How to Target Your Resume – Tips to Make Your Resume Stand Out

How to Target Your Resume – Tips to Make Your Resume Stand Out

Are you wondering why you keep applying for jobs and never get contacted for an interview? Not targeting your resume to the job that you’re applying for may be the reason that this is happening to you. More often than not, your job application is being screened by a computer system and/or a recruiter before it even reaches the hiring manager. This means that if you’re not tailoring your resume to the job requirements, the hiring manager may never even see it!

What Is a Targeted Resume?

A targeted resume focuses on the specific job opening that you are applying for by tailoring your resume to the job posting requirements. The reason that you do this is to make it as clear as possible that you are qualified for the position that you are applying for, which makes it easier for the hiring manager to call you in for an interview. In a targeted resume, the skills and experiences that you have that are most relevant to that particular position are highlighted. This means you will need to edit or revise your resume for each job application BUT that doesn’t mean that you have to take a lot of time to do this. I work with my clients to create a “master” resume that is in an easily editable format and includes all applicable work experience. Then, when they apply for a specific position, we work off of that master resume and tailor it to the specific job opening.

Targeted resumes often include:

  • a job-specific resume title
  • a branding statement that speaks to the needs of the specific position and employer
  • an experience section with naturally-integrated keywords found in the job posting. NOTE: This is a critical step when applying for any job in which your application is being input to a screening system and/or is being screened by human resources and/or a recruiter

Start by Creating Your Master Resume

A master resume is a comprehensive resume that you can edit as needed for specific jobs. When you are ready to apply for a specific position, you can pull out your specific experience that relates to the potential job opening.

The main sections of your master resume could include the following:

  • Heading (name, email, phone number and links to online profiles)
  • Skill section (technical competencies and level of expertise). The skill section should include key words that recruiters are looking for and provide a succinct summary of what you know how to do
  • Project section that give concrete examples that illustrate your skills
  • Work history that relates to the job (include details, accomplishments (results!) and achievements)
  • Certifications
  • Systems Knowledge
  • Education is where you should list any formal degrees and relevant courses
  • Honors and Activities section should include awards, publications, presentations and interests. These will give you extra brownie points with a potential employer.

Include all of the applicable sections and corresponding information in your master resume. When you’re creating your master resume, you want to include everything possible so that you have it in one place – you will be more selective when devising your targeted resume.

Pro Tip: If you are seeking to change careers, a summary statement, projects, internships, volunteer experience and all the other amazing things you do in your free time can be huge signifiers of a genuine interest and experience level for the positions you’re looking for; you’ll want to have these noted on your master resume as well.

How to Target Your Resume to a Specific Opening

Here are the basic steps to take to target your resume to a specific job opening.

  1. Start with the job posting. Your goal is to make sure that you have a strong understanding of the position and what the employer is looking for in an ideal candidate.
  2. Review the job posting and ask yourself the following questions:
  • What are the basic (core) qualifications for this position?
  • What are the preferred qualifications for this position?
  • What keywords are used (especially the ones that are used repeatedly)?
  • Are any technical skills highlighted?
  • Are any soft skills mentioned?
  1. Once you’ve completed #2, you’re ready to edit your master resume to the specific opening
  • Use language that reflects what is used in the job posting. (Example: if the job posting emphasizes a specific computer system that you have experience with, make sure that you have that on your resume)
  • Emphasize the portions of your work history that would be valued in this specific opening. (Example: if the job that you’re applying for requires 10 years of sales experience, make sure that you emphasize that (10 years and the results) and remove the areas on your resume that don’t apply to this specific opening)
  • Integrate key words or phrases from the job posting into your resume
  1. Review your targeted resume and ask yourself these 2 questions:
  • “Have I targeted my resume enough to clearly match the requirements of this position?”
  • “Have I made it easy for the recruiter and/or hiring manager to understand why I’m qualified for this position and that they should want to meet me?”

Pro Tip: Take the time to proofread your resume before submitting it – this is always important, but even more so when you’re targeting your resume because you are constantly editing and revising. I always recommend that you have someone else look it over as well so that you have a fresh set of eyes reviewing it as your resume is a first impression!

What questions do you have about how to target your resume? Leave your question in the comments below!