How to Tailor Your Resume to a Job Description

How to Tailor your resume.

When over 80% of job listings either require or strongly prefer candidates with prior relevant experience, it is imperative to demonstrate your related experiences on your resume to stand out from the crowd. 

What Does it Mean to Tailor Your Resume?

When an employer posts a job opportunity, it will come with a list of responsibilities and requirements. The act of tailoring your resume is incorporating the experiences you have that align with the job specifications into your resume.

Benefits of Tailoring Your Resume

While it can be tedious to adjust your resume for each job application, it can have immense benefits.

1. Stand out from Other Applicants

When recruiters are viewing the vast number of incoming applications, it is often the case where many applicants do not even have the most basic requirements for the job present on their resume. If you can clearly emphasize your relevant skills and make that easy to see on your resume, you will already be one step above many other applicants.

2. Beat the ATS Systems

Many employers, especially larger companies, have what is called an Applicant Tracking System. When you click that ‘submit’ button on an online application, your resume will be placed into this system. We often refer to this as the “resume black hole” where applications go to die. The system is not a human reading through each resume, but an algorithm that scans the resume and application for keywords. If you don’t have the proper language in your resume, there is a chance you can get filtered out from even getting your resume into a human being’s hands.

3. Demonstrates Interest

When you take the time to thoroughly read the job requirements and demonstrate them throughout your resume, it shows the hiring team that you are genuinely interested in putting the time and effort into the application process.

How to Tailor Your Resume

1. Read the Job Description, Thoroughly

First things first, read the job description. This is not the time for a quick scan, but instead an in-depth read. Highlight the requirements and responsibilities that are in alignment with your prior experiences. Also, make note of the specific keywords, terms, and jargon used as it will be important to incorporate those on your resume for the pesky applicant tracking systems.

2. Update Important Sections

With a fresh memory of the job description, take a close look at your resume. If it has been a while, make sure your recent job experience has been updated and recent skills have been added. Now it is time to add or make changes to your existing resume to incorporate your relevant skills. The most important sections to update are the summary, job experience, skills, and education (if any changes).

3. Incorporate Keywords

When updating your resume, make sure to use the same language, keywords, and jargon used in the job description. As mentioned prior, it will help get you through the company’s ATS. Additionally, if your resume is being reviewed by an actual person, using the same language will still be beneficial to help your resume stand out.

4. Measurable Results

It is highly recommended to use measurable and data-driven results and information in your resume. This helps to demonstrate the direct impact you had in your prior roles in clear terms. For example, instead of writing “created a marketing campaign that led to increased sales” state “created a marketing campaign that led to a 15% increase in sales”.

5. Make Key Points Pop

Use tools such as bold, underlining, or a pop of color to make specific sections, bullet points, or keywords stand out on your resume. However, do this subtly and with only the most important pieces of information. Too much and your resume will start to look unprofessional and poorly formatted.

6. Cut Irrelevant Information

If you have information on your resume that is outdated or irrelevant, it may be time to delete those sections. We recommend keeping resumes to two pages if possible. If there are jobs that are irrelevant and decades old, consider removing them. The most recent and relevant jobs should have the most bullet points explaining responsibilities. If you do not want to entirely cut out older opportunities, you can add an “Additional Experiences” section to list out other jobs here but do not go into immense details.

7. Proofread

Find a friend or family member, preferably one with a good eye for grammar and spelling, and have them read through your resume. Make sure it is not only error-free but also reads well and flows nicely. If a recruiter catches an error, your resume will have less chance of making it to the next round.

We hope these steps help to give you some clarity on how to tailor your resume to stand out the next time you are applying for a new job. If you are in the market for a new opportunity, check out our current open jobs list to see if any of our roles are a good fit for you!