5 Steps To Tailor Your Resume To The Job

When applying for jobs, you’re never writing just one resume. If you’re doing it the right way, you’ll be making new versions of the same resume for every job application. It might sound tiresome, but how badly do you want this job?

Sending the same resume to hundreds of hiring teams might seem like a smart tactic to increase your employment opportunities but that indiscriminate resume might be the exact reason you have limited success.

Research shows those who take a “one-size-fits-all” approach to resume submissions are less likely to advance in the hiring process than those who “target” their applications, tailoring each resume to suit the job to which you’re applying.

In a recent episode of RecruitMilitary LIVE on LinkedIn, U.S. Army veterans Lucas Connolly and Lucas Waniewski discussed five steps to target your resume and generate results:

1. Create a master resume with all the data

Before you can target your resume for a specific role, you need to create a master resume, where you write out all the skills, certifications, and experiences in your career. It doesn’t matter how long it is, because you’re not sending it to anyone.

Save this document as the master and do not delete anything. Instead, create a new document from this master resume for each position for which you’re applying.

After building the master resume, gather the job description, company mission statement, core values, relevant recent media, and any other information that helps paint an accurate picture of the company’s needs.

Collecting this kind of information will not only help target your resumes but also assist you in interview preparation, which you’re more likely to need now that you’re targeting your resumes.

2. Find your overlaps

With the data in hand, take a moment to thoroughly read the job description. Highlight keywords and phrases, identify the qualifications (both required and preferred) and key responsibilities of the role, and understand the expectations of the optimal candidate.

Identify how your resume correlates to the keywords and phrases you just highlighted. If your resume doesn’t have all the keywords, look at your work history to see if you have similar experience.

It’s important not to lie on your resume, but consider how some of your experiences could relate to the job description and add any new bullets or experiences to your master resume.

3. Summarize

While gathering the data, you should have researched the role and how it supports the company’s mission. At the top of your resume, after the administrative information, address how your background and skill sets can support the company’s bottom line.

Think of this as a written elevator pitch; keep it short and relevant to the role.

4. Target the skills list

Referencing the job description and its required qualifications list, frontload your hard and soft skills by listing them under your professional summary. Consider including key certifications in this section instead of burying them in education or experience.

Hard skills are supported by certifications, such as Project Management Professional or Lean Six Sigma. Skills you gained through experience, but not formal training or education can be listed in the form of a soft skill, such as project management.

5. Keep it short and relevant

On average, recruiters or human resource managers take 8-10 seconds to decide if your resume is worth reviewing further, so you have limited time to get their attention. Remove any work history that doesn’t directly relate to the job you are applying for. You want the relevant experience to be front and center.

Once you have decided what experience stays, rack ‘em and stack ‘em! Put the most impactful and quantifiable achievements as the first bullets in each work section. Even if your job titles don’t perfectly match what the employer is seeking, list similar work or comparable performance outcomes that demonstrate your ability to deliver results. Be sure to use relevant and quantifiable terms.

A resume that targets the needs of a company will only get you so far. Stand out from your competition by pairing your application with a tailored cover letter. For more information on cover letters, read Cover Letters 101: What, When, & How.

Listen to the full episode of  RecruitMilitary LIVE’s 5 Steps to a Targeted Resume.


Tips For Creating A Great Resume

  • Employers look at resumes for an average of only six or seven seconds.
  • You’ll get the best results if you send your resume between 6 a.M. And 10 a.M. Within the first four days after a job is posted.
  • Your resume should be clear, concise and tailored to the job for which you are applying.
  • This article is for job seekers who want to improve their resumes and increase their chances of getting an interview.

With the current labor shortage and low unemployment rate, job seekers are at an advantage. However, that’s not to say you don’t need a professionally written resume. Employers still want to find and hire the best employees for each open position, and resumes are the first step in that search. Use the following strategies to make your resume stand out and demonstrate that you are the best candidate for the job.

How to create a great resume

Here are some tips for creating an impressive resume.

