Thought everyone might be interested in why and how we tell our candidates to tweak their resume to a specific job we are submitting them for.  

How many versions of your resume do you have? Most people would say, “Well, I have one, how many do I need?” The answer is that unless you are truly a one-trick pony, then you likely should have a few different versions of your resume to highlight various aspects of your skill set. For senior level and executive level candidates, it is difficult to encapsulate a long career of experience and skills in a resume. People taking the correct approach build their resume from a high level perspective, and that is fine for your basic resume.  As you begin to become active in your job search and are applying to specific positions, some specific changes need to be made.

When applying to various jobs, it is important to re-write or tweak you resume to speak specifically to the job for which you are applying. It is not enough to have a template for a cover letter and resume where you replace company XYZ for job XYZ. It is imperative to highlight specific accomplishments or job functions within your resume that directly pertain to what the job description is asking for. The reasoning behind this is simple, really. Think of your resume as your calling card, your billboard, or your 30 second commercial in which you are trying to “sell” yourself to the hiring manger. The optimal outcome would be that the hiring manager reads your resume and says, “I need to talk to this person.” 

So how do we make that happen?  For starters, understand the hiring manger’s point of view. Often, they are extremely busy and even though they know they must add additional resources, seldom are they able to devote enough time to the process.  Once the hiring manger gets to read your resume, you want positive feedback. This is best accomplished by crafting your resume in a concise but specific method ultilizing a bullet point format. This allows the reader to go down a checklist of your skills, if you will. If the hiring manger can read each bullet point quickly and say, “I like that,”  “that’s a good skill,” or “that is something I need,” in thoughts literally as brief as these.  Then the next step will be to go ahead and schedule the initial conversation.

With this goal in mind, think about how the resume should read. It needs to speak directly to each bullet point or requirement listed within the job description. The best way to do this is to sit down with the job description next to your resume. As you read through the job description, look at your resume and ask yourself what have you accomplished or been responsible for that speaks to that specific requirement. Now don’t think this will require wholesale changes. The truth of the matter is that if you are applying for positions that you are truly qualified for, then the resume should already contain many of these components. Not every job is the same, and each one you apply to will likely draw on different experiences from your “professional tool kit.”

This will require a bit of time and effort, on your part, to complete. However, this is an extremely effective method of getting your resume noticed, showing you are serious about your job search, and willing to put in the extra effort needed to be successful. I think we can agree employers are looking for these qualities.

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Comment by Jennifer Olsen on February 6, 2012 at 6:16pm

You are right on advising applicants to tailor their resumes for each job and having a variety of resumes from which to start your tweaking process. I really like the use of bullets and columns or charts on resumes. It makes the information easy to glance at to determine if you want to read the details. I always appreciate when a potential employee is sensitive to my needs and my time. I offer more resume writing tips and information about what a hiring manager is likely to be looking for in my blog, "Distinguish Yourself – Resume Writing Tips for Job Seekers" (


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