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Tips for Tailoring and Perfecting Your Resume

Updated: Apr 23

Job hunting and internship searching are continuing to become more and more competitive. In a time like now, your resume serves as the first impression to make on potential employers. It’s your gateway to demonstrating the skills, experiences, and suitability you hold for the role you are applying for. However, not all resumes are created equal. Tailoring your resume to each job application can significantly enhance your chances of standing out amidst a sea of applicants. 

What is Resume Tailoring? Why is it Important? 

If you’ve never heard of tailoring your resume before, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Think of it this way: tailoring your resume is like customizing your social media profile for different friend groups. Just like you might post different content for your family on Facebook versus Instagram for your friends, tailoring your resume means you are tweaking it to fit each job application that you are applying for. It’s not about faking who you are or your experiences- it’s about highlighting the best parts of your experiences that match that specific description and what that employer is looking for. Why do people do this? Today’s job market is ultra-competitive, so it’s important to ensure you are standing out. Oftentimes, employers are swamped with resumes they have to read, and tailoring yours can make sure it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle. Tailoring a resume shows one most important thing: it makes it obvious you are a great choice for the position, qualified, and takes the guesswork out of the employer! Plus, here’s an insider tip: many companies now use software known as Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to scrub resumes for keywords before they even reach human eyes. By tailoring your resume to match the keywords and phrases used in the job description, you increase your chances of getting noticed by these systems and advancing to the next stage of the hiring process. So, if you’re ready to learn how to tailor your resume like a pro and boost your chances of landing that dream job/internship, keep reading!

1. Understand the Job Description:

Before you begin to tailor your resume, it’s important you thoroughly read and understand the job description. Highlight the different key skills, buzzwords, qualifications, and experiences required. Pay attention to specific keywords and repeated phrases used by the employer, as these are often indicative of the specifics in which they are looking for in an ideal candidate.

2. Prioritize Your Personal Relevant Experience:

When listing your work experience, prioritize the roles and accomplishments that are most relevant to the job you are targeting. Focus on highlighting achievements and responsibilities that demonstrate your proficiency in key areas mentioned in the job description. When possible, quantify your accomplishments with numbers, percentages, or other metrics to provide more concrete evidence of your contributions in a position. It is most beneficial to list the largest accomplishments and most relevant to the job posting as the top bullet points, as employers often skim resumes and may not read to the bottom of the bullet point lists!

3. Tailor your Skills Section and Descriptions:

Customize your skills section (if you have one) to include the specific skills and competencies mentioned in the job description. Highlight both the technical skills (things like software proficiency, certifications, etc.) and soft skills (things like leadership abilities, communication skills, etc.) that are relevant to the role. 

When writing the bullet points for your different past experiences, try to use keywords from the job posting when applicable. Here is an example from my personal resume and experience:

My original bullet point:

  • Lead a team of 30 coordinators to create visually appealing graphics and promotional materials that align with the branding and theme of each signature event

The job posting used a lot of “partner closely”, “branding”, and “develop”.

My new, tailored bullet point: 

  • Partner closely with 30 coordinators to develop visually appealing graphics and promotional materials, ensuring branding priorities are upheld

This may seem like small changes, but it can make all the difference in a recruiter's mind, or in the ATS software!

4. Use Action Words When Possible:

Make your bullet points and descriptions stand out by using strong action verbs and power phrases to convey your experiences and accomplishments (bonus points if some of these are also the same action verbs listed in the job description). Begin bullet points with an action word to demonstrate your proactive involvement and impact. Focus on outcomes, and results, and highlight how your specific actions in the role benefited your previous employer and/or organization. 

5. Optimize Formatting and Layout: 

Pay attention to the formatting and layout of your resume to ensure it’s professional, easy to read, and visually appealing. Oftentimes, your college has a resume template that is free and accessible through your Career Center website, so don’t be afraid to reach out to a staff member to inquire about this! Use clear headings, bullet points, and white space when possible to organize your information effectively. Choose a clean and modern font (something like Times New Roman) and avoid excessive colors or graphics that might distract from the actual content or formatting of your resume. Tailor the format of your resume to suit your specific industry and the preferences of the employer.

6. Proofread and Edit Thoroughly:

Before you finalize and submit a tailored resume, proofread it and carefully check for any spelling, grammar, and formatting errors. Typos and mistakes can (and will) detract from your professionalism and attention to detail, so take the time to review your document thoroughly. It is most beneficial to submit your resume as a PDF so that the formatting also remains consistent once submitted to an employer! Bonus points if you have someone at your college Career Center and AO staff member, Olivia, read over it and provide feedback!

By following these steps, you’re well on your way to mastering the art of resume tailoring. Remember, the key to any application is showcasing your unique qualifications, experiences, and achievements in a way that directly resonates with each job opportunity. Tailoring your resume isn’t just about customizing it, it’s also about strategically telling your story and highlighting your value as a candidate that sets you apart from other applicants. So, as you embark on your job search journey, make sure to invest the time and effort into crafting tailored resumes for each application. Your dedication and attention to detail will not go unnoticed by potential employers and recruiters. 

As always, please feel free to reach out to me as a fellow AO student and resource with questions! 

Wishing you luck on your resume tailoring!

Shelby Seybold, Boston College Junior, AO Class of 2025 

Want to connect with me on LinkedIn? Click here!


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