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How To Tailor Your Resume To Any Job — A Comprehensive Guide

Updated: Jun 12

Given that I run a job board, I get to talk to recruiters from a lot of companies. One of my biggest takeaways from these conversations is how important it is to tailor resumes for the job.

Most people, and I do mean most people, simply attach whatever version of their resume they have and upload it to job boards. The same resume is circulated to every interested company, no matter what they’re looking for.

In fact, that’s one of the reasons why you cannot upload your resume to Simple Job Listings. If you want to apply for a job, we take you directly to the company’s page. This way, you get to read what they’re looking for.

I look at the sheer number of applications that we process and I can tell you, tailoring your resume isn’t just recommended, it’s absolutely essential.

how to tailor your resume for a job

And that’s what this blog post is about. It’s a comprehensive guide on how to tailor your resume effectively for any job.

Throughout this guide, you'll learn about understanding job descriptions, highlighting relevant experiences, modifying key sections of your resume, and utilizing appropriate keywords. We'll delve into tips and strategies that will help your resume pass through Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and grab the attention of hiring managers.

Whether you're a recent graduate entering the job market or an experienced professional seeking a career change, this guide is designed to give you the tools and knowledge needed to craft a compelling, job-specific resume.

So, let’s get started

How to tailor your resume to a job

Understanding the Job Description

The first step in tailoring your resume starts with a thorough understanding of the job description.

Honestly, It's surprising how many job seekers overlook this.

I’ve seen writers (whose resume is very much that of a writer) applying for editing jobs. I’ve seen React developers (who don’t know Angular, at all) applying for Angular developer roles where companies want at least two years of experience with the framework. It’s genuinely surprising.

A lot of candidates simply don’t read the job description. It’s an unfortunate fact.

The job description is far more than just a list of duties, responsibilities, and requirements - it's a roadmap to what the employer is looking for in an ideal candidate.

Every job description is filled with valuable clues about the skills, responsibilities, and qualifications the employer values most. It's essential to read and analyze the job description carefully. Look beyond the surface-level tasks and delve into the underlying competencies and qualities the role requires.

How to read the job description

Start by identifying the key skills mentioned in the job description. These could be technical skills, such as proficiency in a particular software, or soft skills like teamwork or problem-solving.

Make a list of these skills as you'll need them when refining your resume.

Next, note down the primary responsibilities of the role. These are the tasks you'll be expected to perform regularly. They provide a clear picture of what a typical day on the job might look like, and hence, what experiences and abilities you should highlight in your resume.

Lastly, focus on the qualifications section of the job description. These could include educational requirements, certifications, years of experience, or language proficiency. These qualifications form the baseline requirements for the role, so it's important that your resume reflects them.

Once you've gone through the job description (thoroughly) and highlighted the key skills, responsibilities, and qualifications, it's time to match them with your own.

This doesn't mean fabricating experiences you don't have, but rather, emphasizing those aspects of your career history that align with the job requirements.


For instance, if the job description emphasizes strong project management skills, look back at your own experiences.

Did you lead a team on a significant project? Did you coordinate tasks and timelines to meet a tight deadline? These are the types of experiences that would demonstrate your project management skills.

Similarly, if the job calls for a specific qualification that you possess, make sure it's prominently displayed on your resume.

Don't bury it in a long list of other qualifications; instead, place it near the top where it's easy to spot.

The goal here is to draw clear connections between what the employer is looking for and what you bring to the table.

The more closely your resume aligns with the job description, the more likely it is to catch the attention of the hiring manager or pass an ATS scan (We’ve got a great guide on beating the ATS here).

While it may seem like a time-consuming process, especially if you're applying for multiple jobs, understanding the job description is a vital step in tailoring your resume. It allows you to present yourself as the best-fit candidate, increasing your chances of being called for an interview.

In the following sections, we will delve deeper into how you can tailor each section of your resume to align with the job description.

Highlight Relevant Experiences

It is your experiences that differentiate you from other candidates, demonstrating your unique set of skills, knowledge, and competencies. But remember, it's not just about showcasing your experiences; it's about showcasing the right experiences.

Focusing on relevant experiences means highlighting those aspects of your career history that align directly with the job requirements. This may involve showcasing specific roles, projects, or achievements that demonstrate your ability to succeed in the job you're applying for.

So, how do you present these experiences effectively? Here are some strategies to help you:

  1. Use the Reverse-Chronological Format: Start with your most recent experience and work backward. This format is preferred by most hiring managers as it provides a clear view of your career progression.

  2. Incorporate Action Verbs: Start each bullet point with a strong action verb. This helps to create a dynamic picture of your capabilities. For instance, instead of saying "responsible for managing a team," say "managed a team of 10 employees."

