From the blog

The Golden Rule of Resume Writing: Tailoring Your Resume to a Specific Job

Did you know that your resume initially passes through a robot? Today, most employers and job agents use a software called Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to filter resumes to fit the demands of the business. To pass this preliminary automated screening, tailoring your resume to a specific job role is crucial.

Have you heard that recruiters spend typically 6 seconds reviewing a resume? A study conducted using a scientific technique called “eye tracking”, investigated that recruiters spend only 6 seconds reviewing an individual resume before deciding whether it merits detailed analysis.

How can you impress a recruiter within this short period? According to Plymouth University, Careers and Employability advice, you need to think about the job opening as a question and the resume & cover letter as the answer. Your resume needs to answer the question by indicating that you can do a specific role, in a particular organisation with your skills, qualifications, and experiences which match the job role requirements. Then your cover letter needs to explain why you are keen on being selected for this opportunity.

Every job role and organisation has its necessities; therefore, you need to tailor every resume and cover letter to fit the opportunity rather than sending a standard resume and cover letter. It is always more beneficial to send a carefully tailored resume and secure your interview than sending ten poorly written resumes and not having any interviews.

Tailoring your resume and Cover letter to a specific job is an exhausting and a prolonged process, but when you are aware of this, you will be able to complete the process effortlessly.


 

Steps you need to follow when tailoring your resume are as follows:

 

1. Understand the job advertisement thoroughly

As soon as you see a vacancy that catches your attention, do not hurry to click the apply button without reading the advertisement carefully. Take a couple of minutes to grasp the job role.

 

 

 


 

2. Analyse the job description (gives all the details of the job) and job specification (describes the individual that the employer is looking for)

Then pick out the essential requirements, duties, responsibilities, skills, location, keywords & phrases. Create a checklist of these and compare them with your resume.

 


 

3. Determine whether you can immediately see the critical requirements for the job on your resume

If you have left out any requirements, add some skills and knowledge that you genuinely have.


4. Use similar terms in your resume as the job advertisement 

Remember, your resume initially passes through the ATS. To pass this initial screening, you need to use standardised terms in your resume as used in the job advertisement. For example, if a Job role requires experience in “Performance Management” but in your resume, you have mentioned this experience as “Performance Appraisal”, it will not pass the initial screening. Therefore, it is better to change this term in your current resume to “Performance Management”.

 


 

5. Use your imagination to fill-up missing experience, knowledge and requirements

Think of similar experiences or transferable skills that you can include in your resume to reflect that you are the best fit for the position. According to the businessdictionory.com, transferable skills defined as abilities and knowledge acquired through personal experience such as schooling, jobs, classes, hobbies, sports etc. This covers, any talent developed and able to be used in future employment such as leadership, communication, listening, delegation, and prioritisation.

 


 

6. Begin your resume with an impressive Career Objective (Personal Summary/ Professional Summary/ Performance Summary) at the top midpoint of your resume.

Since this section is the first part that the recruiter reads and the best opportunity to grab the attention of the recruiter to the resume, it is essential to include all the relevant skills, experiences, knowledge, and achievements that best match the job description and job specification. You can do this using 3-5 lines in bullet form. If the most critical skills required by the employer cannot be viewed in your “Personal Summary”, recruiters will move to the next resume.

Make sure your target job title (professional title) and the applying job title is the same. For example: if you are applying for a job with a designation of “Human Resource Generalist” then put that particular title at the top of your resume.

 


 

7. Only include information that is relevant to the job

Do not mention that you are proficient in biological chemistry when applying for a Human Resource Management Job.

 


 

8. Create achievements relevant to the job

Some achievements may not be immediately relevant to the job, but skills that you got from the achievement or skills that you utilised for the achievement might relate to the skills needed by the employer. For example: If you have many achievements in sports, probably you would like to put your sports achievements in your resume even though you are applying for a Human Resource vacancy. Sports develop many transferable skills such as leadership skills, team spirit, confidence, focus, etc. You can highlight those skills with your sports achievements if the employer appreciates those skills.

 


 

9. Mention in your resume, if you are willing to relocate to a location near the job you are applying for. 

 


 

10. Focus on your achievements and use results-based language and avoid using task-based language

Employers do not want to see long lists of tasks and responsibilities that you have carried out. Employers want to know about your previous contributions and specifically how you have made a significant change in their company. According to the International Hellenic University Career Guidance, when you are writing a task that you have carried out, link that with an achievement such as saved money for the company, saved time for the company, contributed to excellent customer service, came up with a new idea that improved things, identified a problem and solved it etc.