1. Assemble your job history and skills.

The first step in creating your resume should include your relevant job history, industry experience and applicable skills. While you might feel tempted to add every place you’ve ever worked at, narrow down your history to only list relevant roles or experiences. This will keep your resume concise and direct hiring managers and recruiters to the right place. However, this also might mean creating multiple resumes and tailoring them to the specific job/company you’re applying to.

From there, format your resume so that it is easy to identify your qualifications. For instance, if you advanced in a company quickly, draw attention to that growth, said Claire Bissot, SPHR and director of Kainos Capital. If you excessively job-hopped, bullet those jobs without providing specifics and detail more applicable positions. This will play to your assets.

When structuring your resume, make sure the information is presented in a logical order, said career coach Veronica Yao.

“A hiring manager [will] read your resume starting at the top and ending at the bottom. However, if they don’t finish reading the whole thing — and they often don’t — you still want to ensure your strongest points come across.”

2. Use an original resume template.

Employers appreciate originality. While it’s helpful to refer to a professional resume template, don’t follow it rigidly, as this might actually deter potential employers.

“I often pass over resumes that match Microsoft Office templates,” Bissot told Business News Daily. “The templates are meant to be a guide to get started, but it should be expanded on to make it your own.”

Showcase your expertise in an appealing and eye-catching manner so you stand out from other applicants, especially if you’re in a creative industry. Include hyperlinks, aesthetic formatting, colors and shading, testimonials and other unique features. Use your resume to tell your career story. For instance, you can write an interesting “about me” section to personalize and summarize your experiences.

3. Fill out the sections.

Use bullet points or short lines to outline your job responsibilities and accomplishments for each role you’ve listed on your resume. This will help recruiters and hiring managers better understand your experiences and how you’ve helped that company grow.

Typically, it’s best to use action verbs and data-backed words rather than “fluff.” For example, if you’re outlining social media marketing experience, rather than simply stating “I managed social media platforms for my client,” write “Increased social media lead generation by X percent year-over-year.” This cuts to the point and backs up your credentials with hard data to showcase your success.

4. Choose the file type.

Most employers prefer resumes as Microsoft Word documents (.Doc) or PDF files. Microsoft Word documents are the most traditional and widely accepted file types for resumes, but PDFs ensure the formatting doesn’t become wonky after submission.

However, when you’re dealing with applicant tracking systems (ATS), Word documents are easier for these systems to read through and pick up on important keywords. This is important if you want to stand out in modern recruiting. If you submit a PDF or other file, you might get automatically rejected if the system cannot read it. A general rule of thumb is to save both versions of your resume and submit a Word document to applications on job sites and a PDF when sending directly to a recruiter or hiring manager. [Read related article: Ways AI Is Changing HR Departments]

5. Proofread the draft.

Before you submit your resume anywhere, proofread it yourself and ask a trusted friend or professional contact to do the same. One minor mistake or grammatical error could result in countless rejections. Your resume is your first — and often only — chance to impress a potential employer, and you should treat it as such.

Here are a few things to look at:

  • Spelling, grammar and punctuation: A hiring manager will likely automatically dismiss your application if they spot a typo or grammatical error. “Make sure it’s error-free and easy to read,” said Diya Obeid, founder and CEO of ATS company JobDiva. “HR reps equate typos and errors with laziness. Use good English — the written word has a huge impact on the employer.”
  • Formatting: “Review formatting very closely, including font, alignment and spacing,” Bissot said. “Related issues can often be perceived as a sign of lacking technical skills and/or attention to detail.”
  • Headings: Yao said that candidates often submit applications addressed to the wrong employer or outline experience that’s irrelevant to the role. “Receiving a resume that’s crafted and addressed to someone else — or worse, a competitor — can be a huge turnoff and will set a negative tone even if they do choose to continue reading your application.”

Resume writing tips

It can be difficult to succinctly present all of your experiences and qualifications on one page, but there are many ways to spruce up your resume without going overboard. To help you land an interview, we rounded up some of the best resume-writing tips.

1. Keep your resume short and direct.

The No. 1 rule of writing a resume is to keep it short and to the point. The general rule is no more than one page unless you have a good reason for it to be longer, like an extensive career or a lot of highly applicable work experience.

