The Importance of Tailoring Your Resume for the Job

Do you ever feel like you are sending your resume into a black hole?

The biggest mistake that many job applicants make is not tailoring their resume to the position they’re applying for. Customising your resume for every job is a surefire way of increasing your chances of getting noticed. With this, you can potentially land an interview and, eventually, the career you are working towards.

Many people don’t know that, often, human eyes don’t see resumes before they are sorted into the rejection pile. Online algorithms behind a job ad determine how many of the key words identified by the hiring manager are matched to your resume. It’s simple math. If your resume hasn’t been tailored to incorporate those key words in the ratios required, your resume will get dismissed. It is one thing to get the dreaded, “Thank you for your application, but…” email; it is another to know that your application may not even have been seen by a person.

Job seekers tend to develop a standard resume to be used when applying for all jobs. In theory, this document should be exchangeable between various kinds of jobs. A standard resume is useful, and the writing down your skills and experience is helpful. But, it is prudent to tailor your resume to match your achievements and experiences that are relevant to the job for which you are applying. Without a customised document, chances are an organisation or company will overlook you in favour of other applicants who are more patently obvious and – at least on paper – more compatible to the specific role.

But, how are you to know what a prospective employer is looking for?

Organisations will often advertise the position description and you should match your experience and achievements to what they’re looking for. You should look at the selection criteria and make sure you match it in your responses, including achievements to demonstrate your capability for the role.

You should call the hiring manager or officer (you may need to do a bit of digging to find out who that is) and ask them specifically what they’re looking for. This will also give you an opportunity to develop a rapport with the hiring manager that perhaps others won’t have, and you may even find out things that were not mentioned in the ad that you can directly address both on the phone and in your application. Make sure you have a handful of stories of achievement that corresponded with what they’ve written in the ad, to float out during your conversation.

In the same way that a new graduate can develop their resume to fit the job description even though they don’t have much previous experience, you should play up your achievements and skills that relate to the position, or that are transferable, even if they were gained in non-paid employment or other aspects of your life (such as sport teams, charity work, internships, or volunteer committee work).

When submitting your resume, organisations assess your hard skills, soft skills and leadership skills. They want to determine if you are a suitable candidate and can greatly contribute to the success of the company. Networking abilities are valued by employers as well. You might be more appealing to them if you participated in community programs or activities.

But, isn’t it too time-consuming to tailor every single application and resume?

If you have a good master resume, updating your resume for a particular role should take less than a couple of hours – when you consider that you need to review the ad and the position description, call the hiring manager, ensure the achievement stories in your resume best demonstrate your capability for this role. There’s also the need to draft a suitable cover letter.

And while this may seem like an onerous process, consider the alternative – if you simply submit generic applications to each potential job, it will take you longer to find the right job, or even get a callback. Putting in the hard yards from the start will generate results quicker.

By putting the time and effort in up front, not only will you give yourself a better chance of getting and interview for the job of your dreams, but you will also be starting your preparation for the interview. And we all know what’s good about preparation!

If you would like to know more about tailoring your resume or are seeking assistance with your job search, contact Jo Attard ( PeopleEdge program will help you be the best that you can be.