Resume tailed and targeted to specific job positing.

Why You Need a Tailored Resume for Every Job Application

One of the most common mistakes job seekers make when sending their resume, is sending a generic one. The same one they submit for every job application, over and over again. Many applicants seem to believe that a one-size-fits-all approach to their resume will suffice, but in reality, tailoring your resume to each job application is essential if you want to stand out from the crowd. In this article, we’ll take a quick look at:


  1. Why Having a Tailored Resume Matters
  2. Best Practices for Making a Tailored Resume
  3. Mistakes to Avoid When Tailoring Your Resume
  4. When It’s Not Always Necessary to Tailor Your Resume

Why Having a Tailored Resume Matters

There are several reasons why it is important to have a tailored resume to each job application:


    1. Shows you’re a good fit for that role 
    2. You demonstrate to the employer that you’ve taken the time to actually read and understand the job requirements and have the necessary qualifications to perform the job effectively
    3. #2 usually leads directly to an interview, or at the very least, consideration for one.
    4. Employers receive a high volume of applications for each job posting, so they’re typically looking for reasons to weed out candidates quickly. If your resume doesn’t demonstrate that you’re a good fit for the role, it’s likely to happily get tossed aside. By tailoring your resume, you’re increasing your chances of preventing that.
    5. Helps you stand out from the competition, because most applicants will not have tailored resumes.

Best Practices for Making a Tailored Resume

As with most things that are done universally (each and every one of us needs a resume to apply to a job!), processes and systems and best practices emerge. Here are a few tips on how to tailor your resume to a job description:


    1. Study the job posting. The first step in tailoring your resume is to carefully read and study the job posting. Look for keywords, skills and qualifications the employer is looking for. Make a list of these and ensure that you include them in your resume if they align with your experience.

      For example, if the job posting lists “proficiency in Microsoft Excel” as a requirement, make sure to highlight your experience with Excel in your resume, preferably on page 1 as part of your summary.

    1. Highlight relevant experience and skills. Once you’ve identified the key requirements for the role, make sure to highlight any relevant experience or skills you have that align with those requirements. This could include past job experience, volunteer work or skills you’ve acquired outside of work.

      For example, if the job posting lists “experience with project management,” make sure to highlight any relevant experience you have managing projects, even if it wasn’t part of your formal job responsibilities, like office events or holiday parties. You can leave out personal projects like the construction of your children’s treehouse.           

    2. Customize your summary or objective statement. We don’t usually include an objective section when we write resumes, but many still do. Regardless, your summary or objective statement is the first thing employers will read on your resume, so it’s important to make it count. Customize this section to reflect the specific job you’re applying for and highlight your relevant experience and skills.

      For example, if you’re applying for a marketing role, your objective/summary statement could read: “Experienced marketer with a proven track record of developing successful campaigns. Seeking a role that allows me to leverage my skills in branding, social media and content creation.”

    3. Use specific examples. When describing your past work experience or accomplishments, try to use specific examples that demonstrate your skills and experience. This helps to make your resume much more interesting and memorable for the person reviewing it.

      For example, instead of saying “Managed social media accounts,” try saying “Managed a social media campaign that increased engagement by 50% and drove 10,000 new followers.”

To illustrate these best practices in action, let’s go a little deeper with the job of a software developer:


Let’s say you are applying for a job as a software developer at a technology company. You’ve reviewed the job posting and identified some key skills and qualifications that the company is looking for, such as experience with Java, familiarity with agile development methodologies, and excellent problem-solving skills.


    1. Use the job posting as a guide. Use the posting to identify the specific skills and qualifications that the company is looking for. Highlight these skills and qualifications in your resume, preferably on page 1, and make sure to showcase your experience and expertise in these areas.

      For example, in your resume’s summary or skills section, you might list “Proficient in Java programming language” and “Familiarity with Agile development methodologies” as key skills.

      Then, later in your work experience section, you might describe how you used Java to develop software applications, and how you implemented Agile methodologies to improve the development process.

    2. Quantify your achievements. When describing your work experience, use specific examples to demonstrate your achievements and impact. Use quantifiable metrics whenever possible, such as “Reduced development time by 20% by implementing Agile methodologies,” or “Designed and developed a software application that improved customer satisfaction by 25%.”
    3. Highlight relevant education and certifications. If you have relevant education or certifications, make sure to highlight them in your resume. For example, if you have a degree in computer science or a certification in Java programming, include this information in your summary, along with your education or certifications section.
    4. Customize your resume for each application. While tailoring is about your resume as a whole, customizing is more about tweaking your skills and qualifications section, emphasizing different achievements in your work experience section while removing others, or highlighting different education or certifications depending on the specific requirements of the job.