  3. Quantify Your Achievements: Whenever possible, use numbers to quantify your achievements. This could involve percentages, dollar amounts, or other relevant metrics. For example, "increased sales by 20%" or "managed a budget of $500,000."

  4. Highlight Transferable Skills: If you're changing industries or don't have a lot of direct experience, focus on transferable skills. These are skills that can be applied to a variety of jobs, such as communication, leadership, and problem-solving.


To provide clarity, let's look at an example of how to adapt experiences to different job requirements.

Let's say you're applying for a job as a Project Manager. In your previous role as a Team Lead, you coordinated a project that was delivered on time and under budget. Here's how you might present this experience in your resume:

"Led a team of five to successfully complete a six-month project, delivering the final product 10% under budget and two weeks ahead of schedule."

Now, suppose you're applying for a job as a Sales Manager. You might adapt this experience to highlight your sales skills:

"As a Team Lead, collaborated with the sales team to understand customer needs, leading to a 15% increase in sales over the project duration."

Both descriptions highlight the same experience, but they are tailored to fit the specific job requirements.

Highlighting relevant experiences in your resume is not just about listing your past jobs and responsibilities. It's about carefully selecting and presenting those experiences that best demonstrate your suitability for the specific role you're applying for.

Tailor Your Resume's Summary or Objective

The opening section of your resume, often titled as a "Summary" or "Objective", is the first thing your recruiter is going to see and first impressions matter.

This concise paragraph should present a snapshot of your professional profile, showcasing your skills, experience, and career goals. However, to truly stand out, this section should be customized to align with the job requirements of each role you apply for.

A resume summary is typically used by experienced professionals. It's a brief statement highlighting your key achievements, skills, and qualifications. The purpose of a resume summary is to quickly show the employer why you are a strong candidate for the job.

On the other hand, a resume objective is usually preferred by entry-level candidates or those changing careers. It's a concise statement of your career goals, outlining what you hope to achieve in the role and what you bring to the table.

Regardless of whether you're writing a summary or an objective, the key is to tailor it to the specific job. This means referencing the job description, incorporating relevant keywords, and highlighting the skills and experiences that make you an ideal fit for the role.

Here are some strategies to customize your resume summary or objective:

  1. Refer to the Job Description: As mentioned earlier, the job description is your roadmap. Use it to identify the skills and qualifications the employer values most, and be sure to highlight these in your summary or objective.

  2. Use Relevant Keywords: Most companies use ATS to screen resumes. These systems are designed to identify specific keywords related to the job. By incorporating these keywords into your summary or objective, you increase your chances of passing the initial ATS scan.

  3. Be Specific: Avoid vague statements. Instead, focus on specific achievements, skills, or goals that align with the job requirements.


To illustrate, let's look at some examples of tailored resume summaries and objectives.

Example of a Tailored Resume Summary for a Marketing Manager position:

"Results-driven Marketing Professional with over 7 years of experience in the technology industry. Proven track record of developing and implementing effective marketing strategies, resulting in a 30% increase in customer engagement. Proficient in SEO, content marketing, and social media advertising. Seeking to leverage my skills and experience to drive growth at XYZ Company."

Notice how this summary incorporates keywords from the job description (like "SEO", "content marketing", and "social media advertising") and presents specific, quantifiable achievements.

Example of a Tailored Resume Objective for an Entry-Level Software Developer position:

"Recent Computer Science graduate with a strong foundation in Java and Python programming. Completed a capstone project on software development, earning a grade of 'A'. Seeking an entry-level Software Developer position at XYZ Company where I can apply my coding skills and passion for problem-solving."

This objective highlights relevant coursework, skills, and ambition, making it clear why the candidate is a good fit for the role.

Adjust the Education Section

For some job seekers, particularly recent graduates or those entering fields where specific degrees are necessary, the education section is crucial. In fact, it could be the deciding factor. For others, it provides an opportunity to further demonstrate relevant skills or knowledge.

Tailoring the education section requires a strategic approach, just like any other part of your resume.

To start, you should always include the basics: the name of your school, the degree you earned, and the date of graduation.

However, to make this section truly effective, consider the job's requirements and how your educational background meets or complements them.

Here are some strategies to tailor the education section:

  1. Prioritize Your Information: If you're a recent graduate with little to no work experience, your education section should come before your work experience. Conversely, if you're an experienced professional, your work experience should take precedence, and your education section should be positioned accordingly.

  2. Highlight Relevant Courses: If certain classes you took align with the job requirements, don't hesitate to list them. For instance, if you're applying for a data analyst role and you took courses in Statistics, Data Science, or Machine Learning, be sure to include these.

  3. Showcase Academic Achievements: If you graduated with honors or earned a high GPA, it's worth including in your education section. Likewise, if you completed significant projects or a thesis that aligns with the job requirements, these can also be highlighted.

