CareerBuilder Menu Search Search

Tailor Your Résumé Without Starting From Scratch

Anthony Balderrama, CareerBuilder.com writer

  • Email

Job hunts are hard work. Looking through job ads, going on interviews and networking take up a lot of your time. So how can you be expected to do all these things and still rewrite your résumé every time you apply for a job?

Well, you are expected to because generic résumés don't impress anybody and surely won't land you a job.

Luckily, you don't have to start with a blank page each time you want to send out your résumé. The key is to edit and rearrange your existing résumé so that it appeals to the employer and saves you time. To make the process a little easier, we've listed some tips for you.

Keep track of your accomplishments.
Rearranging and editing your qualifications is simple if you keep a running list of your accomplishments and skills as you accrue them.

Keep an updated list of specific work accomplishments and outcomes you've achieved to make targeting your résumé easier, suggests Dave Gammel of High Context Consulting. As you take on additional roles or lead projects, "create a spreadsheet with the outcomes, job title and employer, plus any other info you want to track them with."

Read carefully.
Applying for a job requires careful reading of the job posting. Many job seekers simply submit a generic résumé and fill out the application as though employers will be happy to have someone apply. The truth, however, is that they don't want to hire just anybody – they want the perfect fit. If you send a résumé that shows how your qualifications mirror the requirements on the posting, you'll grab their attention.

The easiest way to do this is to sort through your list of accomplishments and decide which ones are relevant to the position. Once you've established your top accomplishments and skills, use them as the foundation to build your résumé, Gammel says.

The rest of the résumé will fall into place because some of the information cannot be deleted or altered. For example, your education history is going to be the same regardless of where you apply, but it might be at the top of one résumé and at the bottom of another. Depending on how important it is compared to your skills and experience, you can simply drag the information and drop it in place.

Start strong.
In your career summary or career objective, include the job title that's listed on the posting, suggests Kevin Donlin, author of "The Simple Job Search Manifesto."

The "key is to make the first words on your résumé match the title of the advertised job. This creates an instant rapport between you and the hiring manager," Donlin says. If you have experience in that position, it can put the reader in the right frame of mind to view the rest of your résumé as a convincing case to consider you for the job.

Be a pack rat.
Each time you submit a résumé that's tweaked a little from a previous version, save it as a different file and note what job it went with. Yes, you'll end up with several copies, but as you read new postings, refer to similar résumés you have on file so you have less to edit. You might be able to make some very minor adjustments before submitting it.

Although altering your résumé each time you apply for a job can be frustrating – or just plain boring – it's a necessary step to landing an interview and ultimately a job. One of the benefits of tailoring your résumé is that it allows you to assess how much of your background and skills will be utilized in the position, perhaps giving you a good idea if it's the kind of job you actually want.

 "Putting a bit of extra effort can pay off big time and is very reasonable when trying to find a position that is going to occupy most of your waking hours!" Gammel declares.


Anthony Balderrama is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com. He researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.


Last Updated: 09/04/2008 - 10:47 AM


Article Reprints
Permission must be obtained from CareerBuilder.com to reprint any of its articles. Please send a request to reprints@careerbuilder.com.