By tailoring your resume to the specific job you are applying for, you can demonstrate to the employer that you have the skills and qualifications they are looking for, and increase your chances of landing the interview, followed by the job!


Mistakes to Avoid When Tailoring Your Resume

It’s easy to make mistakes that can hurt your chances of landing an interview when you’re trying to tailor your resume to a specific opportunity. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:


  1. Copying and pasting: Simply copying and pasting job descriptions or bullet points into your resume can make it look and feel generic and unimpressive. Instead, focus on highlighting your relevant skills and experiences in a way that is unique to you. This is where we come back to identifying instances in your work experience where you can verbally demonstrate those skills and experiences through specific achievements.  

  2. Ignoring keywords: Many companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to scan resumes for keywords that match the job description. Make sure you include relevant keywords in your resume to increase your chances of getting past the initial screening process. Use the job description, industry-specific terms, action verbs and variations of keywords, For example, if the job description uses the term “project management”, include variations like “project coordination” or “project planning”. Something else you can consider doing is adding a Keywords section at the end of your resume. Employers who are using an ATS will understand why you’ve done this and may appreciate your proactive approach to beating the ATS. Just make sure those keywords also appear in your relevant work experience section. 

  3. Overemphasizing irrelevant experience: While it’s important to highlight your relevant experience, be careful not to overemphasize irrelevant experience. Again, focus on the skills and experiences that directly relate to the job you’re applying for.

  4. Not addressing gaps in employment: If you have gaps in your employment history, it’s important to address them in your resume. Be honest and explain any gaps in a way that highlights your strengths and positive experiences during that time. Most of the time it can be as simple as a short paragraph in your cover letter. However, if the gap led to positive experiences and gaining new, relevant skills, you could get a little creative and present it in your resume’s work experience section, in the same way you’re presenting your actual work experience. 

  5. Being too general: A tailored resume should be specific to the job you’re applying for. Avoid being too general or vague in your descriptions and instead focus on providing concrete examples of your skills and experiences.

  6. Forgetting to proofread: Typos and grammatical errors can make a bad impression on potential employers. Before submitting your tailored resume, make sure to proofread it carefully and have someone else review it as well.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can draw even more attention to your skills and strengths and increase your chances of landing the interview.


When It’s Not Necessary to Tailor Your Resume

While tailored resumes are important, there are some instances where it may not be necessary to tailor your resume. Here are a few scenarios where a tailored resume may not be needed:


  1. When applying for a similar role: If you are applying for a role that is similar to your current or previous positions, you may not need to tailor your resume extensively. Your existing resume may already highlight the relevant skills and experiences needed for the new role.

  2. When applying to a small company: Smaller companies may have less stringent hiring processes and may not expect a tailored resume. In many instances, they may not even be using an ATS. In such cases, a well-written and detailed resume may be sufficient.

  3. When applying at job fairs: At job fairs, recruiters may be looking for a broad range of skills and experiences. It may be more efficient to have a general resume that highlights your overall qualifications and experiences rather than tailoring it for each company. In this scenarios, employers and recruiters will also be more open and understanding to receiving generic resumes.

  4. When applying for a job in a different field: If you are looking to transition to a different field, it may be more effective to create a functional resume that highlights your transferable skills and experiences rather than tailoring your chronological resume.

It’s important to note that while a tailored resume may not always be necessary, it can still be beneficial to customize your resume to showcase your strengths and match the job requirements to align with different, but similar roles — unless your changing course. Ultimately, it’s up to the job seeker to assess the situation and decide whether or not to tailor their resume.


Final Thoughts…

In most cases, tailoring your resume is a crucial step in the job application process. By customizing your resume to match the job requirements and highlighting your relevant skills and experiences, you show potential employers and recruiters you pay attention, and indirectly, respect their time. Inevitably increasing your chances of landing a job interview. Remember to avoid common mistakes and being too general. Focus on providing specific examples of your skills and experiences that make you uniquely qualified for the job. With a well-tailored resume, you will stand out from the competition and showcase your value to potential employers.

Scroll to Top