How To Tailor Your Resume to the Job Description

woman applying for job

How many times have you applied for a job only to be met with dead silence? How often have you frantically refreshed your email waiting for a reply that doesn’t come? The job search process can be a difficult and frustrating one.

When applying for a job, it’s important to have a professional, well-written resume that is sure to stand out to hiring managers. The way to capture the interest of your future employer is through a targeted resume. What is a targeted resume? It’s simple. Targeted resumes are tailored to the specific job you are applying for. They are written to highlight the skills, experiences, and achievements that are most relevant to that particular position.

If you submit your basic, standard resume to each and every job opening you apply for, chances are you won’t even hear back for an interview. Hiring managers are looking for very specific things in your resume and want to see how you’re the right fit for this job opening in particular. They need to see experience and skills that directly correlate to the ones needed for the specific role they are hiring for. If your resume isn’t tailored to the position you’re applying for, you aren’t giving yourself the best possible shot at landing the job.

In another blog, we explained the importance of hiring a professional resume writing company. When you partner with Capstone Resume Services on your resume, you’re getting a professional resume that is customized to your industry and tells the complete story of your work history, skills, and accomplishments. And while the resumes we write are tailored to you, they aren’t tailored to a specific position. So before you submit your resume, you’ll need to tweak it to ensure you’re giving the hiring manager what they are looking for.

What to Tweak In Your Resume

So, where do you start? With the job description, of course! Read it thoroughly several times and take notes on the key requirements and necessary credentials. Make note of what responsibilities and skills are mentioned first. Those are the ones you should focus on. Then, go through your resume and tweak your experiences and skills to speak to those requirements. 

Remove any skills that aren’t relevant for the position and only include those that are listed. Also be sure your skills list starts with those the recruiter will be most interested in and can quickly see on a first scan.

To stand out, it’s also important to research the company to get a feel for its brand and culture. Then, you can reverse engineer how you present yourself to align with the company’s mission and vision. Is the company very formal and professional or very casual and laid-back? Knowing this information can really help you to strategize how to most effectively present yourself in a resume and a cover letter. Don’t underestimate the power of research!

Highlight Your Employment History 

Many hiring managers look at your employment history to determine if you are qualified for the position. Be sure to edit and tweak your employment experience to clearly show you have the necessary qualifications. Don’t stretch or rework the truth, but be sure to describe your experiences in a way that highlights the tasks and achievements that most closely match with the job you’re applying for.

Make sure all relevant qualifications are at the top of your experience section so that they stand out. Identify the things in your resume a recruiter would be most interested in and make sure they are at the top of your resume. After all, the average recruiter only looks at a resume for 6 seconds. You need to make the most of that limited time! And, don’t worry if it’s not the most recent experience you’ve had. In order to effectively tailor your resume, you must identify what is the most important for this particular job and push that in the most effective way possible.

Also, don’t forget to showcase the impact you’ve had at every position. Add a bullet-point to each employment history section that highlights how you’ve helped your prior team and company thrive. The best way you can do so is by using numbers, percentage points, or tangible language that can quantify your efforts. Overall, employers understand that individuals can perform a certain job, but they wonder whether they can perform it well enough to affect the growth and success of the company. 

Use The Right Keywords & Check for Typos

You’ll also want to pay close attention to the keywords included in the job description. If these same keywords aren’t in your resume, chances are you won’t be flagged as a potential candidate by the applicant tracking system. Be sure to sprinkle them throughout your resume strategically so that they flow naturally.

The best way you can research the right keywords is to look through your top job descriptions and write down all the words that stand out. Do certain keywords repeat in all of the job descriptions? If so, definitely use them! You can also make a tag cloud to see which keywords describe your resume’s current essence, and use that information to better target and highlight other more powerful words. 

The last step? Proofread! You’ll want to read over your resume carefully to check for errors. The more changes you make, the more opportunities for typos arise. Hiring managers likely won’t continue reading if they spot a typo. Why? Because it usually signals lack of attention to detail and inability to be thorough with your work. It speaks volumes on how you would approach your work at the job and how much effort and care you place on your important projects. 

