How to Use the Job Description to Customize Your Resume

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Whenever you apply for a job, you should always tweak your resume to make it suit the position. This might be tedious, but it’s not a step you can afford to skip since generic resumes never do well. How do you know if your resume is relevant to the job? The best way to tailor it is to take your cues from the job description. Need help customizing your resume? Let a professional resume writer help

1. Have you read the entire job description?

How often do you catch yourself reading the title and the little summary underneath it and moving on to the next vacancy advertised because you don’t think this job is a good fit for you? The title of a job posting can be ambiguous as different companies may have different terms for the same position. Don’t rely on the title alone to determine if the job’s a fit. Also, the summary offers some information, but not much. If you stop at the title and the summary, you may be passing up prime opportunities.

So, read the entire job description! Look at what the role entails, the necessary skills, the managers, and the salary. Before you consider applying, research the job as much as you can, including by perusing the company’s website and browsing reviews from current and former employees. That said, it starts with the job description, so don’t shortchange yourself by not reading it through.

2. Do your skills match those in the job description?

Compare your skills section with the skills listed in the job description. You should be using the same keywords on your resume because that will help it get past applicant tracking systems (ATSs). These programs look over resumes and toss into the cyber-abyss any that don’t appear to match the role. If you don’t tailor your resume for the ATS, you’ll never get to the hiring manager. The job description will reveal the right keywords—they’ll appear as bullet points, bolded or italicized, or distinguished from the rest in some other way.

What if you don’t possess all the skills listed in the job description? That’s totally fine. Hiring managers look for exceptional, not perfect candidates (because perfect candidates don’t exist). Even if you don’t boast all the skills listed in the job description, as long as you show your willingness to learn, the hiring manager may still be interested in your resume. Don’t give up hope just because your skills don’t match perfectly. Obviously, you need to have many of those listed, and some skills may be essential, but you certainly don’t need to possess every single one.

3. Does the compensation reflect your qualifications?

As you compare your resume with the job description, consider the skills needed and what you’ve listed on your resume. Is the salary appropriate for your talents? Take the time to compare salaries for similar roles to ensure you’re fairly compensated for your qualifications. If you end up landing a poorly paying job, with your peers at other companies earning far more for doing similar work, you’ll quickly become disgruntled.

However, you’ll want to avoid making yourself look too good on your resume lest you be deemed overqualified. Keep in mind the level you’re applying for and showcase your abilities accordingly. If you demonstrate a higher level of qualifications than the job requires, you may intimidate the recruiter and fail to get hired. Hiring managers don’t want to feel pressured to pay you more because you are overqualified. 

If you feel the pay is satisfactory, tweak your resume to avoid coming across as overqualified. In case you are overqualified, consider omitting some of your skills or accomplishments to tone your resume down a little.

4. Are you willing to relocate for the job?

When considering candidates for a job, hiring managers want to know right off the bat if they’re willing to relocate (if necessary) or commute long distances every day. Consider the location of the job and whether it works for you. If you’re willing to relocate, specify that on your resume; otherwise, find another job. If you’re ready to move to another city, state, or even country, the company may be able to reimburse you for your moving expenses, but it depends on the company and the circumstances.

5. What is highlighted in the job description?

As you read through the job description, you can figure out what’s most important to the employer based on what’s highlighted. Some sections may be bolded, or something may appear in all caps—these are things you want to be aware of. If it’s important to the employer, it should be important to you and therefore emphasized on your resume. 

6. Is this a job you will enjoy doing?

If you think you’ll hate the job, you shouldn’t apply for it. Of course, with any job, you will have days that are draining and make you want to quit, but on the whole, if you can see yourself sticking to this job over the long term, then move forward with writing your resume. 

If you’re not passionate about the day-to-day work involved in the position, make sure you have another compelling reason for applying. Is it an important step in your career? Do you need the pay increase to support your family? If you’re excited about this new job opportunity, demonstrate that excitement in your resume, especially in your professional summary. 

7. Do you have connections in this field?

Connecting with people at the company you’re interested in or who have roles similar to the one you’re considering can be invaluable. You can connect with people on LinkedIn and ask them questions to gain insight into the job. This will help you determine what to include in your resume and what to eliminate. Use their advice and experience to improve your resume. As a bonus, having connections within the company can also increase your chances of being hired provided you take the time to build a genuine relationship with your contacts.

8. Does your resume directly reflect the job description?

You should have a specially tailored resume for every job you apply for—the effort is worth it. Plus, this may not be as hard as you think: If you’re applying for similar roles, you shouldn’t have to make many changes each time. However, you still want your resume to be a direct reflection of each job description, which is always going to require at least some tweaks.

When you use the job description to help you structure your resume, you’ll be more likely to get hired. Need help tailoring your resume to a particular job description? Get in touch with our resume experts

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