How to Effectively Tweak Your Resume for a Job


Many life science professionals are aware that there are ways to improve your chances of getting a job interview. Having a professional social media profile and including a customized cover letter for a position can be helpful. Knowing someone within your targeted organization and having them refer you (or participating in an employee referral program) is also ideal. When someone is already employed with the company, their confidence in you speaks volumes and can help you fast track the process to landing an interview.

Another effective way to stand out from other candidates is to tweak your resume to the specific job being applied for. Today, the majority of mid-sized to enterprise organizations utilize Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). These systems keep track of job candidates and usually score (or rank) individuals based on how their resume compares to what the organization has determined is important. Attempting to customize your resume yourself can be a time-consuming process, which might not lead to more interview requests. Here’s how to effectively tweak your resume for a job!

Understand what they’re looking for

Many life science professionals assume they know what an organization is looking for based on a job title. Unfortunately, this initial assumption can be false because many companies use the same wording, which can mean something different within each organizational structure. Initially, scan the job description to locate the requirements (education and credentials) the organization is seeking. After that, you want to make sure you’re competent in the job duties and responsibilities. In the past, we’ve covered how to efficiently understand what an organization is looking for in a job description.

Research a few similar job postings

Now that you have an idea of what one specific organization is looking for, it’s a good idea to do a little more research. Look up three or four more similar job postings online. You can try searching for the exact same position title or changing a minor word in the title. Are all of the job descriptions generally looking for the same qualities and experience? Or, do they seem vastly different in their preferred candidate and job scope? Make note of any similarities and inconsistencies between your original job description and the new ones.

Identify relevant keywords

As part of your analysis of multiple job postings, did you notice any of the same wording? If so, it’s highly possible that you have identified some common keywords based on your job target. For example, some keywords for life science positions could be research, data collection, quality and quality assurance. You’ll want to make sure your resume includes those keywords you isolated. Can you find places to incorporate those words in multiple areas of your resume? The specific job title itself can also be a keyword, so be sure to include that if you’ve had the same position (or a similar one) before.

Include significant accomplishments

Based on all that you know about the targeted job at this point, think about any past contributions or accomplishments you’ve had, that clearly relate to the position. Did you receive any special recognition, honors, or awards that demonstrate your skill or knowledge in an area? If that is the case, find key places on your resume to highlight those achievements (whether that is with your other professional experience or in a new section). Your goal is to make these accomplishments stick out when someone is doing a quick scan of your resume.

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Tweaking or customizing your resume is a great strategy when trying to land more job interviews. First, you want to completely understand what the organization is looking for in the job description. Next, it’s a good idea to research similar job postings to get additional insights on the role. After that, take a moment to identify any relevant keywords that showed up across the job postings. Find ways to include those words into your current resume. Finally, incorporating specific accomplishments that emphasize your skills and knowledge can be beneficial. Where can you make the first tweaks to your resume?

Porschia Parker is a Certified Coach, Professional Resume Writer, and Founder of Fly High Coaching. ( She empowers ambitious professionals and motivated executives to add $10K on average to their salaries.


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