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How to tailor your resume to each job

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all resume. Every job is unique, so every resume you send out should mirror the distinct needs that each position demands. If you’re experiencing a slowdown in the number of callbacks for interviews or not hearing back from potential employers at all, it might be because you’re sending out the same generic resume over and over again.

Believe me when I say that I understand how easy it is to avoid this suggestion, but there’s no avoiding the reality that the most effective way to capture a recruiter’s attention is to customize your resume each and every time you apply to a job.

However impressive you may be, if you don’t do the work of connecting the dots from your history to the exact job requirements, hiring managers will not do it for you. The good news is that customizing your resume is not as difficult as it sounds. If you take the extra time and follow these step by step instructions, the work is actually quite manageable.

Understand the Job Description

Remember that a job description is a hiring manager telling you exactly what they’re looking for in a candidate. Go over each line in the job posting and highlight the responsibilities, strengths, and skills mentioned. Make sure that you have a strong grasp of how to demonstrate that you have what it takes to meet these responsibilities.

A recruiter is going to place your resume side-by-side with the job description, and the more quickly they can draw a clear connection between a skill that you possess and a skill at the top of their list, the better.

Match Skills and Keywords

Once you have a clear grasp of what the job involves, match your resume experiences to look like what is in the job description as close to verbatim as possible. This way it’s immediately apparent why you’re the best candidate for the job. Pay attention to the language, themes, and patterns.

If the job description emphasizes detail-oriented abilities at the top of the requirement list, then make sure that in your first bullet point you describe the ways that you achieved accurate and precise results in previous roles. Highlight examples of duties that require meticulous attention to detail such as organizing and analyzing large data sets, conducting quality control tests/reviews, fact-checking, or measuring the impact of a project or campaign.

Match your previous job titles with the title of the job you are applying for. If you haven’t had that specific job in the past then explain why you want that title in the summary or objective section, and how you are a match for it.

Your next focus should be to draw attention to the hard or technical skills needed to get the job done. Hard skills are teachable and measurable abilities that you acquire through education or training, such as computer programming, project management, data analysis, foreign language ability, marketing, social media management, payroll, etc.

Even if your previous job titles are different from the position you want, if you possess the hard skills that your desired job requires, spell that out clearly. Your resume must be a roadmap directly linking your past qualifications to the exact qualifications in the job description.

Not only will matching keywords help you stand out to recruiters overwhelmed by large numbers of applications, but it will also help ensure that your resume is optimized to get past the technology recruiters use to filter resumes. Applicant Tracking Systems (or ATS) are widely used to sort and rank applicants. Your resume will be scored based on the words you use and whether they match up to the words the recruiters use.

Don’t let artificial intelligence outsmart you.

Put the Most Relevant Points at the Top of Your Resume

The most important skills that a recruiter will immediately look for in a resume are the qualifications that they put at the beginning of the job description. As a guiding principle, the words at the top of the qualification list are the most significant words to stress in your experience. Reorder sections of your resume if necessary. Even if the most relevant title you had is not your most recent job, call attention to that experience first.

Next you need to go through the rest of your bullet points and delete any redundancies or unrelated abilities. If you’re unsure of what is irrelevant or unrelated, ask yourself if the skill or qualification will make obvious sense to include in the eyes of a hiring manager. If it doesn’t align or distracts from what’s wanted in the job posting, then it probably shouldn’t be in your resume.

Highlight Results and Achievements

Show results you’ve achieved within the bullet points to showcase how you can make an impact. For instance, if the company wants their future employee to possess strong verbal and interpersonal communication skills, it’s not enough to write “excellent communication skills” in your career summary. You need to put the skill in detailed context.

This means that you need to show, not just tell them that you have the capabilities by including specific facts, stories, and figures. Dollar amounts, percentages, numbers of people, and other metrics are always useful to include.

Descriptive Examples of Communication Skill:

“Wrote and submitted dozens of grant proposals for refugee resettlement focused nonprofit organizations garnering over $700,000 in funding”

“Over five years of experience training and mentoring 30+ associate level marketing researchers– half of whom were promoted to managerial roles”

“Scheduled appointments, answered the phone, greeted patients, and addressed client complaints for a dental office with over 500 patients”

“Secured 4 clients with accounts valued between $2-5 million”

“Oversaw the social media strategy for three health and wellness products across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram achieving a 25% increase in followers over the course of six months”


Once you’ve tailored your resume to match the skills you have to the exact skills your future employer wants, the last step is to get another set of eyes to read your resume alongside the job description to compare. Ask a relative, friend, or mentor if they can clearly see the connections, and if you’ve done a good job proving you are a good fit for the job. Make adjustments accordingly.

Taking the extra time is worth the time, and if you take these actions, you will see an acceleration in the number of callbacks from hiring managers.

Need resume help to get hired? Book a free consultation with us to see how we can help speed up your job search.

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