Ask yourself three important questions:

What did I do?

So, what?

What was the quantifiable result?

Examples of Achievement Statements: Developed a new employee career guidance program which was adopted by all the branches of the company.

 


If you follow the above steps on tailoring your resume to a specific job, you will be able to pass the ATS evaluation and then impress the recruiter and secure your position for an interview.

 

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62 Comments

  1. I have to say that I’m a little surprised, and worried, about the use of this Applicant Tracking System on people’s resume before they actually get it through to the employers! 

    How long has this type of system been in use for – seems a little unfair when people are putting so much into finding the perfect job, doesn’t it?

  2. Great tips – as a manager I can safely concur with taking seconds to sift through the many applicants. What really wind’s me up is when the applicant has obviously just sent out a bunch of Resume’s without tailoring them – those go straight in the bin – can’t overstate the importance here.

    Never heard of the ATS system before, is this common place everywhere, or just some of the major institutions and big employers using it?

  3. Let me be very honest with you I have failed so many interviews for the sole reason that I didn’t know how to write a good resume and further to that i didn’t know the technic of writing one this blog is an eye opener and heaven sent to me and those like me who have no clue on how to write a resume .what has even suprised me even more is that they take less than 6sec to through a resume then poorly done resume has no fighting chance.

  4. I have to tell you that I never wrote a resume. I launched my first company after high school then I became a Forex trader. I only worked during school (between 13-19 yo.). 

    But I read your article and it seems very useful to those who are searching/applying for a new job.   

  5. These are great tips, Dudelie! I could’ve benefited from these had I seen them years ago with many resumes I filled out in previous years. 

    Now that I know a few things perhaps I can go back and apply these to resumes I fill out in the future? My favorite part is #4 when you mention using similar terms as it can affect ATS. By the way I was not even aware applications or resumes were read that way. 

  6. It’s been quite a while since I’ve done a resume and it was certainly before the internet came long!I know how important it is to get it right and also have a great cover letter as well.

    I was actually thinking of putting together a resume because although I’m retired but I may look for something part time to keep me busy.These are excellent tips for writing and putting together a resume!

    You only get once chance to make a first impression.I’d like to know: What is the biggest mistake to avoid?

  7. Hello,

    Great informational article!

    I did not know many resumes go through a robot first, this was a huge revelation, and it makes sense to then tailor resumes to specific positions. To be able to take a job description information and rearranging resumes pointing out and highlighting the common points. The concept can indicate that every job you’re interested in can be made to match your resume. This really excites me! Following your very doable tips I will always have the qualifications I need for any job I apply for!

    Thank you for your very insightful and relevant article!

    I bookmarked your site to return to for reference.

    Dwilli

  8. Thank you for this amazing article. I was really surprised actually. Never knew that nowadays software is used for doing proper selection of potential workers. It is amazing how this process evolved. You have to be more thorough and follow trends if you want to stand out. This is not easy but you give some valid pointers and tips. 

    Thank you for that. I am going to bookmark your website. 

    Strahinja

  9. Wish I could have read this article when I was job hunting. Although I know most of the suggestions, there is still somethings I didn’t know. I didn’t think I should mention that I could relocate for the job but should I have that included in my resume even if the job did not ask about it? I didn’t know most resumes are being reviewed by robots these days but this is good to know so we should be extra certain that all words are spell checked so the robots can find the keywords accurately. Thank you for making this article! 

    1. You can put either your entire address or your city and province/state. If the application needs to be sent via Registered Post, then you need to include your complete home address. If you are applying via email or an online platform, they will not contact you via your postal address. Recruiters want to know your location to make sure you are local.
      Sometimes, candidates tend to mislead the recruiter due to the fear of losing the position with regards to their location. Never lie, be honest and mention that you are willing to relocate.
      For Example, you can mention your address as “New Town, Edinburgh” and mention you are willing to relocate as “relocating to Westminster Borough, London in fall 2019.

