Resume Tailoring: Definition, Benefits, and How-to

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated December 4, 2022

Published May 18, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Your resume's job is to show you are well-qualified for a position. The goal is to get an interview. Tailoring your resume to a job posting demonstrates you're particularly suited for that position and may help you stand out from other applicants.

In this article, we define resume tailoring, discuss the benefits of resume tailoring, and explore the steps you can take to tailor your resume.

What is resume tailoring?

If you're seeking new employment opportunities, you may wonder, "What is resume tailoring and why is it helpful?" When you view a job listing, you see a list of required skills and an outline of certain tasks that are part of the job. Resume tailoring is adapting your resume to highlight that you have the skills to complete these tasks successfully. You narrow your resume to include what's relevant according to the job description and omit other experiences. This allows job recruiters to quickly see you're a good match for the job.

Related: Why Creating Multiple Versions of Your Resume Works

Benefits of resume tailoring

A tailored resume will show you have the skills required to be successful and have used them successfully in the past, increasing your chance of getting an interview. Here are some reasons for this:

It demonstrates your enthusiasm for the job

When applicants don't tailor their resume for a job, it can mean they're sending out the same resume for every job and recruiters receive resumes that don't line up with the job listing. When you submit a tailored resume, recruiters can see you made the effort to customize your resume for the job posting, demonstrating your enthusiasm for the role. Resume tailoring can help differentiate your application from the others, showing that you're passionate about the role, and raise your chances of getting an interview.

It shows your skills align with the role

When recruiters receive a resume, they look at it to see how well the candidate aligns with the job requirements. Many recruiters will first scan a resume. When it includes the specific keywords from the job listing, they can easily see your skills align with the role and are more likely to give your resume a more thorough read. This also shows you have all the qualifications for the job, including any education, technical familiarity, or licensing the company requires.

It optimizes your resume for technology

Most companies don't rely on humans for the initial read-through of a resume. Instead, they use applicant tracking systems, a type of technology that does an initial sort. These systems can search your resume for relevant keywords and may even present the company with a ranked list of resumes based on how well they match the job description. This means resume tailoring that follows the job posting can increase your chance of its being read.

It prioritizes the employer's needs

When you write your resume, you're doing it with the goal of getting a job. However, when a recruiter reads a resume, their goal is to find an individual who supports their company's needs and goals. Resume tailoring allows you to highlight your skills and accomplishments, making it easier for recruiters to see how you might help their company or brand.

Related:

  • How to Tailor a Resume for a Job Description (With Tips)

  • What Are Keywords for a Resume? (With Tips and Example)

  • How to Use a Resume Keyword Scanner (With Steps and Tips)

How to tailor your resume

You can use the following steps to tailor your resume:

1. Review the job listing thoroughly

Before you tailor your resume, it's important to read the job posting to thoroughly understand what the job entails. You can note words that are unique to the job description and add them to your resume. Also note specific education or training requirements you can include on your resume. Finally, note the order of skills and job requirements, as these may reflect the business's priorities. You can follow this same order on your resume.

2. Research the company

Once you've reviewed the job listing, go to the company's website and read pages such as its About Us to see what values the company finds important. You can then keep these in mind when doing your resume tailoring to show you fit in with the company culture. For example, if a company values collaboration, then demonstrate your ability to work well with others. Values or soft skills may also be in the job description.

3. Compare your resume

Now that you understand what the employee wants in terms of skills, qualifications, and character, you can tailor your resume. Examine your experience and determine what past jobs most align with the wants and needs of the company. You don't need to include your past jobs in reverse-chronological order if some of them don't highlight the skills the company is looking for. You can use a functional resume if you prefer. You can also consider separating your resume into sections with industry relevance and other experience in mind.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Functional Resumes

4. Create your summary

Because your summary is the first section on your resume, it's here that you want to position yourself as the ideal candidate for the job. Including the title of the job you're applying for indicates your resume is customized for the position. Try to include the top keywords you noted when you reviewed the job listing in step one. For example, if you're applying for an administrative assistant position that requires a well-organized individual and you're proficient in maintaining a schedule and completing filing, your summary might look like this:

Well-organized administrative assistant with over two years of experience in managing and maintaining office schedules. Developed an effective filing system that increased productivity by 25%.

Related: How to Write a Powerful Personal Statement

5. Tailor your work history

Take a moment to finesse the bullet points for your past jobs, including the keywords you noted in step one, with those prioritized listed first, even if these were not your main responsibilities. This allows the hiring manager to see you have the qualifications for the job and that you have read and reviewed the job description. For example, if you're applying for a marketing role that emphasizes social media strategy, begin your bullet points with examples of how you interpreted data to create a plan for the business's social media accounts.

6. Include measurable results and data

Recruiters want to see the impact you had in your past roles, not just a description of your job responsibilities. Resume tailoring to show quantitative data demonstrates the value you provided. For example, a hiring manager may be more interested in seeing a bullet point like

  • helped students gain confidence in and advance their English skills to improve tests scores by 25%

than

  • helped students improve their English skills and become more successful on tests.

In the second example, recruiters can't see a measurable result of the value you provided your students.

Related: 14 Resume Writing Tips to Help You Land a Job

7. Revise your skills section

If you can't include all your skills in your work experience section, you might include them in your skills section. As you did in your work experience section, include these skills in the same priority order as in the job listing. Again, make sure you're using the same keywords. It's in the skills section you may include specific technical skills, qualifications, or soft skills that don't fit into the work experience section.

8. Proofread your resume

Before you submit your resume, reread it for grammar and spelling issues. You may also want to make sure your resume tailoring looks at the summary section. It should align with the job description and the bullet points in your work history should relate to the responsibilities and requirements in the job posting. Consider asking a friend or mentor to review your resume and the job listing to determine if it's clear why you're applying for the role. Ensure your resume contains specific keywords and phrases to pass through any electronic systems and to help catch the hiring manager's attention.

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