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Customize Your Resume

When you’re applying for a posted vacancy, and competing against a number of applicants, it’s likely that one or more staff members (possibly aided by an applicant tracking software program) will conduct an initial screening of resumes. A small number of the resumes will be forwarded to the hiring decision makers for a more careful review. The best way to increase the odds that your resume will make it past the screeners, and result in an interview, is to customize your resume for the position you are targeting.

Here’s how to customize your resume for a targeted position:

  1. Print the job description for the targeted position and read it carefully. Highlight key words and phrases that identify required and preferred skills and experience, as well as the responsibilities and duties of the position.

    If you’ve learned about a vacant position through other means (Networking Conversations or informational interviews, for example), refer to your notes or reflect on what you’ve learned about the position.
  2. Print the worksheet below. Write the required skills, experience, and responsibilities in Column A of the worksheet.
  3. Identify your strengths and log your strengths and accomplishments that match the job description's key words and phrases in Column B.

    If you can’t identify a close match of your strengths and accomplishments with some of the requirements listed in the job description, try to think of your strengths and accomplishments that are similar to the requirements.
  4. Use the information in Column B to begin writing the "Summary" and "Experience" sections of your resume.

    Refer to Highly Effective Resumes for powerful resume bullet points and the action verbs list if you have trouble explaining your strengths and accomplishments.



 What Hiring Decision Makers are Looking For              
The Relevant Capabilities, and Results You've Achieved