Tailored Resumes: How to Show You’re the Best Candidate for the Job

tailored resumesIn today’s job market, HR departments receive hundreds of resumes every day. So how to you make a great first impression? You send tailored resumes to every employer.

Follow these steps to carefully tailor your resume for each job. Sure, it’s extra effort. But by doing so, you’ll become that candidate. The one who makes a recruiter jump on their swivel chair a la Tom Cruise, and shout “Finally… got one!”

Go Over a Job Posting at Least Twice

Want to know what an employer is looking for, exactly?

Here’s a hint: 90 percent of the answer is in the job ad.

Take a closer look at the job description, duties, responsibilities, skills and experience required. Given that, try to imagine what kind of person fits those requirements perfectly, and ask yourself: “Am I this person?” If not, look for another job, and do this step again. Trust me: You’ll find it much easier to sell yourself as a “fit” if you actually are a fit. And, of course, you show it on your tailored resume.

Include Only Your Relevant Skills, Experience and Achievements

Your credentials might span five pages of A4 paper. But if none of them have anything to do with the job you want? Then they won’t get you past an exhausted, over-caffeinated recruiter.

Go over your skills, experience and achievements one more time. Then narrow them down to the ones that are relevant to, and can lend you an advantage for, the job. For example, maybe you’re a psychology major who wants to become a copywriter? Emphasize how your understanding of the human psyche translates to an ability to write hits-all-the-right-buttons copy.

Also, remember to incorporate keywords in your tailored resumes, especially if the employer uses software like Taleo to recruit employees. No matter how well-crafted your job application is, it’ll get axed if it lacks the right keywords.

Mimic Your Employer’s Language

Is the job ad is written in a friendly, upbeat tone? Then use a similar tone in your resume and cover letter. If the ad is written in a way that reminds you of a dead leaf suspended over an active volcano? Write with the same sense of urgency.

And if the ad doesn’t give you much to go by? Check out your prospective employer’s website to get a feel for their tone and culture. You can also check out their official LinkedIn profiles. Also, visit local and national conferences where they’re likely to gather, or chat with industry experts. People gravitate to those who are like them.  Employers, as human beings, are no different.

If you know who your interviewer is ahead of time, check them out on social media to see what they’re like, what their interests are and what drives them crazy – and put it to use, subtly, in your interview. Be sure to check out the website to see if they share information about the team and their interests, too. Some companies, like Empire CAT, share information about the journey of employees in the form of videos or “Meet the Team” pages.

Also take note of how important the company culture is to them – if they have a lot of information about it on the website, it’s a safe bet that they’re going to be looking for a good cultural fit. Be sure to bring this up when speaking to the recruiters.

Avoid Done-to-Death Jargon

Whatever tone you use, however, avoid words like “hard worker,” “go-getter,” “results-oriented” and other phrases that only vaguely hint at what you’re capable of. Writing resumes is a lot like writing stories: Show, rather than tell, your employers what you can bring to the table. For example, instead of writing “Increased funds raised for our organization”, say “Multiplied funds raised by 200 percent.” Use strong yet precise verbs in your resume that’ll make a recruiter sit up and take notice.

Always Proofread Your Tailored Resumes

So many resumes fail because of  little errors. Writing “Ms.” instead of “Mr.” to address a male recruiter, for example. Check your resume for things that shouldn’t be there, and try to avoid the other stuff that drives recruiters crazy.

Remember, tailored resumes are your first step to making an impression on potential employers.

So what happens when extra effort is apparent in your application? An employer will think: “Hey, maybe this person will exert the same amount of effort with us, too.”

So send that kick-ass resume out. Learn and adapt as you go along. As you do, you’ll learn exactly what employers want to see in your tailored resumes.


For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Campus to Career!


Campus to Career



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