You may already know that you should tailor your cover letter for a specific goal or opportunity, but we strongly recommend that you also tailor your resume. This means that you should modify your resume to highlight and draw attention to the experiences and skills that are most relevant for your particular goal. This will help set you apart from other applicants and it will make it easier for the reader to see the connection between your background, experience, and skills and the opportunity. It will help you to show how you are a good fit for that goal. Many organizations use applicant tracking systems to manage their recruitment processes. By tailoring your resume and including relevant keywords, you can increase the chances that your resume will get noticed.
You do not have to spend a lot of time tailoring your resume. We recommend that you keep a “comprehensive resume” from which you can quickly pull content for your tailored version. As a first step, read the application instructions and position description carefully, focusing in on the sections that outline the responsibilities and desired qualifications. Compare these sections to your comprehensive resume and highlight your experience and skills that match the opportunity’s requirements. Incorporate language and keywords from the position description into your resume, as appropriate.
You may want to pay special attention to your resume’s organization and content. Given what you learn about the opportunity and its requirements, you may want to rename your section headers. For example, if you are applying to a research position, you can create a section called “Research Experience”. Consider including separate “Relevant Experience” and “Additional Experience” sections. You can also reorder the sections within your resume, as well as the bullet points under each experience, so that your most important information is displayed at the top of the page. This will make sure that your pertinent information doesn’t get overlooked by the reader. In your “Education” section, you could list some relevant coursework that demonstrates your knowledge and skills in relation to the opportunity.
Although you will have to invest a little more time writing your resume for a specific goal, the extra preparation could influence whether or not you get called for an interview.