How to Write a Tailored Resume That Wins Job Interviews

tailored resumeCreating a tailored resume for each position and company will not only get the attention of any hiring manager, it will help you win job interviews. In fact, tailoring your resume to the specific type of position is a key to a quality job search.

On the other hand, a broad and unfocused resume will be overlooked every time (sorry!). 

Here are the seven most effective ways to customize your resume:

1. Identify Appropriate Keywords

Even before it is ever be seen by the recruiter or hiring manager, your tailored resume will initially need to pass through an online application system. These systems use specific searches to find applicable keywords to determine if you’re a worthy candidate for the position.

In order to make it past the ATS, your resume must have the right keywords in the right places. You may already have industry-specific keywords on your resume. But, and this is paramount, you also need to incorporate keywords that are position-specific throughout your summary and employment sections. Use to find additional keywords. Then evaluate the important competencies for each position and customize your resume to reflect the optimized words. Of course, you will also need to be wise about the words you choose and how you incorporate them. Just like other search engines, online application systems detect keyword “dumps.” They know when your resume is so keyword-rich it doesn’t tell a cohesive story. The result? Your resume will be rejected.

2. Prove Your Expertise

Too often resumes simply summarize past job descriptions, rather than showing how milestones and wins were accomplished. One of the best ways to incorporate the right keywords into your tailored resume? Use them to show recruiters what you are an expert in.

Using the guidelines above to find the right keywords, deliver key accomplishments and metrics to emphasize your expertise. It will help tell the right story about your experience and candidacy while keeping an SEO (search engine optimization) friendly resume.

Craft your content with the keywords you want to emphasize, and create your story around the word. Showing the recruiter or hiring manager what you can do will always be more relevant than simply telling them that you are an expert in that area.

3. Tailor Your Heading Title

Your resume has only 6.25 seconds to make an impression on the recruiter or hiring manager. The first thing they will look at is your title heading, the bold statement at the top which indicates what you are an expert in and why the recruiter should continue to review your resume.

Your heading title is a great place for you to strongly correlate your experience with the position you are applying for. Make it as easy for the recruiter as possible by showing them that you are already qualified for their position.

For example, if you typically use a heading title of Digital Marketing Strategist but are applying for a Digital Marketing Manager position, update your heading to: Digital Marketing Manager. There is no guessing left for the recruiter and you will have piqued the recruiter’s interest from the very beginning.

Important note: if you are not applying for a specific position, but are seeking general opportunities or an exploratory interview, use your broad title. 

4. Ensure Your Tailored Resume is Free of Errors

As you customize your resume for various positions, items often get moved around, abbreviated or changed new spelling errors and grammar errors appear. So when you tailor your resume make sure your thoroughly review your resume before submitting it for application.

Check all tenses, particularly in the employment sections and be careful about how you conjugate your verbs, words like deliver, manage, and create. Use the same conjugation within a sentence structure. Example:

Incorrect: “Delivered various skills including X, Y and Z.”

Correct: “Delivered various skills which included X, Y, and Z.”

5. Take Out Internal Specific Acronyms and Activities

Each company has their own acronyms and abbreviations for different activities, geographies and projects. It is normal for these to become such a part of who we are in our everyday working lives that our resume tends to include “insider” speak that can often make little or no sense to the recruiter you are trying to impress.

The most commonly overlooked references include country geographies outside of the United States, metrics used and expertise identifiers. Read through your resume carefully and make sure you remove those items and replace them with the correct industry keywords or completely spell them out.

Don’t make them guess! Expand on the activities and abbreviations to ensure your true intent comes through.

6. When Applying Online, Remove Graphics

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), the software behind all your online applications, has come a long way. But it still does not work well with graphical components. Specifically, items such as tables or special character bullets or shapes do not come through well. 

In order to get around this, apply using a PDF version of your resume. But know that you may lose the keyword optimization strengths going this route.

7. Go Simple

Another option to get past the ATS is to have a simple version to use specifically for applying online. You can create a graphic-free version of your resume by removing the non-text elements and saving it as a .txt file. This file is as bare as you can get. An added benefit is it will show you if any additional items need to be removed.

Similarly, when you apply to a position via email, you should minimize the graphical elements. You never know how the recruiter or hiring manager will be opening or viewing your resume. It’s best to be on the safe side to ensure a visually appealing resume, instead of a garbled mess. 

These seven steps ensure that your tailored resume is customized for the position you are applying for. More important, this strategy wins job interviews!


For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Chameleon Resumes.


chameleon resumes


Lisa RangelAbout the Author: Lisa Rangel, founder and managing director of Chameleon Resumes, a Forbes Top 100 Career Website. Lisa has helped hundreds land the exact job they want. A former recruiter, she is a 10-time certified resume writer and job search consultant. She is a paid moderator for LinkedIn’s Job Seeker Premium Group and an Official LinkedIn Blogger since 2012. Lisa is a featured expert on Fast Company, Investors Business Daily, The BBC and the author of Follow Lisa on LinkedIn.



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