How to Properly Tailor Your Resume for the Job

Resume

Your resume is perfectly polished. You’ve quantified all of your accomplishments and thoughtfully included your most impressive achievements. You may have even had a friend proofread it to make sure there aren’t any erroneous mistakes.

Now it’s time to send it out to every and any job you’re interested in, right? Wrong.

Yes, you will be able to use the same resume for some positions — it’s not necessary to tailor your resume to every single role — but it’s important to ensure that your resume showcases why you’re the only fit for the job. It can’t do that if it’s too generic or doesn’t explain a specific job requirement fully.

If you’re applying to positions with the same title and in the same industry, it’s likely you’ll only need to tweak your resume slightly, but if you’re applying to the same position across industries you may need to create a few special versions. Here’s how to create a perfectly tailored resume.

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Consider the Industry

You’re likely applying to roles within the same industry, but there could be cases where your dream job pops up in a sub-specialty or adjacent industry. In that case, it’s important to show that you have experience in that space, or show how your experience directly correlates to their industry. Be explicit and tell the hiring manager how you’ve worked in a lab for 5 years and while it was in a slightly different environment, you still have the skills necessary to complete the tasks required of the open position. Brainstorm a list of transferrable skills you have and weave them into your resume.

Think About the Role

In today’s job market there are so many job titles that are similar or lateral to each other. But, it’s still important to consider the small nuances that make them different. Maybe one has ‘manager’ in the title and it’s clear from the title that you’re managing projects, not people. In that case, ensure your resume talks about project management skills. For example, I may apply for a staff writer, writer, senior editor, or managing editor position. Yes, they are all similar and require a lot of the same skills, but there are minor differences in each position that are important to be mindful of. This means making a version for each position you feel fully qualified for. But be sure to narrow this down before you go making 10 versions. It’s important to be thoughtful about which positions you apply for— and create resumes for — to up your chances of hearing back.

Mimic the Job Description

When recruiters and hiring managers write job descriptions, they are literally telling you exactly what skills and experience you need to land the job. Mimic their language and specifically tell them how your experience relates. Are they looking for someone to manage a team of 10 people? Tell them how you’ve successfully managed a team of 12 for three years. No, you don’t need to go line by line and make sure every bullet matches the job description but ensuring that the main requirements are addressed is important. Once you read through the description, you can probably pick out the skills that the hiring manager will key in on the most. Use those specific requirements or skills to relate your experience back to and you’re on your way to securing a phone interview.

So, next time you’re applying to new jobs, make sure your resume is telling the right story — even if it means having to tweak a few bullet points. Those small details could mean the difference in catching a recruiter’s eye or being lost in the shuffle.

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