  10. Thanks for coming to the rescue of many who find it difficult to write their resume, it is one major problems people face due to the nature of the job or the requirements and this tip you have given in tailoring one’s resume. I would love you to write more post on how write a cover letter 

  11. Thank you for sharing this great information. I currently looking for a better job and is been a long time since I applied for one, with this tips it will so much easier to write my resume and hopefully get accepted. I really like tip number 5 to used our imagination. Thank you again.

  12. Thank you so much for your words of wisdom. I’ll definitely share this with my students and use it myself next time I apply for a job.
    Keep up the good work!
    Bravo!

  13. Hello Silva,

    I never knew résumés are first screened by a robot. I had this bad habit of submitting the same résumé and only changing my cover letter. From your post I made understand that my résumé must be specifically written to soothe the needs of the employer.

    Thanks to you, I am now more adequately prepared in résumé writing and I’ll surely be sharing this post to my friends too.

    Would really appreciate if you could leave us a template.

    Thanks for writing

    Louis

    1. Hi, Thank you very much for your reply. Yes, many of us make the same mistake by forwarding the same resume without tailoring. I will be publishing more tips and a template for resume writing soon.

  14. You provide a lot of good advice, most of which I have tried to incorporate in my job searches over the years.  Most recently I have been working in China where mass marketing of my qualifications and experience is necessary.  There are several websites I have used to identify positions and apply.  Often they insist on a resume that tracks all your job experience from your first job ever in order to satisfy visa requirements, which I usually ignore until I get to the second step.  This goes back to 1965 for me. Also, when you just post your resume for anyone to see, it cannot be too focused, particularly when you are willing to work in a range of categories.  Generally when I apply to a specific ad from a website I get no response for 95 out of 100 applications.  When I do it is with an agent over skype or wechat who hasn’t even read my resume and I have to explain myself in two minutes, sometimes in Chinese, to move on to the next step. Someone has selected you based on the materials presented where they can check off the boxes, without having to think. 4 references – check, degrees, certificates, visas, passports, photos, everything tidy – check, check, check, etc. Usually when I realize I need a new job, I apply to 10-20 every day for 2-3 months or until I have landed a position.  Even at that point it is not over due to the unreliability of agents and employers.  A contract doesn’t mean anything in China. This has become more than a rant.  Your advice looks sound and should be applied when possible.

  15. I’ve discovered that a well-prepared resume really helps boost your chances of being hired or at least considered. while not a magic formula to a new job, a meticulously prepared, well-written resume with attention to detail, specific skills and strengths really helps a lot.

    As you said, adding career objectives and achievements does help.

  16. Recruiters only spend  6 seconds reviewing a resume! Everything is automated these days. I learn something new everyday.

    I’ll be graduating university is a few months so i have to sharpen up my resume skills.

    Thanks or your helpful tips and pointers. I had a little bit of an idea on resume writing but your informative article has dug deeper and opened my eyes.

  17. I don’t know how to thank you, I always have a problem in tailoring my resume, everyone I write, I personally find it not fit to submit, but now with this tips on your site I believe I will be courageous enough to write a quality resume that will satisfy the recruitment panel, I really appreciate thank you.

    from Joy gateru

  18. Hello,

    Actually I was really shocked. nowadays software is used for doing proper selection of potential workers. It is excellent how this process evolved. This is not easy but you give some valid pointers and tips. I currently looking for a better job and is been a long time since. thanks for providing it with us.

  19. This is an eye opener. I really need to work on my resume so that it conforms to the rules you mentioned in this article. Applicants must put into consideration what recruiters want before putting pen to paper to prepare a resume.

    Thank you so much for this piece. Now I know better. 

  20. These are excellent insights on how to write a proper resume. I like the guidelines that you’ve provided in here.

    I never knew resumes were sent to robots to scan through. I agree employers take a quick snippet of a resume. If they like it, they’ll contact you.

    I’m always big on the 80/20 rule, what do you think is the most critical piece that make up the resume when employers perform a quick scan?

    Thank you for this.

  21. A lot of people have gotten jobs that are more than their paygrades due to the way they structured their resumes. When I filled out my first resume, I am almost certain that one of the reasons I did not even get called for an interview was because I did not fill out the resume the right way. 

    I guess I did not do good research online to show me some guidance on how to write an effective resume. I do wish I had come across this post because you have laid out some really important information that should be included in a resume. These are really good advice and would be beneficial as I construct a new resume.

