So, you decided to start applying for new positions and you need a resume for your job search.

But, the job world is hectic, cramped, competitive, and just completely overwhelming when we charge in unprepared.

How can you be more prepared for the job position you want?

I’m sure you have all heard the term, “tailor your resume” for each job you are applying for, but what does it actually mean?

Customizing your resume for the position you are applying for turns your generic resume into a document that stands out to the recruiter. You might have a lot of professional experience, but that doesn’t mean you are the perfect fit.

Tailoring your resume for the job shows not only that you are an experienced professional, but that you are the right candidate for that specific job.

What tailoring your resume entails:

Each job opening has a specific job description and is looking for clear-cut skills that can fill the position and perform the job well. So, when we tailor our resume, we are making sure that our job descriptions, skills, and summary are easily recognizable for the position. We want to make it as easy as possible for the recruiter to see that we are a fit.

An untailored resume may have the skills and may have the experience, but you are making the recruiter search for it. They have to read through your whole resume and try to decide if you are capable of doing the job at hand.

When you tailor your resume, you are showing the recruiter step by step where you acquired the skills and experience they are looking for.

The problem when you don’t tailor your resume:

Depending on the area and position, recruiters can routinely have 200+ resumes to look through. THAT IS A LOT OF INFORMATION TO SKIM.

Recruiters put a job description out there for a reason. It actually makes their lives easier.

When they receive a resume, they are putting it side by side the job description they already had written and comparing the two. Do you have the precise skills they were looking for in the position? What about the experience?

When you write a generic resume, that attempts to display everything about you that is awesome; it leads to a lack of callbacks. NOT because you weren’t necessarily qualified, but because someone else’s resume fit the job description perfectly and told the recruiter that they would come in and do great right away. No guesswork necessary.

A tailored resume makes it more about the recruiter and less about you.

So, how do we do that?

Read, and I mean actually READ, the job you are applying for.

What are they looking for? How many hours? What kind of skills? What experience is recommended?

If you can’t answer these questions, then you didn’t read the job description enough.

Reading the job description is going to give you an idea of how to begin tailoring your resume for what the recruiter is looking for.

Figure out what job experience, skills, keywords need to be on your resume by thoroughly pinpointing it in the job posting.

You can usually figure out what is most important to the company by looking at what comes first in the description or what is repeated. Use that to your advantage.

Make sure your professional summary and skills have the keywords they are looking for.

Figure out what keywords and skills are most important for the position.

What is the job title? If the job description is looking for a senior graphic designer, than that needs to be in your resume. It could be the title of your resume at the top, placed in the summary, or it could be in the experience section as a previous position.

What are the hard skills? Hard skills are measurable abilities or capabilities that a candidate possesses. If you are applying as a graphic designer, hard skills would most likely be your computer programming abilities, web design expertise, or your experience with Adobe CC. These are all measurable skills that can be easily identified through your work.

What are the soft skills? Soft skills are personality traits and behaviors. This could be your communication and people skills. Are you good with customers? Are you efficient at communicating with a team? Are you able to solve problems quickly? The job description is going to also be looking for skills like these.

Making sure these are all on your resume will not only impress the recruiter, but it will make sure you get through the ATS.

Match your resume content with the job description.

Study the descriptions on the job posting!

When you are writing your job descriptions, try to match yours as closely as you can with what the recruiter is looking for.

Your career experience is going to be one of the first places the recruiter looks, so make sure it is tailored for the position.

If you are applying for a managing position and the recruiter wants to see experience with leading a team, then be sure that your previous leadership is one of the first bullet points in your job description. Even if leading a team was only 15% of what you did at your last job, still, make sure it comes first.

Experience is experience.

If you are applying for your first position outside of college, then make sure your education and any previous experience you have are tailored in the same way.

Provide compelling reasons you are qualified.

A recruiter will typically put skills that they may have had previous employees lack, have problems finding within the company, or are really in need of.

So, if the company needs someone who can problem-solve, you want that to come across as something you are good at.

That doesn’t mean add a small section in your summary, stating how you are an “excellent problem solver.”

That is not convincing.

Instead, write about how, in your previous career, you were “responsible for researching and analyzing data about current applications to determine how to improve their speed and reliability.”

Now, that shows how impressive your problem-solving skills really are.

Make sure it is clear what job you are applying for.

Have someone proofread your resume before you officially apply.

The proofreader needs to be able to tell within the first 6 seconds of looking at your resume the position you are applying for.


Because recruiters themselves typically only spend 6 seconds looking at a resume before they decide if it is worth reading.

If a proofreader can’t see why you are applying, what you are applying for, or why you qualify, then you may need more tailoring done to your resume because the recruiter may not be able to determine it either.

By applying these tips to your resume, you should be able to nearly double your callbacks. However, it is essential to remember that if you are making a significant career change, and you do not have the relevant experience, skills, or education, there is only so much you can do. If that’s the case, you might want to express it in your cover letter.

I know that tailoring your resume may seem like one of the less exciting parts of the job search, and that’s because it is. But, it’s important to remember that is is also one of the most important, and it could genuinely be the difference between 8 callbacks or only 2.