An easy way to keep your resume concise is to include only recent, relevant experience. While that yearlong first job might have taught you a lot about the field, you don’t always need to include every detail from your entire career history.

Most experts recommend including jobs from the previous 10 or 15 years only, although this time frame may be shorter if you are new to the workforce. Including too many unrelated work experiences can make your resume appear too busy and draw attention away from your relevant qualifications. Your resume should be focused, clear and concise.

If you are an older job seeker, here are some things you can do to condense and age-proof your resume.

2. Highlight relevant skills and experiences.

Using the same resume for every job you apply for is not the best approach. Instead, your resume should target the specific job you are applying for. Prioritize the skills, qualifications and experiences that are directly applicable to the job you are trying to land.

Choose three or four former positions or experiences that best highlight the skills required for each position for which you apply. Employers value brevity; this is not the time to list every position you have ever held. For example, if you are applying for a marketing position, you could include your former retail experience and bullet the communication, branding and interpersonal skills you learned in that position.

If you don’t have a work history that directly relates to the job you are applying for, be creative with how you present your other experiences. Draw on the skills you used and how your contributions benefited the organization or project. [Read related article: 22 In-Demand Skills to Help You Get the Job]

3. Demonstrate results with numbers and metrics.

When you write about your previous work experience, it is always a good idea to quantify your successes with numbers. Metrics can highlight your achievements and give the hiring manager or recruiter a clear sense of how you impacted your previous place of employment. For example, someone who previously worked as a sales representative might say that they “executed more than 50 cold calls daily, with an average 5 percent conversion rate.”

4. Craft a career snapshot.

More recently, career experts have urged job seekers to do away with the old “objective” statement and instead consider including a brief summary, called a “career snapshot,” at the top of their resume.

“With the career snapshot, you present a branding statement that briefly explains your unique value as well as your skills and qualifications,” said Tomer Sade, CEO of Book a Space. “This would then be followed by a few bullet points that highlight your experience and your accomplishments. Whatever you list here should be relevant to the position you’re applying to.”

“The top third of your resume is prime resume real estate,” added Lisa Rangel, an executive resume writer and CEO of Chameleon Resumes. “Create a robust summary to capture the hiring manager’s eye.”

Think of your career snapshot as an answer to the question “How would you describe your work experience in one sentence?” The summary is an opportunity to sum up your most relevant and important skills, experience or assets right off the bat.

5. Optimize your text.

If a company uses an ATS to collect and scan resumes, a human hiring manager may never see any application that doesn’t fit the job criteria they’ve entered. Trish O’Brien, vice president of human capital operations at Lifelong Learner Holdings, emphasized adapting your resume to the position to increase your likelihood of passing the first level.

“Make sure you’ve carefully reviewed the posting and … [used] the appropriate keywords in your resume to get past the screener,” O’Brien said. “Be truthful, but understand that the first pass on your resume is likely via an ATS.”

A helpful tip is to make sure you include keywords from the job post in your resume. Copy and paste the job description into a word-cloud generator to identify the most frequently used terms, and make sure the terms that apply to you are used in your resume. You can also create a “core competencies” or “areas of expertise” section of your resume to list all of your hard and soft skills, and then reiterate those skills when you bullet your experience.

According to Zippia, using keywords and industry jargon can increase your likelihood of getting an interview by nearly 30 percent.

6. Think beyond your job duties.

Hiring managers don’t want to read a list of your job duties. They want concrete examples of your accomplishments in previous positions that show how you can make a difference in this new position.

Rangel said that specific merits are more engaging to read than just your experiences. For example, “I reduced operating expenses by 23 percent in six months” is far more interesting to an employer than “I have 30 years of sales experience.”

When deciding what information to keep or cut out of your resume, focus on striking abstract traits and qualifications in favor of concrete, quantifiable results.

“The best resumes highlight a job candidate’s actions and results,” said Bob Myhal, chief marketing officer at CBC Automotive Marketing. “Employers want employees who get things done and who take great joy and pride in what they do. Rather than a laundry list of your qualifications, your resume should reflect your accomplishments and enthusiasm for your career.”

