How to Write a Targeted Resume in Five Steps (With Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated September 1, 2022

Published September 7, 2021

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.

The hiring process can be very time-consuming, so many hiring managers use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to help generate a shortlist of candidates with relevant experience. Targeting your resume for a specific job description can increase your chances of getting shortlisted. If you are applying for work, knowing how to create a customized resume can help make it more effective. In this article, learn what a targeted resume is and discover five steps for writing one, find out what to include, and review tips and an example to help you write your own.

Related: How to Write a Resume

What is a targeted resume?

Targeted resumes are one-page documents that highlight your education, professional experience, accomplishments, and skills. These resumes differ from general resumes in that they target specific qualifications or characteristics relevant to the job you are applying for. To write this kind of resume, you'll need to review the specific job description in some detail. It's important to identify elements connected to your own experience that may appeal to the hiring manager. The goal is to ensure that the ATS shortlists your resume, which will help you progress to the next stage of the hiring process.

How to target your resume

Here are some steps to follow when targeting your resume:

1. Read through the job description

Carefully read the primary duties listed in the job description. Consider any similar tasks you have done and include them in your work experience section. Hiring managers are looking for candidates with relevant skills and experience, so include anything that is relevant to the position in question. For example, if a role requires particular skills, make sure you list them in your skills section. And if the job description lists specific skills critical to the role, give more evidence of your experience with these skills in the summary at the start of your resume.

2. Scan for keywords

Hiring managers use applicant tracking systems to search for specific keywords in resumes. Read the job description carefully to identify keywords that the ATS may target. Look for specific phrasing about skill sets, job titles, or even experience. For instance, if you're applying for a marketing manager role, include variations of the words "marketing" and "manager" in your resume. If the job description explicitly mentions technical terms, be sure to put the same terms in your resume.

3. Edit your template resume

Rather than creating a new resume every time you apply for a job, create a template with outlined sections where you can input information. These sections will help you maintain formatting as you add and remove information for each application. Don't forget to keep a record of the resumes you send to each employer for easy reference before an interview.

In addition, consider keeping an ongoing master resume with all of your previous experiences and skills. This can be multiple pages long. When creating a copy of your resume for a specific job, use information from the master copy, but only include information that would be valuable to the hiring manager.

4. Review each section

Read each section of your resume to determine if there is anything else you can include to demonstrate that you are suitable for the position. When adding bullet points to your work experience, consider using the WHO method:

  • What did you do?

  • How did you do it?

  • Outcomes related to the work

Asking yourself these questions can help you be more thoughtful about the information you share. Your resume aims to prove your competency in similar roles and show you have the background to succeed in the new role.

Related: Words to Avoid and Include on a Resume

5. Proofread for errors

Prove that you have attention to detail by proofreading your resume. Watch for formatting errors, awkward sentence structures, typos, and grammatical errors. Ask a friend, family member, or professional to read your resume. They may notice any additional edits you can make. Hiring managers only have a few minutes to look through each resume and qualify candidates. Ensuring your resume is clean and professional is an easy way to help you pass their inspection.

What do you include to target a resume?

While these resumes contain the same sections as a functional resume, it also includes specific details that apply to specific job descriptions, such as:

Job titles

Include the job title stated in the job description in your resume. If you've already held that title, you can list it in your work experience section. You can also put a potential job description in the header of your resume. The job title can be a keyword that hiring managers put into their ATS to find suitable candidates.

Adjectives

If a job description uses a specific adjective or phrase like "detail-oriented" or "quick," these may be words that are targeted by an ATS. Try to match the description of yourself to the job description as closely as possible. You can put this information in a personal statement at the beginning of your resume or in your previous work experience section.

Related: How to Include Your Accomplishments on a Resume

Years of experience

Indicate the number of years you've been in each position and consider listing your years of experience in a specific field. Many job descriptions list a minimum of years of experience required for the role. To pass any filters searching for these qualifications, consider listing the total years of experience in your field in a personal statement in your header.

Related: What to Put in a Resume

Tips for creating a targeted resume

Here are some tips that you can follow :

Add a personal summary

Many resumes start with a few sentences below the candidate's name. This personal summary is a great place to highlight your skills and experience. These sections are especially helpful when writing targeted resumes because you can edit them to fit each job description. A personal summary provides a place to include keywords for job descriptions so that you only need to add minimal edits to the rest of your resume.

Read more: Nine Resume Profile Examples

Use a template

The presentation of your resume shows your professionalism. To maintain the same level of detail and professionalism in every resume, use a template where you can enter targeted information. Having a template with a professional format saves you time and helps you maintain a consistent presentation.

Save your submitted resumes

Once you have created a resume using your template and master copy, save the new copy with the name of the position for which you are applying. That way, you can reference the right resume in further communications with each company. For example, if you are writing a follow-up email or preparing for an interview, you can reference the exact information you put in your targeted resume.

Example of a job description and applicable customized resume

Here is an example of a job description that informs the example of a resume below:

E-commerce specialist

Our team is looking for a creative and enthusiastic e-commerce specialist. The right person has experience working on a wide variety of content marketing systems and web platforms. In addition, the ideal candidate has a background in working with diverse clients and has innovative ideas.

Primary job duties:

  • Monitor sales and customer interactions with the website

  • Organize wireframes for website pages

  • Update and merchandise web pages

  • Create a purchasing plan for online inventory

  • Update website copy to fit within branding guidelines

  • Analyze monthly data reports

Qualifications

  • Two to three years of e-commerce experience

  • Bachelor's degree in one of the following areas: marketing, communications, psychology, or business

  • Working knowledge of Microsoft Office

  • Working knowledge of WordPress

Skills

  • Creative

  • Strategic

  • Hard-working

  • Innovative

  • Curious

Here is a resume that is based on the job description example above:

Fiona Reagles
1049 Weston Rd, Toronto, Ontario
555-565-5588
fiona.reagles@email.com

E-commerce professional with three years of experience, skilled in page organization and CMS management, eager to continue her career working with diverse clients in a variety of industries.

Education

University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, 2010-2014
Bachelor of Business Administration
Dean's List, 2013-2014

Work Experience

E-commerce specialist - WebBuy Company, Saskatoon, SK, October 2014-Present

  • Strategized and implemented web initiatives to organize and manage website. Saw a 50% increase in revenue after my merchandizing update.

  • Created wireframes for website pages to organize the customer path

  • Developed an inventory buying plan that increased product turnover by 70%

E-commerce assistant - ElectroFoods Corp, Regina, SK, July 2014-Present

  • Merchandised products online

  • Monitored sales and customer engagement to prioritize popular pages and products

  • Used WordPress to format, edit, and publish content

Sales intern - SalesMart Inc., Moose Jaw, SK, July 2013

  • Wrote copy for product pages

  • Assisted customer service with e-commerce customers

Accomplishments

  • Most Valuable Intern - SalesMart Inc., 2013

Skills

  • Microsoft Office

  • Adobe Suite

  • Creative thinking

  • Hard-working

  • Strategic planning

  • Attention to detail

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed. The model shown is for illustration purposes only, and may require additional formatting to meet accepted standards.

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