  4. Include Certifications or Continued Education: If you've undertaken additional certifications or continued education relevant to the job, these should be included. This could range from a project management certification to a course in digital marketing.


Let's consider an example: You're applying for a job in graphic design, and you hold a Bachelor's degree in Graphic Design. Here's how you might tailor your education section:

"Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design | XYZ University, City, State | 2021

Graduated Cum Laude with a GPA of 3.7/4.0

Relevant Coursework: Advanced Graphic Design Studio, Digital Illustration, Web Design

Senior Project: Developed a branding package for a local business, including logo, website design, and marketing materials."

In this example, the candidate not only lists their degree but also highlights relevant coursework and a significant project that aligns with the job requirements.

Remember, the goal of tailoring your education section, like the rest of your resume, is to make it easy for hiring managers to see why you're a good fit for the job. By focusing on the aspects of your education that are most relevant to the job, you'll present a stronger, more targeted application.

Customize Other Sections

Beyond your work experience, education, and resume summary or objective, other sections can also be strategically customized to enhance your job application.

These could include volunteer work, certifications, languages, or even hobbies and interests.

When tailored correctly, these sections can provide further evidence of your skills, broaden your appeal, and show a fuller picture of who you are as a candidate.

Here are a few things that you could include:

  1. Volunteer Work: Volunteer experiences can be an excellent way to showcase your skills and qualities, particularly if you're a recent graduate or changing careers. They demonstrate initiative, community involvement, and often, relevant skills that can translate to the workplace. When listing volunteer work, treat it similarly to your work experience: include the organization's name, your role, the dates you volunteered, and any key responsibilities or achievements.

  2. Certifications: If you have any professional certifications that are relevant to the job, be sure to include them. This could be anything from a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification to a Google Analytics certificate. Certifications show that you've gone above and beyond to acquire specific skills or knowledge, making you more attractive to potential employers.

  3. Languages: If you speak more than one language, this can be a significant asset, particularly for jobs that require communication with international clients or colleagues. Be sure to list any languages you speak and your level of proficiency.

  4. Hobbies and Interests: While not always necessary, hobbies and interests can provide a personal touch and help you stand out. They can show another side of your personality, hint at soft skills (like being part of a sports team indicating teamwork), and potentially be a talking point in an interview.

Here are some strategies to tailor these additional sections:

  1. Highlight Relevance: Just like with your work experience and education, focus on the aspects that are most relevant to the job. For instance, if you're applying for a role in social work, highlight volunteer experiences related to community service or social issues.

  2. Use Action Verbs and Quantify Achievements: Be specific about your roles, responsibilities, and achievements in these sections. Use action verbs and, where possible, quantify your achievements.

  3. Be Honest and Accurate: While it's important to present yourself in the best light, it's also crucial to be truthful. Don't claim to be fluent in a language if you're only a beginner, and don't list a certification you haven't earned.


Let's look at an example for a job application for an international sales role:

Volunteer Experience

English Tutor, Local Community Center: Provided weekly English language lessons to newly arrived immigrants, improving their language skills and aiding their integration.


Certified International Sales Professional (CISP)


Spanish (Fluent)

French (Conversational)

Hobbies & Interests

Travel blogging: Run a successful travel blog with a focus on South American destinations.

In this example, each section adds value and relevance to the application. The volunteer experience demonstrates communication skills, the certification is directly related to the role, the language skills are beneficial for international sales, and even the hobby section hints at cultural awareness and writing skills.

How to use keywords in your resume

Before we get to the how, take this in:

75% of recruiters use an ATS (Applicant Tracking System). 99% of Fortune 500 companies use ATS. There are more stats on this than I want to go through.

Essentially, most companies that you apply for are using an ATS to filter candidates. And ATS selects candidates via a combination of experience, education, and keywords.

That’s why it matters.

Now, let’s look at how to incorporate keywords in your resume.

Identify the Right Keywords:

The job description is your best source for identifying relevant keywords. Look for repeated skills or qualifications, technical terms, specific software or tools, job titles, or any words or phrases that seem particularly significant. These are likely to be the keywords that the ATS and hiring manager are looking for.

Use the Keywords Naturally:

Once you've identified the keywords, you need to incorporate them into your resume in a way that feels natural and makes sense.

Don't just list the keywords - use them in context. This could be within your summary or objective, your work experience descriptions, or your skills section.

Use the keywords exactly as they appear in the job description, as the ATS may not recognize synonyms or acronyms.

Don't Overdo It:

While it's important to use keywords, don't stuff your resume with them. If it seems like you've included keywords unnaturally or excessively, it could turn off hiring managers and may even cause the ATS to reject your resume.