You shouldn’t ignore your skills section either. Sade reminded job seekers to list any industry-relevant apps or programs they’re familiar with and to find ways to incorporate examples of their emotional intelligence (e.G., self-awareness, empathy) and soft skills (e.G., work ethic, reliability) into their job descriptions.

7. Use the right language to stand out.

Trite, lackluster descriptions of your job duties and accomplishments won’t do you any favors. Make sure you’re using strong action words, such as “achieved,” “designed,” “improved” and “established,” to describe your roles and projects, said Sade. This will make you sound confident while imparting vital information. But be cautious about depending on action verbs — include details about how you improved a process or achieved a goal.

“Words such as ‘professional,’ ‘results-driven’ and ‘detail-oriented’ provide very little helpful information,” Sade said. “It’s better to use actual job titles than these words.”

Use a combination of action words to highlight your experience and make your resume easier to read.

Obeid said that you should remove words like “go-getter,” “team player” and “go-to person” from your resume. These come off as fluff and take up precious space on your resume.

8. List your social media profiles.

Many hiring managers today screen candidates on social networks. Save them a step by providing your profile links on your resume. Seasoned applicants with a professional social presence would do well to include URLs for their LinkedIn profile, Twitter account and blog, if applicable.

“If, and only if, your social media accounts are filled with professional posts pertaining to your industry, listing them on your resume can be advantageous,” said Richie Frieman, author of REPLY ALL … and Other Ways to Tank Your Career. “They can show you have a strong network and are up to speed with modern-day marketing and communications practices. The hiring manager will see that you like to keep up with what’s happening and that you care about learning more.”

Your social profiles can be a powerful recruitment tool to supplement your experience and position as an expert in your field, but only if they are leveraged correctly.

If your social profiles are not professionally applicable, do not list them on your resume, and make sure they are set to private.

Importance of a great resume

Your resume is the most important document you’ll submit in your job search. It’s your frontline fighter, so to speak, as it’s your first opportunity to present yourself to a potential employer. A professional resume will help you achieve the following:

  • Increase your earning potential. According to the Zippia research, professionally written resumes are not only good for landing an interview, but they can also boost your earning potential by 7 percent to 32 percent.
  • Increase your chances of securing a new role. Zippia also found that 68 percent of job seekers who have worked with a professional resume writer landed a new job in under 90 days. If your resume lacks professionalism or relevance to the positions you’re applying to, you likely won’t receive as many opportunities.
  • Quickly impress recruiters and hiring managers. Hiring managers and recruiters look at resumes for an average of only six to seven seconds each, so make every second count. A strong resume can help you stand out from the crowd, but a weak resume can remove you from the running.
  • Decrease your number of rejections. According to Zippia, you need to send an average of 50 to 100 resumes before you get hired. However, the more impressive and professional your resume is, the lower this number will be — and the less you will have to wait to start a new job.

Make a great first impression

Your resume is a great way to showcase your experience and make a solid first impression. It doesn’t matter how talented, passionate or experienced you are — if a recruiter or hiring manager is unimpressed by your resume, you won’t get the chance to sell yourself. If you follow the tips above, you’ll increase your chances of moving on to the interview stage of the hiring process and landing the job of your dreams.

Kiely Kuligowski and Skye Schooley contributed to this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.


Writing A CV

Find out more about how to create an effective CV. Busy employers receive lots of CVs so yours may only have a few seconds to make the right impression.

First steps – how do I start?

A CV will usually include information about your education, work and extracurricular activities, plus any positions of responsibility. If you haven’t already got a CV, start by creating a document with information about yourself under each of these headings. You’ll need a bit of detail about these so write a short summary of your experiences and activities, including the skills you demonstrated and anything you achieved.

