To set yourself up for success in your job search, you will need to make minor adjustments to tailor your resume to each specific job you are targeting.
Start by copying the resume you received and renaming it like this:
Your resume already has keywords and phrases for the career target you identified so that Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) will find a strong match between your resume and the posting. However, it will be your job to check each job description before applying. See if you need to add or replace any of the words in your resume that might be used differently by this company or for this specific opportunity’s unique requirements.
For example, some companies use “sales” and “marketing” as distinct roles, and others use them interchangeably. If you are applying for a sales role, and your resume utilizes the word sales, check the job description to make sure your target company also uses the word sales. If they don’t, change some of the references to sales in your resume to match the company’s terms.
If you are spending more than half an hour customizing a resume, you may need to reconsider the jobs you are applying for to ensure they align with your original target.
Here are common customizations that may be necessary:
In an age of cybersecurity, it is standard to omit the street address on a resume. Still, the City, State, and ZIP code or the geographical area, such as “New York Metropolitan area,” are essential, particularly if you are searching locally since companies strongly prefer local candidates. If you are willing (or hoping) to relocate, you may omit any indication of your geographic location.
Start with the headline (the job title at the top of the resume, such as Sales Director, Corporate Finance Officer, or Customer Service Representative). Copy the job title from the job description here.
You may have a section on your resume that lists your primary skill set related to the identified career target. You can and should modify this section each time you send the resume out to a specific opportunity. Skim the job ad for the particular skills required and highlight any of them that match your background. For example, if the job description says that the successful candidate will “build trust-based relationships with key customers,” the skill to include is “Relationship Building” or “Customer Relationship Management.”
To tailor the experience section, change only enough information to shift the focus or emphasis to match the targeted position’s core requirements.
Staying with our sales/marketing example, let’s say you have held several types of sales positions, and you are applying for a membership sales job. Your membership sales experience is three years ago, the
second job on your resume. To highlight this experience, bring the membership sales bullet(s) in this position to the top of the list and mention this specific experience in the skills list.
Your achievement bullet points may have been organized into themes with keywords in bold. If your resume has been structured in this way, you can adjust these bolded keywords to match the targeted opportunity better. For example, perhaps one of your achievement bullet points has the keyword Stakeholder Management in front of it. The achievement points to how you have generated alignment across the organization. However, imagine that the specific job opportunity requires collaboration across functions. You will simply substitute Stakeholder Management for Cross-Functional Collaboration to better match the opportunity.
Sometimes tailoring the experience section may involve tweaking an older position that doesn’t apply to the new opportunity. The key is to highlight experience relevant to the target role.
Eliminate certifications or professional development courses that are not relevant to this specific job.
After making changes to your resume, be sure that you haven’t accidentally changed the format.
Double-check that there are no added spaces between paragraphs, sections, words, and sentences.
Make sure you haven’t accidentally used a different font, color, or size of the font.
Ensure you haven’t created any errors with spelling, punctuation, or layout.
If you have questions about tailoring your resume, please contact your resume writer.
Clair Levy from Precision Resume Solutions has helped executives and other job seekers make successful career transitions for more than a decade. As a Certified Resume Writer, Clair composes compelling, customized, targeted resumes, cover letters, and other job search materials. If you know what job you’re looking for, Clair can help you land it. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.