Resumes & Cover Letters

6 Steps to Tailor Your Resume for Any Job Posting

Written by Peter Jones

All of the job search advice these days stresses the need to tailor your resume to the job you are applying for, rather than blitzing out 50 generic ones. Trouble is, you’re not quite sure how to tailor your resume.

Here are a few tips you can follow to make sure this process is a breeze, setting you up for success with whatever hiring manager gets your documents.

1. Read carefully.

First step is actually reading and comprehending the job posting and what it’s asking for in a candidate. Do yourself a favor and read it through with a highlighter. Mark all of the most important aspects, particularly anything that’s repeated or out of the ordinary—or that happens to match your particular skills. Knowing what the job entails is your top priority. Nothing else matters.

2. Don’t bury the lead.

Figure out what the most important or exciting match between your candidacy and the posting might be. What will really get the hiring manager’s attention? Maybe it’s your current position, or a certification you recently achieved. Even if it isn’t your most recent accomplishment. Then make sure to feature that right up front—as in: the first section of your resume.

3. Revamp your bullets.

Be sure to take your major focus points out of later bullet points. But do also make sure to include some of the most relevant soft skills that would make you stand out as ideal for the job. Spin these bullet points to support your main focus and supplement your candidacy for that one job.

4. Cross check again and again.

Now that you’ve done some work on your resume, go back to your highlighted job posting and make sure that anything you highlighted there appears verbatim somewhere on your resume—and preferably somewhere prominently featured.

5. Add detail.

Wherever possible, add numbers and details to help your skills (aka “Customer service skills”) shine out as something more tangible. (Aka “Boosted revenues by 10% and upped customer retention”).

6. Pimp your cover letter.

Don’t make the mistake of sending a perfectly tailored resume with a generic cover letter. Make sure you also spend some time tailoring your cover letter, in much the same way.

Bottom line: Make sure both your resume and your cover letter pass the keyword test, including and/or featuring any and every keyword that appears in the job posting.

About the author

Peter Jones