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Q: Do I need to tailor my resume to every job application I apply to?

A: Ideally, yes. You should tailor your resume to every role you apply to.

Each position calls for unique skills and language that hiring managers will be looking for. And integrating as many keywords from the job description as possible will increase the chances that your resume will get noticed.

Yes – this is absolutely time-consuming, and executing an effective job search takes time if you want your efforts to pay off.

That said, your goal should really be to have a strong “master resume” you can continually work off of and tweak. An effective resume should give an accurate and compelling snapshot of who you are, what you’ve done, and what you bring to the table for an employer.

The key to making it easy to tailor each time is in how you structure it. Organize it so that you have elements that are easy to change up, points your can swap out, and tailor based on what’s most relevant to the role. Follow these tips on how to easily tailor your resume to each job description:

Include a Resume Summary or Objective Statement

Open the resume with a strong summary or objective statement (bullets or brief paragraphs) that details your level of experience, target job title, and core strengths that you bring to the table. This is one of the first things they will read, and it sets the tone for the rest of the document. It’s also fairly easy to change up in a pinch. Here’s an overview of  how to write one.

Boost Keywords by Listing Out Your Skills

Highlight your core skills in a section either below the summary or at the end of the resume. Depending upon the role, you can swap out certain skill sets, or rearrange the listing order so that the emphasis is on the keywords and skills most relevant to the role you’re applying to. This also helps with keyword and ATS optimization. Here are two examples of how to list your skills on a resume:

This resume lists out the core skill sets based on their relevance to the role.

This resume example breaks out the skills by category, in this case, web development tools and methodologies.

Related: How to Write a Resume that Highlights Transferrable Skills

Break up your job descriptions into tasks and accomplishments.

Provide a brief high-level overview of your role, followed by a few bullets that describe your core responsibilities. Under that, you can create a break-out section entitled something like “Key Accomplishments:” or “Select Projects:”. This section should highlight your impact – and can include things like special projects, accomplishments, promotions, or any other way you brought specific value to the organization. Did you increase revenue, growth, or profitability in some way? Did you work on a strategic initiative that was a success? Did you enhance the customer experience, or improve your company’s culture? Did you reduce costs? All of these things should come out here.

A brief overview describes the function of the role, followed by specific bullets around the candidate’s job responsibilities and key accomplishments.

A brief overview describes the function of the role, followed by specific bullets around the candidate’s job responsibilities and key accomplishments.

In Conclusion

Creating a resume for every job is challenging, so start with a version that is easy to tailor and work in critical keywords. Determine the underlying message that you want your resume to convey. In other words, what are the key takeaways that your reader should gather after reading the document? Be clear on the types of positions you’re targeting, what the core skill sets are, and the value you can bring to the table. Finally, cross-reference job descriptions and note the recurring language and keywords that are used to describe the skills and qualifiers.

What Next?

You found your ideal role. Now let us help you tailor your resume to maximize your chances of standing out to hiring managers. Contact us to get started.