top of page
  • Admin

How to Tailor Your Resume to Each Job Posting


Moving to a new location is challenging, but when you add language barriers and differences in how to job search in a new country, your frustration can mount quickly! If you’ve recently immigrated to the U.S., you’ve probably already realized that an international CV is a different document from a U.S.-style resume. Not only are the U.S. documents shorter, but they are very much marketing pieces. And when you apply for a position in the U.S., you’re likely to encounter applicant tracking software (ATS) systems, which add another challenge. That means you need a new, targeted resume, and you must take the extra step to tailor your resume to each job posting. While making these updates might sound easy on the surface, it can be a lot of work if you don’t have a great base document already.


Let’s start there.


Create a Resume That Highlights Your Value Proposition

When you apply to jobs in the U.S., you’ll have to overcome two obstacles in the application process:


1.         ATS systems

2.         Employers or recruiters


Thankfully, you can present yourself with one document, but you need to keep those audiences in mind as you write your resume.


ATS Systems

An ATS system is a database, and most recruiting firms and larger employers incorporate them into the employment process to make it easier for them to review resumes. With many positions being remote or hybrid, your competition can be fierce—sometimes up to a thousand applicants for one role!


When you apply online, your resume is input into an ATS system. That means your resume needs to be easy to review and parse by ATS systems and include the information ATS systems are looking for.


Luckily, ATS systems want what most employers and recruiters want: brevity and clarity. That translates to sharing the information quickly, making it easily scannable, and not going beyond two pages.


Employers or Recruiters

In 2018, Theconducted an eye-tracking study of initial resume reviews and found that the average time spent on that first read is just 7.4 seconds. That study was debunked a few years later by Jan Tegze, a top recruiter, who found that recruiters spend 17 seconds up to two minutes or more reviewing a resume.


Regardless which study you believe, you don’t have a lot of time to make a first impression with a hiring manager or recruiter. With limited time, you need to show your value quickly by focusing on the information employers want to see and making your resume easy to scan in mere seconds.


Again, this means brevity and clarity, along with a format that drives readers to the areas you want them to see. However, this does not mean bulleting your entire resume. Aim for a mix of short paragraphs in your summary and job descriptions, reserving bullets for accomplishments to make the important information pop.


The Components Needed on Your Resume

While no two resumes are—nor should be—exactly the same, they follow similar best practices in what’s included. This means they focus on the following:


·       Name

·       Contact information

·       Headline or title

·       Value proposition in your summary

·       Areas of expertise

·       Experience in reverse chronological order

·       An emphasis on accomplishments

·       Education

·       As applicable: licenses, certifications, organizations, publications, and presentations


For the most part, the information will be in this order. There are exceptions for those who have recently graduated who might put education before experience.


Tailor Your Resume to Each Job Description

Once you’ve created a base resume that’s full of value, there’s only one area that you’ll update every time you apply. This includes most of the top quarter of your resume, what is referred to as “above the fold” in journalism: title, summary, and areas of expertise.


Why is it so important to tailor your resume?


The most pressing reason is that ATS systems are pulling resumes based on keywords, and if your keywords don’t match those in the job description, the likelihood that your resume will be found falls to near zero. Don’t worry, though, because the information you need to include is in the job description. It’s like you get the answers to the test beforehand!


Change Your Title

The title of your resume should match the title of the job to which you’re applying. If the title of one position is “marketing director” and another is “director of marketing,” change your title to match the job description exactly.


Finesse Your Summary

Your summary should always answer the question, “Why should I hire you?” Tailor your resume summary to reflect that answer for each position. Keep this to three or four sentences shared in a four- to six-line paragraph. In the job description, you’ll see what the company prizes in applicants, and you want to be that applicant, so be sure to include that information!


Update Your Keywords

Right after your summary is your areas of expertise, and these are an easy way to include the keywords from the job description. While they may not match exactly, they should be as close as possible to the keywords listed in the job description. For instance, if the job description says you must be able to manage projects effectively, the keyword on your resume will be “project management.”


Leverage AI to Tailor Your Resume

While ChatGPT, Copilot, and Gemini (among others) may not be a resume writer’s first choice for crafting your entire resume, they can help you find some good keywords to include and a point of reference as you tailor your resume for each position. Here’s how to do it:


1.         Copy and paste the job description (JD) into the chat system of your choice.

2.         Initially, ask it for keywords: “Suggest 25 keywords from this JD that will help my resume be found by ATS systems.”

3.         Next, ask it for a more targeted resume summary: “Write a 100-word resume summary that supports this JD.”


It’s very important to note that chat systems are not perfect, so you should never just blindly accept what they offer, nor should you copy their outputs word for word. That said, they can be a great help when you don’t write resumes for a living and you need a little push in the right direction to tailor your resume for a particular role.


Tailor Your Resume Every Time

Sometimes, job seekers apply for hundreds of positions each week, and they often ask, “Do I have to update my resume every time I apply? That seems like a lot of work.”


Looking for a job is in itself a job and takes work. If you want to boost your chances of securing an interview, you need to invest this time to tailor your resume every time. While there are no guarantees in a job search, by taking this additional step, you’ll be that much closer to making positive progress.


Amanda Miller
Amanda Miller

Amanda Miller is the owner of Your Career Advocate, which offers resume writing, cover letters, LinkedIn optimization, and job-search coaching. She has been supporting job seekers for nearly three decades. All of the content mentioned herein represents the individual opinions of the author or authors, but none of it should be taken as legal advice.  All content is provided freely and without any warranties, guarantees, or liabilities.  In no event shall the writers or providers of this content be liable for any damages or other liability resulting from the opinions shared herein.

3 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page