4 Elements Of A Tailored Resume

1

Hiring managers often proclaim that a tailored resume is one of the best ways for job seekers to snag their attention. A generic, one-size-fits-all resume just doesn’t cut it, especially in a sea of hundreds (or thousands) of applications.

As a job seeker, you might be wondering what this really means. What makes a resume “tailored”?

One of the first things to keep in mind is that, like your tailored resume itself, there is no generic, one-size-fits-all answer to these questions. Each hiring manager is going to look for something different (in terms of the specifics), based on the needs of the job and the organization as a whole.

The being said, there are some core aspects that a tailored resume addresses. The list below will help you identify the information you’ll need to craft yours:

Responsibilities that match the ones listed in the job description

A good place to start is to demonstrate that you’ve already done the type of work the organization needs. Read through the full job description and pay careful attention to what the position entails. Include on your resume any of your work experience that most closely relates to those responsibilities. Avoid wasting time and space with details that don’t relate to the job or the work of the organization.

Why it’s important: If you already have competency in those areas, you’ll be a quick study and able to hit the ground running in your new job.

Example: 

Job description states: Serve as a significant role model for effective and appropriate work behaviors, procedures, and practices. Act as a liaison and advocate for participants.

Show on your resume something like: Advocated on behalf of approximately 960 students and 23 student groups as their primary representative to the faculty and administration.

Resource: You probably have the skills you need to land your next job.

Accomplishments from your previous experience that relate to those responsibilities

While it’s a good start, it’s not enough to simply state “I’ve done X.” Show the full story by proving your efforts produced a positive result for the organization where you worked (or volunteered). Be sure to select results that are of relevance and interest to the hiring organization.

Why it’s important: If you’ve achieved those results before, it’s a good indicator that you will recreate them (or better) at your next job.

Example:

Job description states: Coordinate fundraiser for students and their families, increasing organization’s reach and publicity.

Include an accomplishment like: Led a graduate-student inclusive philanthropy campaign, garnering a 73% response rate from the graduating class—the highest in the school’s history.

Resource: How to add accomplishments to your resume.

Indication that you understand the needs of the organization and can meet them

This will likely require a little more digging and going beyond just the job description. Research the organization—read through the website and press releases, set up a Google alert, read about their staff members and latest news—to identify the problems and issues it might currently be facing. How might your combination of skills and experience be of benefit? Use your resume to address this- subtly, of course. As Lisa Vaas, an award-winning technology and careers writer states on The Ladders, you don’t want to blatantly point out the organization’s weaknesses, but your list of accomplishments can allude to the reason why hiring you would be beneficial.

Why it’s important: It helps make the case for why the organization should hire you. The easier you make it for the hiring manager to connect the dots to your candidacy, the better.

Example:

From your research you discover: Organization is growing rapidly.

What to include on your resume: Give evidence that you can handle change and manage multiple priorities. For example, highlight project management skills or note in your resume if your previous organization has a culture similar to the organization where you are applying.

Resource: How to research and understand the pain points of an organization.

Attention to the “lingo”

Familiarize yourself with the language used by the organization. An organization that uses simple, staid language will have a personality different from one that uses playful words. Write your resume with a nod to the organization’s “personality.” Remember that this research is dual-purpose, because you can use what you find to prepare for a potential interview.

Why it’s important: Organizations actively look for personality and cultural fit. Even if you have all the qualifications, it behooves the hiring manager (and you!) to hire someone whose personality is harmonious with the organization’s culture. They want to hire someone who “gets” them. Keep in mind that if the organization’s personality is too dissimilar from yours, you may not be happy working there, so “fit” benefits you as much as them!

Example:

Lingo used on website or job description: “Organization with a conscience” “Move people from dependency to employment” “Lift people out of poverty”

How to implement: Select some of the terms and include them on your resume where applicable. Sometimes it’s as simple as changing “company” to “organization” if you are a sector switcher. If they don’t fit appropriately, you can use them in your cover letter instead.

Resource: Nonprofit lingo 101.

Before sending your next application, give these four tweaks a try. While it may be more time consuming, it just might be the ticket to your next interview!

Like what you just read?
Sign up to get more articles like this sent straight to your inbox.
Photo Credit: sheff, Shutterstock

About Author

I became acquainted with Idealist in late 2000 while working in the career development office at a private liberal arts college in NYC. I used it almost daily to help students and alumni find meaningful careers. After a 12-year stint in higher education, I worked as a career coach for professionals in various industries (and still used Idealist). During one of those many searches, a listing really caught my eye- the one for the newly-created position, Careers Program Coordinator. So... I jumped at the opportunity. Since then, I took on the role of Manager of Career Content for Idealist Careers, creating career content for job seekers, leaders, and other nonprofit professionals. Understanding the roles that a positive outlook and holistic self-care play in career success, I've shared with our readers time-honored methods for improving confidence and productivity. Now, as Manager of College and Professional Development, my focus is on lifting the advice from Idealist Careers "off the page". Drawing from my experience in career development, I propel job seekers and career changers towards taking control of their searches with confidence and removing fear, uncertainty, and other blocks to success via in-person workshops and seminars, webinars, and conference programming. My great loves are cooking (preferably without a recipe, otherwise I doctor it up), dancing, live cultural performances, identifying the tasting notes in a good cup of coffee, exploring neighborhoods for hidden gems, and anything else that sparks the senses and allows me to experience all the beauty, dynamism, and intrigue that vivaciously living in a remarkable world offers.

1 Comment

  1. Courteney Douglas on

    Great strategy, Victoria. As a resume writer, I know an effective resume must have a solid strategy, which can be a tricky time-consuming process for many job seekers.

Leave a Reply

Like what you're reading? Never miss a post.

Join 14,000 people who receive free daily tips on how to: