Why Must I Tailor My Resume - Again!?!

Job seekers tend to develop one resume and treat it as a one size fits all document.  This can work if you only apply to one particular position or role at identical companies with identical requirements and duties.  If you only applied to be a police officer, a 5th grade English teacher, or any other specific position that never changed you may get away with one resume but that limits your job search significantly.   More than likely, however, you will be applying for multiple different types of positions with very different requirements.  Each job will require its own specific resume.

It Sounds Harder Than It Is!

The best way to start is to find a job announcement that interests you.  Read it objectively and do an honest self-appraisal.   Look hard at the person in the mirror!   If you genuinely believe that you fit the job and truly understand at least most of the job requirements, copy and paste the requirements onto a Word document. 

Read through each requirement and determine how you would categorize it.   For example, an executive assistant job announcement may have a requirement like “Maintains the database of client’s phone numbers, calling clients to schedule appointments and billing.” After reading this requirement, you may decide to categorize it as “Office Management.” Other requirements may sound more like “Communications”, “Organization”, or “Training”. 

Break all of the requirements into 5-6 appropriate categories.  When you are done breaking the requirements down, you will notice that some categories will have more than others.  Office Management may have 5 associated requirements while training only has one.   This will help you to see how the job announcement was prioritized.  

Come up with a brief and quantifiable example of how you fulfill each category.  For instance, the requirement “Maintains the database of client’s phone numbers, calling clients to schedule appointments and billing” can be met with “Maintained a data base of 200 clients’ contact information, scheduled appointments and ensured their billing deadlines were met.”  If you are doing this in a functional resume, this line would go under the heading “Office Management.”  In a chronological resume, ensure this line is placed under the appropriate work histories.

A Relevant Resume Sets You Apart

Job announcements are developed based on position descriptions and specific needs.  The job announcement explains what the employer wants from the potential new employee (YOU!).  

Make it clear that you have the required knowledge, skills, and abilities quickly!   Address key requirements in the top 2/3rds of the first page.   If the job requires an education or if you have an education that is relevant to the job, make sure that you place the “Education” information at the top.   If you are applying for a RN position at a local hospital, your nursing credentials should be one of the first things that stand out on your resume.  

Do not waste the critical top part of Page 1 on anything that is not relevant!  If you are applying for an assembly position, your Bachelors in Nursing is interesting but less relevant.   You can put this information at the bottom.   This demonstrates that you have an education but that you do not define yourself as a nurse.   It can turn employers off if you define yourself as something other than the job for which you are applying. 

Writing resumes can be time-consuming and frustrating but take your time to do it right.  When a job announcement really meshes with your skill set, it will flow.  Remember to ask for help.   A second set of eyes can help you to see errors that you missed.  A well-tailored resume that matches the right job announcement will greatly increase your odds of getting an interview!


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Advice by Ben McQuerry, US Navy Retired, Veteran Employment Services Counselor, Still Serving Veterans, Huntsville, AL, bmcquerry@ssv.org