Customize Your Resume to Get that Job


When you are looking for a job, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd.  You submit your resume and it seems to get lost somewhere in the huge pile of applications that they receive.  Is there a way to set your application apart so that it at least gets read by the employer?  The good news is; there is.  Customizing your resume and cover letter significantly increases your chances of getting a response:

It gets you through the applicant tracking system.  When you consider that most employers use automated screeners, it is absolutely critical that your resume passes the keyword test.   Otherwise the employer won’t even see it.  The employer will select a few keywords that represent essential requirements for the position.  Applications that contain those keywords will be pulled out and applications that don’t will be left behind.  When you customize your resume you identify those keywords and add them in, which significantly increases your chances of getting an interview.

It impresses the employer.  Now that you have managed to get someone to actually see your resume, it’s time to make a positive impression and a customized resume and cover letter will help you do just that.  The employer will be able to tell that you took the time to customize it for the specific position.  That alone communicates professionalism and enthusiasm for the job.  Also, when you customize your resume you are better able to draw the connection between your skills and the requirements of the position.

Some people are reluctant to customize their resume because they fear that it is too time consuming. However once you have a system in place, it doesn’t take much time at all.  Here are the steps to effectively customizing your resume and cover letter:

Carefully review the job description.  As you review the job description, pay special attention to statements or words that are repeated or emphasized.  This is the language that you definitely want to include in your resume and cover letter.

Modify your objective, skills summary, and work experience section.  Wherever possible, try to match the exact words that are in the job description.  This is how you can show the employer that you are the perfect fit for this position.

Personalize your cover letter.  Your cover letter is an amazing opportunity to convey passion for your work, make the connection between your skills and the position requirements, and address any questions or concerns that the employer may have about you.  By customizing your cover letter, you can maximize the effectiveness of this tool.

Yes, customizing is a little extra work, but in the long run it will actually save you time because you will receive a much higher response rate from your applications.

(Written by Karen Bivand, Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles at