Does Your Resume Lack Focus? How to Tailor it to Your Dream Job

by Beverly Harvey

⇒ Can the readers of your resume discern – by glancing at it for just a few seconds – what you want to do in your next job and the most important selling point(s) you bring to that job?  If not, you’ve committed the blunder of an unfocused resume.

To ensure a sharp focus, you will likely need to create a couple of versions of your resume, building one or more boilerplate versions that you then customize to each specific position. That doesn’t mean you have to rewrite your resume for each opening, but you do need to tweak it and focus it toward the specific opportunity to show that you are a fit for any vacancy to which you send your resume. You’ll be moving things around, adjusting words and phrases, and adding a focus and dimension to your resume that will make both hiring managers and applicant-screening software programs take notice.

By tailoring your resume to each job, each employer, you’ll appear better qualified – and a better fit – than those job seekers who do not tailor their resumes.

Your resume must be a collection of accomplishments and achievements from your previous work experiences. If your resume is simply a rehash of job duties and responsibilities, no amount of tailoring will help. Presenting your value proposition, skills, accomplishments, qualifications, and other selling points in the best light possible will all come more easily if you have in mind an overall focus for your resume.

The result should be a resume that illustrates your accomplishments in terms that the employer understands, showing how your achievements and qualifications match directly to the requirements and job description of the job you seek.

A broad overview of the steps to a focused, tailored resume follows:

Step 1: Search online for job listings for the job you seek. Once you’ve gathered at least five of these job postings, analyze the common qualifications each employer seeks. Modify your basic resume with this new information, especially keeping note of keywords and phrases and industry jargon/ buzzwords.

Step 2: Once you are ready to apply to job postings, review the job descriptions and required qualifications and make edits to your resume – especially the executive summary. Next, to portray your accomplishments, draw from the wording the employer uses to describe the ideal candidate. Your result should be a resume that mirrors the requirements the employer seeks. Another effective method for branding yourself is with the filename of your resume. Save your resume with the employer’s name in the file name, such JackGreeneResume-Apple. Or include your name and a brief branding label – such as “JackGreene–SupplyChainExecutive.”

Step 3: Nothing resonates more with a hiring manager than reading a resume that uses phrasing that mirrors language used by the employer. A very simple way to add an extra level of effectiveness to your resume is judiciously modifying some of the ways you describe yourself and your experiences using some of the same words and phrases the organization uses to describe itself. (Don’t go overboard here; employers are turned off if you copy and paste huge hunks of job descriptions into your resume).

For example, a job seeker applying for a position with the Walt Disney Company might include words such as “magic,” “dreams,” “innovation,” “excellence” in describing himself or herself.

Spend some time on each prospective employer’s website – and/or review any organizational literature. You’ll want to seek out common words the employer uses to describe its culture, organizational philosophy, and employees. Some employers have amazingly rich career/job sections on their corporate websites that go into great detail about organizational values, culture… and some even include quotes and testimonials from current employees. Take some of the words each employer uses to describe itself and its employees and use those words on your tailored resume.

Step 4: Turn to your network and find leads to people who work in the field – and, ideally, people who work for your targeted employers. If possible, schedule informal discussions or informational interviews so that you can glean even more insider information – and ideally additional insights and keywords that you can use to again modify and sharpen your tailored resume.

There is no excuse to EVER send a generic, untailored resume to a recruiter or employer. Not only will it be a great waste of your time, but you’ll continue to be frustrated with your lack of results. Tailoring your resume is as simple as outlined in this post – and the time and effort to conduct the research you need to dramatically improve your resume is minimal when compared to the better results you’ll get.


If tailoring your resume makes you uncomfortable, or you simply don’t have time,
consider working with us to manage the process for you.

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