How to Customize a Resume for EACH Job You Apply For

I remember going to workshops and networking events as a senior in college to learn what I could do to increase my chances of finding a job as a fresh college graduate. When I heard multiple people talk about the importance of customizing a resume for EACH job you apply for, I started to freak out.

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I was applying to so many jobs and that was already taking up a ton of time. So to apply to jobs and have to make a new resume every time? That seemed like too much. But I figured out a great and quick way to create a new resume for every job I applied for.

Before we dive into that, I want to go over the question I also had in my head when I first heard this advice…

Why do I need to customize a resume for each job I apply for?

Because submitting a general resume for every position you apply for is not the most effective way to apply to jobs. Here are a couple of reasons why:

  • A recruiter doesn’t always know the ins and outs of the jobs they are finding a filling for. And generic resumes can make it hard to communicate to the recruiter that you have exactly what the job description is looking for.
  • More companies are using an ATS (applicant tracking system) which is a type of software used to collect, sort, scan, and rank the job applications they receive for their open positions. So if you don’t tailor your resume to the job description, the ATS may not prioritize your resume.

Bottom line...If you don’t customize your resume according to the job description, you’re missing out on the chance to demonstrate exactly how good of a fit you are for the job.

So now you’re probably wondering, “But I apply to so many jobs. How am I supposed to create a new resume for each job I apply for?”

Let me show you how you can quickly customize a resume for EACH job you apply for.

Pro tip: Download the Productive Job-Hunting Game Plan BEFORE creating a master resume to be sure you aren’t skipping crucial steps (like self-discovery and informational interviews) in the job-hunting process.

1. Create a master resume with all previous experience

This first step is going to take the longest. But you only have to do it once.

Once it’s set up, you just have to maintain it which shouldn’t take too long. Here’s how to create your master resume:

  1. Open a new document
  2. Write down all of your past job experiences (position, title, company, and date range of when you worked there)
  3. For each job, make a note of the tasks you did
  4. List out all of the hard and soft skills you have

2. Find a job that you want to apply for

LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Career Builder, Indeed, and Zip Recruiter are popular job board sites.

As you are reading job descriptions, start thinking about the relevant past job experiences you will be able to show on your resume. Pay attention to and pick out any key words you notice.

3. Create a new resume from the master resume

  1. Open up a new doc next to your master resume
  2. Format the new document into a one-page resume
    • You can find free templates on Canva.com
  3. Fill in the basic information
    • Name, education, and contact info
  4. Copy and paste anything that is relevant to the position you are applying for from the master resume to your new resume
  5. Add any relevant skills, leadership experience, or awards

4. Make any last-minute edits

This is where you customize the new resume so that it is specific to the job description. Here are some things you would change:

  • The order of your work experience
  • What skills, leadership, and awards you show
  • Your objective (if you have this in your resume)

Remember those keywords I mentioned in step 2? Here’s where you use those.

For example, let’s say you are applying to a social media coordinator position and they are looking for someone who has experienced “coordinating a social media calendar.” On your master resume, one of the tasks you wrote down was “managed social media calendar.” Simply change out the wording so that it matches what is in the job description.

By using the same exact wording, you’re clearly showing that you have related experience.

5. Repeat steps 2-4 for each job you apply for

With this method, you don’t need to create a new resume from scratch for EVERY job you apply for. It’s pretty much just copying and pasting then editing.

Now what?

Now that you know the framework of how to quickly ad easily customize a resume for each job you apply for, you just need to find a way to make your resume stand out from all of the other fresh graduates. Here are a few resources:

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