Another good way to check that your resume is effectively tailored to the position you’re applying for is to have a friend or family member read it over to see if they can clearly see why you’re applying for the job just from reading the resume.

Update Your Certifications, Training, and Tech Knowledge

To ensure you are up to date with your industry’s skills sets, don’t forget to mention if you’ve taken any relevant online courses, attended key conferences, or have undergone skills training. Since technology changes quickly, employers want to ensure that their new hires understand new technology and can adapt to tasks and processes quickly. 

If you feel your skills are a bit rusty and need to be updated, there are many courses and certifications you can finish even within a day in order to upgrade your resume for more leverage.

To see which technical skills are the most desired in your profession and specifically in your desired role, you can look through your favorite job postings and write down which technical skills are not only required but preferred. By showcasing that you have the bonus skills preferred for the position at hand, you will stand out amongst the competition!

Improve the Layout and Design of Your Resume

Design is the essence of branding, and as a candidate, how you present your professional experience is your brand. This is exactly why the design and layout of your resume can speak volumes about your personality, how you express yourself, and your eye for details and aesthetics. From the colors you choose to the way you present your skills visually, your resume design is vital in making that first impression and helping you stand out. 

Long gone are days when a resume looked like it was typed on a typewriter. With so many possibilities to design a unique resume with the availability of online templates and stylized options, adding personality to your resume has never been easier and more accessible without professional assistance. 

Imagine that tired recruiter that is scanning resumes the whole day, looking for relevancy and any information and features that stand out from the crowd. And then there is your resume – easy to scan, a feast for the eyes, and well-formatted for clarity. That’s exactly the effect you want to have on recruiters during your job search. 

Research the Company’s Problem and Offer a Solution

Undeniably, what most companies seek from candidates is someone who can ease their pain by providing the right solutions. Most hiring is done from a place of lack – the lack of growth, creativity, order, and effective solutions. That’s exactly where you come in. Your resume is not about you but about what you can do for your dream company. 

When you read a job description, try to identify the few main problems that this role is created to solve. Then, use your resume and cover letter to show how you can solve these specific problems. Showcase examples of past problem-solving, creativity, and ability to think outside of the box to find solutions. 

Also, don’t forget to highlight your soft skills. The cover letter is the perfect medium for this. It is a place where you can tell your story, present your uniqueness, and talk about how your problem-solving can be an asset to the company in more detail. Think of your application as a value proposition of what you can bring to the table professionally. 

Resume Tailoring Checklist

Resume Tailoring Tips

To narrow down all the tweaks that will upgrade your resume and get you multiple interviews, here is a checklist summary to follow:

  • Read the job description and take notes
  • Research the company
  • Tweak your experiences and skills to match the job requirements
  • Make sure the most relevant information is at the top of your resume
  • Be sure you are using keywords found in the job description in your resume
  • Proofread for typos, errors, and flow
  • Ensure the layout is easy to read and designed for clarity and visual appeal
  • Have someone read it over to ensure the value you would add to both the position and company is clear
  • Showcase the value you brought to your past work experiences by presenting numbers, percentages, and concrete scenarios that signal growth 
  • Take a week to upgrade your technical skills so that you can stand out from the crowd
  • If you’re in the creative industry, ensure that your portfolio and social media channels are easy to find and access
  • Is your resume tailored to the problem the company wants to solve? If it is geared toward your skills and not how you can apply those skills to add value, make sure you rephrase your resume messaging


Now that your resume is tailored to the job you’re applying for, you’ll want to add a tailored cover letter to accompany your resume. The skills and experience that best match the job requirements should be highlighted in your cover letter. This is your opportunity to tell the hiring manager why you’re the right fit for the job and why they should consider you for the next step.

If your job search has stalled and you haven’t had an interview in a while, it may be time to start tailoring your resume. Submitting a resume that is tailored to the job description and job you’re applying for will only help your chances of landing the dream job – or at least an interview. So, what are you waiting for? Start tailoring!