How to Tailor Your Resume, Summary, and Cover Letter to Any Job
When you’re looking at dozens of job postings every week, it’s easy to get confused between the different demands and qualifications from each employer’s job postings. Everyone seems to want something different, which can be really frustrating, to say the least.
The time it takes to write a customized resume, summary, and cover letter for every single position can also be intimidating for busy job seekers and students.
But it is so, so, so important that you write a resume, summary, and cover letter that fit the job you’re applying for.
You don’t have to totally redo your entire resume, summary, and cover letter every time you apply for a job. But you absolutely need to tailor it so that your application answers the basic question every employer is thinking when they’re reading a resume.
That is, all employers are thinking, “Why do you think you’re the perfect fit for this job?”
Of course, your answer is, “I’m great for the job because…”, in the form of your resume, summary, and cover letter.
Show the employer that you care enough to take the time to customize your job application to the unique demands of a job. It’s the absolute easiest way you can convince them to give you a chance – or even a job.
Here are three straightforward steps that will walk you through how to tailor your resume, summary, and cover letter to any job.
1. Do Your Research
Flatter employers by showing them that you want to work at their company specifically – and that you aren’t just applying to any place that’s hiring.
Luckily, in the age of the internet, research is easy. Companies are excited to share their corporate culture, values, and mission with everyone online.
You should be able to get all the information you need from a quick read through their “About Us” website page, their Twitter feed, and the original job posting.
Take note of these important details:
Do they seem traditional or modern?
Do they use formal language or conversational language?
What do they seem to find important?
Do their employees have things in common with each other?
If the company was a person, what would they be like, e.g. hip, edgy, professional?
This information is crucial for the second step: telling a story.
2. Tell Your Story by Tailoring Your Resume, Summary and Cover Letter
Chances are that you’d rather listen to a story than a list of cold hard facts. The same is truth for employers. Take advantage of how exciting stories are by telling one in your job application. If you’re in doubt about what your story is, check out this guide to personal branding here.
Use your research to identify what the employer is like, as well as what type of traits they would want to hire for. For example, are they modern employers looking for vibrant and unique candidates? Or are they traditional employers looking for professional and mature candidates?
Once you’ve identified what the employer is looking for, tailor your resume, summary, and cover letter to show off your most compelling attributes and skills.
Employers always leave keywords in job postings that they consciously or subconsciously want to see mirrored in your job application. If you can identify the keywords they’re looking for, you can use them carefully in your resume to show that you’re paying attention to what they want.
Select up to three of the most important keywords and tailor your resume, summary, and cover letter to match them. This should be done carefully so that your job application reads naturally.
For example, three keywords for a sales manager job posting could be customer service, manages, and sales goals. In your resume, summary, and cover letter, you could talk about your past customer service experience as a volunteer where you managed two other employees, and exceeded your sales goal for the season last summer.