Fashion experts often advise that any outfit will look much better if you have it tailored – and that advice holds true for resumes as well.
When you build a resume, know that a tailored one is going to be one that “fits” the needs of a particular employer. Tailoring your resume makes you look much more desirable as a job candidate. Also: tailoring a resume to each and every job you apply to is an absolute must. Unsure of how to tailor a resume for a specific job? Look at the specific requirements of the job ad and try to address those points directly. Also—mimic the language used in the job ad when writing your resume. Continue reading for additional must-know info on this topic.
When considering how to tailor a resume for a specific job, toss out the rehash of job duties and responsibilities that might be profiled in your existing resume. Try to think in more detail. For example, if you worked in human resources, did you work on specific software? Did you work with various departments to plot their hiring strategy, and then craft job descriptions? Listing nothing but your duties and responsibilities does nothing for your resume, nor does it do anything for the recruiter or hiring manager who will read it (besides bore them). You must prove that you delivered results in previous or current roles (more on this soon).
Before we go much further, know this — you likely won’t have to write a new resume from scratch for each employer. A lot of your resume will remain the same — most likely, your resume heading (which contains your contact information); your education section; and past employers and dates worked for past employers.
The key to how to tailor a resume for a specific job is starting with a solid, well-written, accomplishments-driven resume. From there, all you’ll be doing is moving things around, tweaking words and phrases, and adding a focus and dimension to your resume that will make both hiring managers and an ATS (applicant tracking system) take notice.
The end-result of this process should be a resume that illustrates your accomplishments in terms that the employer understands, showing how your achievements and qualifications match directly to the requirements and job description. These same accomplishments and qualifications should also show how you helped past or current employers succeed. Wherever and whenever possible, quantify your accomplishments. Numbers and percentages in resume accomplishments really drive home the value you have brought to a past or current job.
Let’s look at some other tips on how to tailor a resume for a specific job:
Look for common ground
Search job sites such as Google, Indeed, and LinkedIn for about five relevant job listings. Look at the common qualifications, such as experience in writing white papers or managing remote teams (these are just examples). Now, start to modify your resume with this information, inserting the keywords used in the job ads, or using certain industry jargon or buzzwords (or preferably, a mixture of both approaches).
Also, pay attention to the key qualifications that you’re missing — you may need to gain those additional skills through schooling or experience. (Never lie if you don’t have the qualification — the Internet makes is very easy for employers to check out your employment story).
Don’t forget soft skills
Job descriptions may also mention non-technical abilities such as having strong communication skills. “So, while your tutoring experience might not be directly related to the sales position you’re interested in, you can definitely still highlight some of the soft skills that both positions require,” writes Lily Zhang, a career development specialist at MIT.
According to LiveCareer’s 2018 Skills Gap Report, the top five in-demand soft skills are customer service skills; communication skills; scheduling; written communication; and organizational skills (learn about 15 more in-demand soft skill by clicking the report link above).
Use the right language in your resume
Now it’s time to highlight your key accomplishments, the ones that line up with the requirements listed in the job description. One way to do that is by using the wording the employer uses to describe the ideal candidate when describing your own accomplishments. You must use the same language the job ad uses when customizing your accomplishments — doing so will better your resume’s chances of getting past the ATS.
Another neat trick in how to tailor a resume for a specific job is to use the job title (and number/ID) in the headline of your resume. Save your resume with the employer’s name in the file name, such as JaneJobSeekerResume-Apple. Also, make sure that you use the same job title as the employer, advises Susan Joyce, a job search expert. “If the employer has used a standard job title, the one already on your resume, you are all set. However, if they used a unique version of the job title, match it,” she writes.
Mine online information about the company
Spend some time on each prospective employer’s website, and/or review any organizational literature. You’ll want to seek out common words the employer uses to describe its culture, organizational philosophy, and employees.
Some employers have amazingly rich career/job sections on their corporate websites that go into great detail about organizational values and culture — and some even include quotes and testimonials from current employees. Take some of the words each employer uses to describe itself and its employees and use those words on your tailored resume. In addition, social media can provide some additional insight — look at Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to see what terms consistently pop up.
Reach out to your network
Go to your network and find leads on people who work in the field, and ideally, people who work in your targeted organizations. If possible, schedule informal discussions and/or informational interviews so that you can glean even more insider information and additional insights into the company.
Finally, remember that when you are considering how to tailor a resume for a specific job, it probably won’t be worth the effort of applying if you don’t have at least fifty percent of the qualifications.