  22. Hi! This is really an interesting fact. I didn’t know there were stats concerning the average time a recruiter spent to decide if a resume can make it to the next stage (capturing his full attention). And I have fallen into this mistake: Creating one resume and sending out the exact same resume each time a company is recruiting. LOL

    I’ll stop doing that from here on. I’ll definitely tailor according to the companies requirements. Now that I have read your article, it makes perfect sense. And I ask myself why I hadn’t thought about this before. Thank you very much!

  23. Hey there Dudulie,

    thanks for such informative and detailed article, I found it to be very helpful and I’ve also enjoyed reading it and learning a lot of new and very useful things today! I have written few job resumes in the past, however I’ve never was really good at writing them and now when I look back at them and compare them to these step which You’ve analyzed and covered in Your article, I understand that I’ve done some significant mistakes when writing them unfortunately. One of the mistakes would be not filling-up few missing experience gaps, where I could use my imagination and think of some similar skills or experiences which I had in the past from bunch of activities in which I participated and include them in my resume. Another big mistake which I’ve done is including some irrelevant to the job information, like mentioning previous jobs which honestly would not have anything to the actual job which I was writing resume for. Oh, and I’ve also failed to mention that I am willing to relocate to the location near the actual job in needed. I will definitely visit this page once I will be applying for any job in the near future. Thanks to You article now I’m ready to write a perfect resume and maximise my chances of getting the job!

    Keep up the great work Dudulie and best of luck to You 😉

  24. Thank you

    I’ve never pay attention on  the cover letter on Resume, Because I’ve always thought of it as not really important.

    But After going through this article, I’ve learnt so much about how important to really emphasis on how important to market yourself for the recruiters out there. Thanks to you.

    About the number 3 point. I’m totally guilty of it because I’m not calm anytime i wanna write my Resume. The anxiousness in me would not allow me to see clearly. Right now, I’ll need bookmark this page for guideline when next i wanna write my resume again.Thank you so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  25. This is a very useful article for sure! There are so many ways to mess up a coverletter and resume!!

    I like how you give advice on making your skills fit the job even if you have not done that type of work in the past. Some skills are universal, which is great, but then there are the times when one must draw a link from thier skill to the position as you said. 

    I ran into a lot of this when I was creating my coverletter and resume for graphic design. I have been a cook for 25+ years, I had to tailor my skills and qualifications to suite the positions I applied for.

    No one in the design world cared that I was a sue chef, just to be clear lol. But they did like the fact that I am a team leader, and that I could work under preasure and not loose my cool with an ever changing canvas. 

    It is all in the words you choose and how much you really want the job you are applying for.

    Great read here, thanks again.

    Stacie

  26. This is a great post! I think the importance of writing your resume cannot be stated enough. It is also important to remember to update your resume as well. It is pretty crazy that your resume has 6 seconds to grab the recruiters attention.

    I think that tailoring your resume and cover letter for every single job application shows an employer that you will go the extra distance and pay attention to the small yet important details. Using the same words as the job advertisement is also a smart way to help you filter through because you will be an exact match for those words.

    I have always wondered what skills to put on your resume so its good to now that you can leave out less relevant qualifications in order to have a more targetted resume.

    If you do not have the relevant qualifications but have a great deal of experience, lower qualification or expertise in the same field should you still apply for the job?

    Thanks for sharing this helpful information!

  27. The irony of our time is that we apply to a specific job with a generic resume. We careless about the tiny details that matters to employers, some job seekers don’t even say the truth about themselves in resume anymore, they imagine all kinds of lies thinking that the employer will not see through it, that is stupidity on the part of job seekers.

  28. I must admit that I’ve never tailored a resume for a specific job. Now I see that this is where I messed up. I did receive a few emails back but nothing compared to how many applications I put in. Going forward, I’m going to implement some of these tips so that I can hopefully land my dream job. 

    Thanks for the tips! You’ve definitely opened my eyes.

  29. Dear Silva; I must commend you because this is quite informative, so many people has lost their dream job because they couldn’t package their resume. Resume is an avenue for you to sell yourself to your interviewer but so many dont seems to know. The article is very helpful and precise. Thanks for your indepth analysis and focus towards engraving young one to securing their dream jobs.

