How to Tailor Your Resume to a Job Description

By Nicole Martin


Your resume should make it obvious that you’re the right candidate for the job. In order for that to happen, you need to make sure your resume not only checks off the requirements and responsibilities listed in the description of the position, but that your corresponding skills and qualifications are instantly identifiable. The best way to ensure this occurs is to tailor your resume to match the description of each job to which you are applying. This may seem like a lot of work, but I can’t stress enough just how important it is for you to do so. 

Recruiters spend an average of just 7.6 seconds reviewing a resume. They quickly skim to see if your credentials match what they’re looking for. If this isn’t enough to convince you to tailor your resume, here’s something else to ponder: a recruiter may never even see your resume if the company uses applicant tracking software. Why? Because that software can automatically reject a resume based on set specifications. The recruiters set parameters and the bots filter out applicants based on how well a resume aligns with the job requirements. The bot looks for specific keywords when making its decision and can flag or dismiss a resume, preventing a human from ever seeing it. Tailoring your resume to the job position will boost your chances of passing the initial computer/recruiter scan test.

Resume Tailoring Tips

To modify your resume to get noticed, follow my tips below.  

Carefully Review the Job Description

Thoroughly read through the job description, highlighting the following:

  • Responsibilities
  • Skills
  • Abilities
  • Experience
  • Education
  • Qualities
  • Training

Pay careful attention to the responsibilities listed, as these often disclose the type of skills the employer is looking for without overtly stating them. For example, if the description says that the applicant must be able to “lead teams on various projects meeting set deadlines”, you can infer that they are looking for people who have leadership, team management, project management, and time management skills.

When reading through the description, take notes on the specific words and phrases used in reference to responsibilities, skills, experience level, certifications, years in the industry, etc. You will want to make sure to add these, and variations of them, to your resume

Also note the order of the responsibilities and skills listed. This indicates what is a priority for the employer and you will want to mirror that order on your resume.

Compare Your Resume to the Description

Now, compare all of the data you gathered to the information you have on your resume. Highlight what matches and identify what you are missing. 

Tweak your resume as needed to call attention to all of the key qualifications 

Leverage Your Resume’s Summary

The summary is the first thing a recruiter will see. This is where you want to showcase your skills, qualities, and accomplishments using the words and phrases you gathered from the job description. I also like to mention the position title in this section to demonstrate real interest.

Carefully Craft Your Work History

When comparing your resume to the job description, determine which responsibilities, skills, and accomplishments align with what the employer is looking for. Create bullets using the words and phrases you have identified to make them stand out. Prioritize the bullets to correspond with the order within the job listing, even if this order doesn’t reflect your main responsibilities. Remember, you are tailoring your information to the open position. 

Showcase Requested Skills

Follow the same pattern when listing your skills. Use the words and phrases from the job description placing them in the order of priority. Any additional skills should be listed last. 

Delete Non-Relevant Information 

It isn’t necessary to include superfluous information. Be proactive and delete what doesn’t apply to the position. If you have a lot of experience, this includes minimizing content for old jobs that don’t align with or relate to the position, and maybe even removing them completely from your resume.  

Use Formatting to Draw Attention

Lastly, take advantage of font styles, bold, italics, and underlining BUT don’t get creative. You want to call attention to your qualifications, but you need to keep things simple so your resume is easy for both recruiters and bots to read and understand. 


The Importance of Work in Our Daily Life

By Kimberly Kafafian


On this 20th anniversary of 9/11, I am reminded of the strong interconnection between work and life. So many of the individuals who perished in the attacks on that day in September lost their lives simply because they had gone to work that morning, just like any other day. None of them could have imagined the tragic events that would unfold.

Living and working in the New York / New Jersey area, just a short drive from where the Twin Towers stood, the events of 9/11 particularly hit home for me. I will never forget leaving work early, cresting the block to my apartment, and seeing the smoke rising from the burning towers. I will never forget waiting for phone call updates on missing friends and family. And the next day, I will never forget the cars still parked at the train station, their hoods overflowing with memorial flowers.

The memory of 9/11 continues to follow me. As my husband approaches his 20th anniversary in Federal Law Enforcement, I am reminded that he started his career shortly after 9/11. For 9 years, we then lived and worked a short distance from the Pentagon. And twenty years later, my company is headquartered in a town that lost 11 residents. Our town has a memorial dedicated to those lost just a few blocks from my office. I may stop to mourn the loss of life from 9/11 annually but I am reminded of the tragedy on a daily basis. Our hearts are forever with those who worked in the Twin Towers and Pentagon, the flight crews, the passengers, and the brave heroes who tried to save them. We will never forget.

So that is why, for me, that devastating day in 2011 is a stark example of the significance of work in our lives. It demonstrates that so much of our day, and life in general, is inextricably tied to our careers.

A job is so much more than a just a paycheck

For some, work holds a purpose, it is a calling to do good in the world. It is also an important channel for developing social bonds and a means for building personal identity and self-worth. And research shows that working is closely linked to one’s physical and mental wellbeing.

The work family bond

In any given week, we work a third of our waking hours. As a result, we spend more time with our co-workers than we do with our loved ones – whether that be in-person at our workplaces or via video conferences in the wake of COVID-19. Spending so much time together, the line between work and personal often blurs. Relationships are forged, with co-workers becoming more than merely colleagues. Friendships blossom. We share intimate details of our lives and rely on one another for support – both in and out of the workplace. For some, co-workers can be the core of their social circle. There are so many heartbreaking, but inspiring, stories of co-workers lost on 9/11 and the bonds they shared with the survivors.

The why of work

Often our sense of self-worth is tied to our work life. Experiencing purpose at work helps us to feel like we are contributing to society and the common good. In this way, our careers can provide meaning in life, evoking passion and innovation at work and at home. This “calling” is especially exemplified by the first responders who bravely ran into the face of danger on that fateful day doing the job they loved, along with those who were off the clock but joined in the efforts.

Our work identity

Because we spend so much time at work, for many of us it can be a defining aspect of our lives and our identities. We often see our jobs as a key aspect of who we are. I know I do. Think about it – when you meet someone for the first time, how often do they ask you, “What do you do for work?” They ask this why? Small talk, yes. But they ask because what we do is such a big component of who we are.

The influence of work on personality

What we do at work can shape who we are – our attitudes, beliefs and behaviors – and that, in turn, can lead to changes in our personal lives. For example, jobs that require us to deal with a wide range of tasks, data, or people can enhance our abilities to juggle competing priorities or influence our proactiveness in finding solutions.  Take me for example. I’m a very solutions-oriented person. My career has spanned from social services to human resources, and with it my identity as “the person who solves problems” has grown stronger over time. Problem solving HR issues for small businesses is what I do. But it is also who I am. When my sons come to me with their stumbling blocks, I immediately launch into problem-solving-mom-mode by helping them generate ideas for potential solutions.

Work and life are so intertwined. Our jobs and careers provide us with a sense of purpose and self-worth, allow us to flourish by connecting us to others, help us to build our individual identities, and enhance our ability to thrive in all aspects of our daily lives. And on this 20th anniversary of 9/11, we will never forget those who simply wanted to go to work that day.