How to Tailor Your Resume to a Job Description

Updated: Nov 7, 2019


Marketers target their advertisements, honing their ad’s tone and content to capture the attention of a particular audience. History has taught us that great advertising can make a winner out of even the most mundane products—Gary Dahl famously made more than a million dollars selling “pet” rocks. A resume is many things: a summary of your qualifications, a work history, and, perhaps most importantly, a marketing tool.


Like the advertisements you see on television or in magazines, it’s critical that your resume has a message targeted to a specific audience (or, in this case, employer)—focusing on your relevant skills, experiences, and achievements, along with how they’ll benefit that particular employer—in order to stand out from the crowded field of candidates. Keep reading to learn how professional resume writers fine-tune resumes by zeroing in on an audience and how it enormously affects the perception of a candidate.



Read the Job Description


The key to customizing your resume to a particular position is to carefully read the job description, noting the specific skills and requirements the employer is looking for in candidates. By doing this, you’re able to learn the needs and priorities of the employer and tailor your resume to show why you’re a great fit for the job. Below are a few tips for analyzing a job description.


Skills and Responsibilities: Note what skills and responsibilities are mentioned first in the job description—they’re important to the employer.


Employer Emphasis: Record any points that are mentioned multiple times; the employer is emphasizing these for a reason.


Keywords: Document any unique language, keywords, and buzzwords used in the job description and incorporate them into your resume.


Job Title: Use the title of the job you’re applying for. If you’ve never held that position, work it into a summary statement.


Read Between the Lines: It’s often possible to discern the type of candidate an employer is looking for through what’s implied in the job posting rather than what is explicitly stated. Are they looking for a team player or an employee that can work independently? Do they value experience or are they looking for a fresh perspective?



Research the Company


In addition to tailoring your qualifications to the job description, stand-out resumes are also customized to reflect a company’s culture and values. Demonstrating an understanding of a company’s beliefs is an excellent way to show you’re a great fit for a job. Here are a few places you can learn about a company’s culture:


Employer’s Website: Click on a potential employer’s website and checkout their “about us” and “career” pages. Pull out any common themes and words the company uses to explain their values and work it into your resume.


Social Media: An employer’s social media feeds are a great spot for gaining insight into a company. Scroll through their feeds and look for frequently used themes.

Your Network: Search your network for connections that work for a potential employer and pick their brain for inside information and insights.



Adjust Your Experiences


Now that you know what skills and qualifications an employer is looking for, along with the values and culture of the company, it’s time to tweak your resume put you in the best light possible. It’s here that the best resume writers will help you prove why you’re the right person for the job.


Important Info First: The average recruiters looks at a resume for about seven seconds. Find the qualification, skill, or experience that will excite an employer most about you—the one that will encourage them to keep reading—and move it to the top of your resume.


Don’t Bury the Lede: Busy hiring managers and recruiters don’t have time to read the entirety of every resume that comes across their desk, so certified resume writers encourage candidates to get their most relevant skills and qualifications onto the top third of their resume.


Favorable Format: A favorite piece of advice when asked about resume help is to structure your experiences to match the job your applying for. Whether it’s your current position, a side hustle, or your education, place whatever most closely ties you to a job at the top of your resume.


Beat the Bots: More than 98% of Fortune 500 Companies now use applicant tracking systems (ATS). In order to get your resume past these systems and into the hands of hiring managers and recruiters, it’s vital that you incorporate the keywords found in the job description throughout your resume.


Edit Out Unrelated Information: Space on your resume is valuable real estate. If a sentence or bullet doesn’t reinforce why you’re a great fit for the job, remove it.


Prove It: Don’t just tell a potential employer why you’re a great fit, show them. Use facts, figures, and examples when highlighting your accomplishments. (Hint: numbers stand out on a text-heavy resume.)



The Takeaway


Big-name businesses hire advertising agencies all the time to help increase their marketability and brand awareness. Why shouldn’t you? A resume writing service like SoCalResumes can help you craft an eye-catching resume with a message tailored to a specific employer that will get you an interview. Contact SoCalResumes today to get started on branding yourself as the right person for the job.

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