Tailoring Your Resume – A How-To Guide

Tailoring Your Resume

It’s age-old advice, and recruiters are constantly repeating the same rhetoric—“Be sure to custom tailor your resume per the role.” Sounds great in theory, right? You want to ensure that whoever is screening applicants easily sees that you have the skills necessary to successfully perform the job. Or better, you want them to be so sure you’re a fit that they couldn’t possibly put your resume in the “maybe” pile.

But that’s a lot of work, especially when you’re sending out hundreds of resumes. We get it, and we’re here to help! Here are five tips and tricks from the recruiting experts.

1. Review your Professional Summary

This one is SUPER important, which is why we list it first! Your summary is vital because it’s the very first thing the reader sees. If it’s too vague, the reader may get the sense that you’re just applying to every role you see. If it’s not aligned with the job description and the company, it’s an easy way to disqualify you. A reviewer may see that you have the proper experience but will place you in the second tier of applicants because it “just doesn’t make sense” with your career progression.

2. Key Words Matter

Study the position description. What adjectives are used? Not all job descriptions are created equally, but for those that use the same words a few times throughout, be sure to speak to that on your resume. If the description calls out achievement orientation or goal attainment, be sure to list specific metrics you’ve achieved, details around those achievements, etc.

3. Industry Matters

If your experience doesn’t align from an industry standpoint, that’s not always the end of the world, and for some roles it doesn’t even matter. However, when there are similarities such as industry, company size, or similar customer base, for example, be sure to spell it out. This can be as simple as listing a very brief description of the company below the company name on your resume. This allows the reader to make those connections and easily see the transferability of your experience. Don’t assume everyone knows who your current/prior employers are. It’s also a good idea to avoid industry or company jargon, especially if you’re considering stepping into a new space.

4. Titles are Vital

We’ve heard so many times that candidates feel they may be getting overlooked because they are underqualified or overqualified for the role they’re interested in. First, are you under or overqualified? If yes, then stop here. This doesn’t apply to your scenario.

If not, we’d advise you to adapt your titles to reflect what you really did for the company. For example, if you’re the Senior Director at a small company, it may be beneficial to list yourself as a Manager if that’s the title of the role you’re applying for. You can do this with integrity if a title switch genuinely reflects the work you performed. Another option is to include the title you feel is appropriate as well as your official title; for example, “Manager of Marketing (internal title, VP of Marketing).”

5. Don’t Recreate the Wheel

Savvy candidates will have at least 6 versions of their resume once they start their job search. In particular, candidates who could pursue a wide variety of paths often have a few different versions specifically tailored to the roles they’re targeting. Tools like ChatGPT or resume builders can help! You don’t have to do it all on your own, and what’s important is that you ensure you’re applying the right version for each role.

Tailoring your resume for the role you’re applying for is an easy way to increase the chance of your resume being at the top of the pile, so this is a step in your job search you won’t want to skip. For more tips on resumes and other stages of the job search process, check out this handy checklist! And, as always, you can chat with us directly about how we can help streamline your search.