Make sure to meet the criteria

To write your CV, you need to be clear about the required skills and qualities for the job or course concerned. A general CV which isn’t targeted stands little chance of success, so you need to work out what the recruiter is looking for. You can usually find this in the job / course description. If this isn’t very detailed, or you’re sending your CV to ask about possible opportunities, read relevant careers profiles and similar job adverts to help.Then you need to match your CV to the requirements by:

  • making sure your most relevant experiences appear early in the CV
  • using keywords from the recruiter’s advert
  • referring to the skills and qualities they require

Content and structure

A CV is divided into sections, typically including:

  • Name at the top followed by contact details. Email and phone are usually enough. You can include a postal address but leave this out if you are submitting your CV to a jobs board or a recruitment agency. You can also include a link to your LinkedIn profile or personal website. Don’t include a photo of yourself for a UK CV
  • Education – titles of your qualifications and any relevant degree content, eg key modules, projects and/or skills you’ve gained
  • Work experience/Employment – include full/part-time, temporary and voluntary jobs. Summarise your duties, achievements and the skills involved
  • Positions of responsibility, if any
  • Additional skills (eg languages or relevant IT skills)
  • Interests – brief descriptions to give an insight into your personality and involvement
  • Referees – Normally two, a university tutor plus one other, ideally work related. Provide name, job title, along with university department or organisation name, email and phone number. You can usually just put ‘References available on request’ if you need to save space. Remember to get your referees’ permission.

Note, the sections don’t have to appear in this order or use exactly these headings. Create headings that match to key words or relevant experience.

Personal profile

A ‘Personal profile’ or ‘Career Objective’ statement is optional and most people do not need one. In some sectors it may be expected, so do some research into the industry or type of role that you are applying for. It can also be useful to include a statement if you are giving someone your CV without a covering letter or supporting application; for example at a recruitment event.

It’s hard to write a really good personal profile but if you do decide to have one, make it concise and to the point. Briefly cover who you are, what you have to offer (in terms of your most relevant skills and experience), and the type of job you are looking for.

Format and style

Your CV needs to create an excellent first impression through a professional format and layout through:

  • A sensible length, normally two A4-sized pages maximum. Recruiters haven’t time to read more. If a job doesn’t require lots of qualifications or experience, a one-page CV may be fine
  • A clear, common typeface, with good use of the space on the page – avoid dense, long sections of text and large empty spaces
  • Consistent format for headings, spacing, and typeface throughout
  • Dates and locations (town/city) for your education and work history
  • Correct spelling, punctuation, grammar – mistakes mean your CV will probably be rejected

We don’t recommend using one of the many online CV templates. Another person’s format and structure won’t necessarily suit what you want to emphasise.

Written style

Aim for concise statements to make it easy to read quickly. You need to write with impact so go for short, simple sentences or bullet points. Instead of using “I” every time, start sentences or bullet points with verbs that match the skills the recruiter is looking for, eg “Organised…”, “Liaised with….”

Use positive and active words, eg rather than “My duties included serving customers…” or “I had to serve customers…”, it’s better to say “I met customers’ needs by…”

Where possible, include what you achieved in your activities, eg how you contributed to your employer’s business or group project for example, or what you did that led to improvements or helped achieve the desired result. Alternatively, comment on what you learnt from your experience, eg about effective teamwork or how businesses operate.

CVs for the global market

If you are applying for work internationally, do some research into the expected format and content of a CV for that country. For example in the USA a CV (or resume) is usually only one side of A4. In China it can be up to three sides and in Greece up to five sides.

Personal details

Some countries require comprehensive personal details such as nationality, gender, marital status or date of birth. In others eg the UK and USA, anti-discrimination laws make this information unnecessary.


Different countries have different guidelines for adding a photograph. In Europe and Asia, adding a photograph is often standard practice. Use a ‘head and shoulders’ professional-looking image.


You may wish to include the local equivalent to your qualifications on your CV, so that the recruiter can understand your level of education. In some cases you will be required to produce evidence of your qualifications at the point of application.

Key tasks

Once you’ve read our advice, we suggest completing the following tasks:

1. Attend one of our CV workshops or watch our recorded CV webinar. See our events page for more information.2. Explore our top-rated online course ‘How to succeed at applications’3. Use our interactive CV Checker. Based on your responses, we’ll give you feedback on your CV!4. See our sample CVs to get an idea of how our advice can be put into practice5. CVs are usually accompanied by a covering letter. Find out about writing a successful covering letter



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