It’s been said over and over that you should tailor your resume to the target job you’re applying to. This can seem like a tedious and onerous task, considering you probably have other things you want to do with your time instead of writing and re-writing your resume over and over for different positions. But there’s really no way around this idea—no hiring manager is going to be wowed over a generic-looking resume that could be for any job in the field.
Fortunately, you don’t have to spend hours writing new resumes for every position you’re applying to. Here are a few ways to tailor your resume for each position without wasting your time.
Start Generic, Then Tailor
Almost every resume has some generic parts to it. For example, your resume—along with 99 percent of other resumes—is going to have your name in large font at the top. Then you’re going to have contact information in smaller font below it. If you like the way your header looks, keep it like that. As long as your contact information can easily be found and isn’t disruptive, it’s perfectly acceptable that’s it’s generic.
The same for section headings: the sections should remain roughly the same. You’re going to have an education, experience, skills, and most likely, a miscellaneous or “other” section as a catch-all for interesting things that are relevant but don’t fit in any other section.
Write Section Headings First
Even though the headings will remain roughly the same, when starting out your general resume, you should write section headings first. Decide whether you want your education or experience to come first, and format those before doing any tailoring. Of course, remember that some positions focus more on education than experience and vice versa, so you may switch these sections around depending on what kind of position you’re looking for.
Generally, your contact info should go somewhere at the top, and skills or miscellaneous should go at the bottom. This is a basic format you can use for most or all positions, so creating a template with these headings can save you some time.
Focus on Keywords
When you get down to tailoring your resume, pepper it with the industry keywords you find in the job description. Obviously, these need to flow seamlessly throughout your resume—don’t just stick them in anywhere. This is where you’ll be spending most of your resume-writing time once you’ve created a time-saving template. There’s not a lot you can do to get out of this kind of tailoring, although you can use similar job descriptions for similar positions to save time.
Once you’ve determined where your sections go on the page, you can use a particular format, such as “Name of Company—Position—Time at Position” as a static format so you don’t have to change these parts of your resume with each rewrite. The major portions of your resume don’t always have to change, only the details and keywords of each version of your resume. These templates can save you time and frustration when applying to multiple jobs.
It’s important that you pay attention to the job description for each position you’re applying to. Hiring managers want to know that you read and understand what will be expected of you—but they hate candidates who waste their time by clicking and applying randomly. If you tailor your resume to the job, you’ll prove that you actually care and land more interviews.
However, you don’t need to write a fresh resume for each job you want to apply to; having templates and some static information can save you a lot of time. It’s also a good idea to have a generic resume ready if you attend job or career fairs so that you don’t exclude any potential positions. You can find more help using LiveCareer’s Resume Builder to polish and perfect your resume.