  30. Great tips! Your write up contains things that I didn’t know before now. In fact, in my current Curriculum Vitae, I have a long list of tasks that I carried out in my previous work places without adding how I used those tasks to add value, even though I actually did. 

    Thanks. 

  31. Great resume tips for job applicants. Using only six seconds to scan a job application resume is hard to take. This should be for big companies with so many applicants for few job openings. Your tip is very informative and will definitely help those who are looking for job. It seems to me that from your tips every job opening requires new resume which could be frustrating for someone to take such pain and not getting an interview.

    Thanks for sharing

  32. Hi,

    I would like to offer you comments  about the post you have submitted. 

     I really enjoyed reading it as I had to revamp my resume to apply for a job with the government. I wished I had read this before. I really liked your 4th rule when you talk about making sure that you use the same terms as in the job description to pass through the ATS. 

    Keep it up, you’ve done great work!

    Marie-Lou 

  33. Wow I never knew that companies and job agents used a software for sorting through applications. The tips you have are very thorough and easy to follow and I will definitely be applying it to my resumes. It was a great read and I learnt new things. Thank you for this wonderful post. 

  34. What a great article. It is to the point and very specific about the process on how to write a great resume that will stand out from the rest of the applicants.  I had no idea that the recruiters only spend a few seconds per resume before deciding if it’s worth giving it a more detailed review!  At that speed, it has to be very specific to what they are looking for. You have listed some great pointers on the steps someone needs to create such a great document that stands out! 

    In this day and age, someone has to be above the crowd to be recognized and this article gives them an advantage on how they can take advantage of a simple resume to be just that, a step above the rest!

  35. This is great information for me and a great guideline as I am about to apply for a job in Australia and the tracking system makes sense for employers and we have to adjust the information to give us the best opportunity. This will have saved me so much time 

    Thanks heaps

    Paul

  36. I have applied for at least 40 jobs since last December and did not get one, and I was wondering why. Now, after reading your article about the ATS process, I can see why. I wish I had seen your Golden Rules for Resume Writing before then. I like how you suggest to use similar terms in my resume to match the terms of on the job requirements. I thought that it was just enough to send the same resume, but thank you for teaching me something new: edit/adjust resume to the specific job role advertised.

  37. I used to update my resume every time I had a new job experience, and then send out (almost) same resume over and over again to different companies. 

    Now I finally understand what I have done wrong and which areas should I improve on. After all, the 6 seconds sounds really short if that is all I have to capture the recruiter’s attention. I really should make every sentence in my resume count.

    I have came across another post of yours about ATS and I am impressed by your knowledge in this area. Will bookmark your page for future reference. Thank you! 

  38. Applicant tracking system is the new software used by employers to access resume to know if that is what they actually want from the applicant and this software is really working. Thanks for sharing this information. It will definitely go a long way in helping me out while applying for any job.

  39. Hello,

    I’m kind of not reliable on the use of Application Tracking System for filtering resume, because if it’s efficiency. It may take some kind of human psychology to access job applicants which may need more than just the use of some applications or softwares. What’s your take on this?

    Have a nice day

  40. Hi Dudulie,

    Thank you for sharing this amazing article. 

    I never knew that nowadays software is being used to filter resumes to fit the demands of the business. It’s amazing how technology has evolved. As such, we have to be thorough in preparing our resume to tailor to the job requirement and this is not easy. l am glad you have laid out the steps to follow to make our job application more easy. I have  bookmarked your website for my reference.

    Best Wishes.

  41. I read this post with great enthusiasm. The author – Dudulie – focuses on writing great job resumes. He informs his readers that new software ( called ATS – Applicant Tracking System ) is now being used by major companies to scan a resume before it is read by a human. He calls this system a robot. I never knew about this until I read his post.

    If a job applicant passes the ATS, it goes to the person who looks at the resume. He points out that an applicant must grab the attention of the person reading the resume within six seconds. If it does not, it gets thrown away. I was familiar with the six second “rule”, but that’s all I knew after reading all of his post.

    Dudulie gives his readers tips on writing more effective resumes. For me his biggest tip is to tailor your resume to fit the job description, and not to put irrelevant experiences that do not fit the employer requirements. I wish I had this knowledge when I was sending out my resumes for jobs years ago.

    In my opinion, he has written a very informative and useful article. Anyone who reads this will rethink how they write a resume in the future.

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