How To Tailor a Resume To a Job

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated March 15, 2022 | Published October 9, 2020

Updated March 15, 2022

Published October 9, 2020

Related: Resume Tips: Avoid These 8 Mistakes

In this video, Holl shares the 8 most common resume mistakes and provides tips and strategies on how to write a winning resume.

Hiring managers often receive several resumes and can only spend only a short amount of time scanning for the right candidate. By customizing your resume for each job you apply for, you prioritize the most applicable information helping your application stand out. 

In this article, we discuss why it's important to tailor your resume for each job application and provide the steps to help you customize your own.

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Why it's important to tailor a resume to a job

Tailoring your resume for the job you're applying for is important because it highlights to the hiring manager that you have the skills, experience and qualifications that fit the position’s requirements. By tailoring your resume, you emphasize to the employer how your experiences and qualifications align with those described in the job listing.

Related: How To List Your Skills on a Resume (With Template and Examples)

How to tailor a resume to a job

Here are 10 steps you can take to tailor your resume to a job to improve your chances of getting an interview:

1. Identify keywords

Start by identifying the main keywords in the job listing. Read through the job description and take note of the major keywords and phrases included within the job listing.

2. Make note of what's most important

To identify the employer's priorities for the position, review the listed responsibilities and how they are prioritized. Also, pay particular attention to any themes that are repeated throughout the job listing, such as multitasking, leadership or organization.

3. List all relevant experiences

Next, make a list of your relevant experience and skills, according to the prioritized requirements from the job description. Pay attention to the order that you're listing your experiences. For example, if the employer put leadership at the top of the job description and you have leadership experience, put it at the top of your list of bullets.

Related: Here's Everything You Should Include on a Resume

4. Minimize or eliminate older jobs

Remember that the primary objective of your resume is to highlight your accomplishments and show you're the best applicant for a specific position. To do this, c minimize or even remove older, less relevant jobs. For your more recent positions, evaluate your list of bullets and remove any that aren't directly relevant to the position. Your resume should be clear and concise, which means removing any information that isn’t relevant to the position.

5. Update the summary statement

If you have a summary statement on your resume, update it so that it highlights the skills and experiences the employer is looking for in a candidate. For example, if the job description states that they want a “candidate who can work independently and is a self-starter,” then your resume should include a statement like, "Self-motivated professional who is willing to take on both large and small projects."

6. Update the skills section

Once you've finished updating your work history and summary section, update the skills portion of your resume. Begin with the list of skills that the employer prioritized. Next, add additional skills that you believe are relevant to the role, especially those that could help you stand out from other candidates.

Sometimes, employers include a list of preferred qualifications in the job description. If applicable, add those to your own skills section.

7. Quantify your accomplishments

In scanning your resume, look for ways you can quantify your accomplishments. Start by evaluating each bullet point under your work history and determine whether you can add numbers to emphasize the impact you had within your role. 

For example, rather than saying you “exceeded your sales quota each month,” you could say that you “exceeded your sales quota by 30% month-over-month.” 

Read more: How To Write Accomplishment Statements for Your Resume

8. Optimize for keywords

Refer back to the list of keywords the employer included and evaluate whether you can naturally add them to your resume. This is an especially important step if the company you're applying with is using an applicant tracking system (ATS), which automatically searches for specific keywords and determines if your resume if relevant. Use the same expressions that the employer used in the job description. 

9. Consider your resume’s format

Consider if you’re using the right resume format for your qualifications and whether it's appropriate for the position for which you're applying. For example, if you're applying for a position within a large corporation, a resume that's clean, simple and has lots of white space is the most appropriate option. If you're applying for a more creative position, then adding creative elements like color and icons can be appropriate. 

10. Ask for feedback

Consider asking a friend and family member to review your resume, along with the job description, and asking them for honest feedback. The most ideal person for this task is someone who works in the industry you're applying to. They can help point out unnecessary information or add skills that you may not have considered.

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