Tailoring your resume

How to make sure your resume matches the job you're applying to.

Published July 19, 2023

When it comes to job hunting, your resume serves as your first impression to potential employers. A well-tailored resume can make a significant difference in grabbing the attention of hiring managers and landing your dream job. A tailored resume is customized to highlight your most relevant skills, experiences, and accomplishments for a specific job opportunity. By following some essential guidelines and strategies, you can create a compelling resume that stands out from the competition.

Understand the job description

Before you start crafting your tailored resume, thoroughly analyze the job description of the position you're applying for. Look for specific keywords, skills, and qualifications that the employer is seeking. Understanding the company's needs will help you align your resume with their requirements, increasing the chances of catching their eye.

Choose the right format

Selecting the appropriate resume format is essential to present your information effectively. The three most common formats are:

  • Chronological: Organizes your work history in reverse chronological order, ideal if your job history is strong and relevant to the position.
  • Functional: Focuses on your skills and achievements rather than your work history, suitable for career changers or those with employment gaps.
  • Combination: Combines elements of both chronological and functional formats, providing a balance between work history and skills.

Select the format that best highlights your strengths and fits the job you're applying for.

Tailor your professional summary

The professional summary is the first thing recruiters see, so make it count. Tailor this section to demonstrate how your skills and experience align with the job requirements. Craft a brief but impactful statement that clearly showcases your value proposition and what you can bring to the organization.

Highlight relevant experience

When listing your work experience, focus on roles and accomplishments that are most relevant to the position you're seeking. Emphasize your achievements and quantify them with specific results or numbers, demonstrating your impact on previous employers. Use bullet points to make this section easy to read and scan quickly.

Showcase relevant skills

Incorporate key skills from the job description into your resume. Include both hard and soft skills that are essential for the position. Hard skills are specific, measurable abilities (e.g., coding languages, project management), while soft skills are more interpersonal (e.g., communication, leadership). When possible, provide examples of how you've applied these skills in your previous roles.

Customize your education section

In most cases, your education section won't require significant changes, but if you have relevant coursework or certifications, consider adding them to showcase your expertise. Additionally, if you're a recent graduate, emphasize relevant projects and extracurricular activities that demonstrate your skills.

Tailor your achievements

A separate section for achievements allows you to highlight outstanding accomplishments that are particularly relevant to the job you're applying for. This can include awards, honors, accolades, and notable contributions to projects or teams.

Use keywords strategically

Many companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to scan and filter resumes. To ensure your resume makes it through ATS, incorporate relevant keywords from the job description. However, avoid keyword stuffing, as it can make your resume appear inauthentic.

Customize the cover letter

Crafting a tailored resume takes time and effort, but it's a crucial step towards landing your desired job. By aligning your skills, experience, and accomplishments with the employer's needs, you demonstrate your value and stand out from other applicants. Remember to regularly update and customize your resume for each application, as tailoring it to specific job opportunities greatly increases your chances of success.