you record your information, check and double-check each detail. You’ll use this same data to help you customize your resume many times, so apply a ‘measure twice, cut once’ philosophy to this step.

Step 3: Give yourself some options to optimize

While historic information about you, such as the educational degrees you’ve obtained and your past job titles won’t change, the other information you choose to share on your resume can be optimized. Your resume’s summary and skills sections can both be customized to highlight different strengths. In addition, when targeting a specific job, you may choose to optimize and alter the bulleted accomplishments listed in your work experience section.

Tailoring the accomplishments that you share in order to suit the culture and needs of the prospective employer you are pursuing allows you to make the best use of your resume’s limited space. So, use your data repository to give yourself some pre-planned options. Instead of creating just two to five bullet points for each of your past jobs, create a full collection.

For each past job, write out as many statements as possible. Craft statements that showcase all of your qualitative and quantitative results. If you are using a table or spreadsheet to collect your statements, add columns that allow you to categorize and sort the statements by skill or type.

Similarly, craft three or four summary statements that highlight your strengths. You can also create summary statements to target different job types. And, create a comprehensive list of all of your skills--hard and soft.

Completing each of these steps in advance, and carefully proofreading your work, will allow you to rapidly optimize your resume later.

Customize your resume for each job application to make it effective

Step 4: Establish a foundational resume from which to start every optimization

If you are targeting similar roles at different organizations in your job search, you probably won’t need to create a completely new resume for each application. Instead, you’ll be tweaking and optimizing your resume to suit the specifics of the job you’re seeking. Creating a base or foundational resume will speed your process to customize your resume considerably.

Your foundational resume will include all the essential elements (https://carmen.co/careeradvice/resume-sections/) of a good resume and use the pre-checked data that you’ve collected in your data repository.

Again, proofreading is important. You’ll rely on this resume as your starting point each time you prepare a job application, so make sure every detail is correct. And, because you don’t want to accidentally undo all your hard work, create a backup copy of this resume and store it in a separate file for safekeeping.

Step 5: Assemble and customize your power resume

Once you have your core documentation gathered and ready to go, you’ll be well positioned to efficiently optimize your resume and respond quickly to each new job post. When you have selected a job to which you want to apply, read the job post carefully and make note of the skills and qualifications it references. Also, research the posting company to get a feel for its culture and values.

Then, select the summary, skills, and accomplishments from your prepared collection that you think will be the best match. After you’ve made your adjustments to your resume, use Carmen's Resume Customization app to score your resume and quickly figure out how you’ve done.

The free Carmen tool that will help you customize your resume efficiently will compare the language of your resume to the text of the job you are targeting, as well as similar jobs, to see if you have hit the mark. You’ll also receive a list of optimization recommendations for improving your resume to better match your target. The resume checker is free, so you can continue optimizing your resume until you are fully satisfied with the resume score.

With your preparation and Carmen’s Resume Customization tool, you’ll be on track to win the job you want without wasting time. Learn how to use Carmen's Resume Customization tool by going to https://carmen.co/careeradvice/resume-customization-video-tutorial/.