The Least Painful Way to Tailor Your Resume

How to Write a Tailored Resume for Your Job ApplicationOne of the most important parts of your job search can also be one of the most tedious: tailoring your resume.

Each job is unique and therefore warrants a unique resume and cover letter — but this does not mean that you should draft a resume from scratch each time you apply for a job.

Here are the steps to tailor your resume efficiently and effectively.

1. Create a Master Resume

A master resume is simply a long, highly detailed resume. It includes all of your qualifications and experience and is formatted just like a normal resume.

When you write it, put down everything — every job, internship, freelance project, volunteer gig, certification, skill, etc.

For each of your experiences, list everything — every responsibility, task, outcome, software program used, proficiency, etc.

Is your resume creeping onto a second, third, or even fourth page? That’s fine! You’ll never submit this resume, so length is not an issue.

2. Create a Tailored Resume

When you find a job to apply to, make a copy of your master resume. Pull it up alongside the job description and go through your resume, point by point, eliminating areas that are not central to the job. If you get stuck, ask yourself whether the skill or experience in question is:

  1. Directly related to the job
  2. Indirectly related to the job (i.e. a transferable skill)
  3. Unrelated, but likely to “wow” the employer

If you answer yes to one or more of these questions, then you should probably keep the skill or experience.

Once you narrow down your resume, revise the wording to include keywords. Consider which keywords are in the job description, on the employer’s website, and common to the industry, then substitute them for similar terms in your resume.

Finally, determine whether you need to reorganize your resume to make certain things stand out. For example, if a job requires proficiency in Photoshop but lists Illustrator as optional, then list Photoshop first so the hiring manager is more likely to see it.

Feel like you’re underselling yourself by eliminating so many qualifications? Put your full credentials online and include the link to them in your resume (it looks nice next to your contact info or as a footer, which can read something like, “For a full list of qualifications, visit www…”).

When it comes to the job hunt, what’s your #1 time-saving tip?

(Related: The 7 Worst Job Application Mistakes)

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Rachel Dotson

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Rachel Dotson is a former digital marketing manager and blog contributor at ZipRecruiter. She is based in Venice, California.

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