ATS can actually recognize what’s called ‘keyword stuffing’. When it does recognize that you’ve just used keywords for the sake of it, it’ll filter out your resume. So, carpet-bombing your resume with keywords is actually counter-productive.

Customize for Each Job Application:

Different jobs will have different keywords, even if they're similar roles in the same industry. This is because each company is hiring for its own unique reason and the job description usually reflects those reasons.

For example, a company might be hiring front-end developers to develop a new product. A company may also hire front-end developers to optimize their existing products. Both companies are hiring front-end developers but they’re looking for slightly different skills.

So, always tailor your resume for each job application, ensuring you're using the right keywords for each job.

Example of using keywords in your resume:

Let's consider an example: You're applying for a job as a Digital Marketing Specialist.

The job description mentions skills such as SEO, Google Analytics, content creation, and social media management.

Here's how you might naturally incorporate these keywords into your work experience section:

"In my previous role as a Digital Marketing Coordinator, I managed multiple social media accounts, increasing overall engagement by 40%. I also collaborated on SEO-optimized content creation, which resulted in a 30% increase in organic website traffic. I regularly used Google Analytics to monitor and analyze performance, using data-driven insights to guide our marketing strategy."

In this example, the keywords are used in context and demonstrate the candidate's experience and achievements related to these key skills.

Proofreading and Review

This is again one of those things that candidates don’t do enough of. If you change two words in your resume, read it again. If you change one word in your resume, read it again. If you’ve changed nothing in your resume, read it again.

Proofreading is one of the most important things when it comes to optimizing your resume.

You don’t want a recruiter to see a silly spelling mistake or a mismatch in your education. The fact is, there could be one tiny mistake in your resume and that mistake will stand out.

Here are a few tips that’ll help proofread your resume better:

  • Take a Break: Before you begin proofreading, take a break from your resume. This allows you to approach it with fresh eyes, making it easier to spot mistakes or areas for improvement.

  • Check for Clarity and Consistency: Ensure your resume is clear, concise, and consistent. This includes consistency in formatting, such as font styles and sizes, bullet points, and headings. Also, make sure your descriptions are clear and easy to understand. Avoid jargon or overly complex language.

  • Look for Common Errors: Pay special attention to common problem areas, such as homophones (words that sound alike but have different meanings, like "their" and "they're"), subject-verb agreement, and punctuation usage.

  • Read Aloud: Reading your resume aloud can help you spot awkward phrasing or run-on sentences. If something sounds off when you read it, it's worth revisiting.

  • Get Feedback from Others: Having someone else review your resume can be incredibly valuable. They may spot errors you've overlooked or offer suggestions for improvement you hadn't considered. Reach out to mentors, or professional contacts, or use a professional resume review service.

  • Use Online Tools: There are numerous online tools available that can help with proofreading. Grammarly, for instance, can catch grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. Jobscan can analyze how well your resume matches a job description, helping ensure you've effectively incorporated keywords.


The impact of a well-tailored resume on your job search cannot be understated. It not only increases your chances of getting past initial screenings but also shows potential employers that you're a serious candidate who has taken the time to understand the role and how your skills and experiences align with it.

Once you have the perfect resume, it’s time to start applying.

If you’re looking for remote jobs, make sure you check out Simple Job Listings. We only list remote jobs, most jobs we list pay amazingly well, and a significant number of jobs aren’t posted on any other website.

So, visit Simple Job Listings and find your dream remote job. Good luck!

Frequently asked questions:

Should you tailor your resume to the job description?

You absolutely should tailor your resume to the job description. I run a job board and I know for a fact that simply tailoring your resume to the job description will put you leagues ahead of most other candidates that are applying.

How to match my skills to the job description?

  1. Make a comprehensive list of skills that the job description mentions.

  2. Make a comprehensive list of skills that you have.

  3. The ones that match should go to the top of your skills in your resume

What are keywords in a job description?

Keywords are the important words or phrases that an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) is looking for in a resume. If you have enough keywords that match the requirements, you’re usually filtered into the next round of the selection process.

However, don’t overuse keywords because ATS can recognize them and will penalize your application for trying to trick it.

What is description alignment?

Description alignment is the process where you take your resume and edit it so that it matches the requirements of the job that you’re applying for.

One of the easiest ways to do this is by reading the job description thoroughly and then editing your resume so that you’re highlighting the skills, requirements, and experiences that the company is looking for.

What are the steps for tailoring a resume?

  1. Read the job description carefully

  2. Highlight relevant experience

  3. Write a customized resume summary or objective for the job

  4. Align your skills with the job description

  5. Highlight relevant courses and certifications

  6. Use the right keywords. Don’t overuse them

  7. Proofread and review your resume multiple times

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