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How to change your resume for each opening – 5 easy steps!

change your resume for every opening
You hear it all the time: “Change your resume for each opening,” but what does that mean and what should you do? 

Simply put, it means changing your resume to (honestly) match the job description as closely as possible. While this added step sounds labor intensive, it doesn't have to be and the results can be well worth the extra effort. Here’s how:

1) Add a bold headline near the top of your resume that matches the job description as closely as possible. 

So if the job description is for a communications director position in healthcare with a master’s degree preferred, (and you have that background), write:

Award-Winning Communications Director with MA in Communication and Significant Healthcare Communication Experience

Note that this headline should replace an objective statement and throwaway lines like “SUMMARY”.

2) Instead of, or in addition to, a summary, spit back the main requirements of the job description in order. Why? If you don’t, the resume reviewer has to wade through your whole resume to find out if you have the requisite background. So if the job description seeks …

job requirements
Repeat the job requirements back to them in order!

Spit back the requirements like this:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri (Top 5 U.S. Journalism school)
  • 8+ years of corporate communications management experience in healthcare
  • Proven record of excellent written and oral communications and editing skills. 5 national awards
  • Superior attention to detail with the ability to prioritize and multi-task
  • Creative thinker who excels at change management and who relishes building dynamic relationships with key decision makers at all levels

3) Add an alphabetical list of keywords that specifically relate to the position. So for example, for an accounting position, those keywords might be:

Strengths (Alphabetical): Account Reconciliation, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Cost Accounting, CPA, Financial Analysis, General Ledger, Microsoft Excel, P&L, Payroll Accounting, Spreadsheets, Tax Accounting, and Year-end Close (Bonus tip: Use the same keywords in LinkedIn profile, particularly in the Summary section and list them in your Skills & Expertise section).

Why put them in alphabetical order? If you don’t, resume reviewers will likely consider that the first strengths listed are your strongest ones and the latter ones are you weakest. By listing them alphabetically (and stating that it’s alphabetical), the resume reviewer will assume that you are good at everything that you mention.

4) Pump up your job titles to better match the position. So if your past position was called “Employee Communications Director,” but the job description seeks an “Internal Communications Director” (the same position), change your job title to Employee Communications Director (Internal Communications Director). 

In a similar way, use a parenthetical statement behind your real titles to explain that seemingly unrelated jobs in your past where actually much more aligned with the job opening than the resume reviewer might expect.  For example, I had a job at a nonprofit with the vague title “Mission Coordinator.” To strengthen the title, I added a parenthetical statement behind it that read: (Creative Director | Marketing Coordinator) since those terms better described what I really did.

5) Add duties and key accomplishments to your past job entries that you had performed, but hadn't mentioned. Err on the side of listing too many duties rather than too few. The extra duties that you list may be very well be the reason that a company selects you.

Customize your resume for every opening!

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