Workwrite Resumes

How to revise your targeted resume in 5 steps

A target with three darts in the bullseye.

Today’s hiring managers and recruiters want a targeted resume, one that shows specifically how your qualifications relate to the position you want. This isn’t a problem if you land the first job you apply for. If you end up applying for more than one position, you must revise your resume  . . . again. You’d rather pull out your own fingernails? OK. Try these five steps first.

1. Start with a narrow focus

First of all, make sure you have narrowed down the target of your search so that you are applying for similar jobs. If you are finding you have to completely rewrite your resume every time you want to apply for a job, your target probably isn’t focused enough. Find out how here.

2. Analyze the job description.

What are the main requirements of the position? Whittle each one down to a phrase and use those as keywords to introduce a bullet list of strengths. Read how to do that here. Use the same keywords to introduce bullet items in your Experience section.

3. Weed out the irrelevant.

If the job description doesn’t mention it, it may not belong on your resume. If the skill or experience is more than 10 years old, it may not belong on your resume. If it’s just a task without a quantifiable result, it may not belong on your resume. Be ruthless. Be brave. Be concise.

4. Prioritize the rest.

Even similar jobs will have varying requirements. One company may live and die by requirements definition and needs analysis. Those phrases had better show up in the resume you send them. Another company advertising a position with the same title is all about process improvement and customer service. It’s the same job, and both types of information belong on your resume, but the order will need to change to mirror the priority of the company you’re applying to.

5. Change your summary to match.

Now, head back to the top of your resume and see what needs changing in your summary. Sometimes, it’s just switching the order of a couple of items to make one stand out over the other. Sometimes, you need to replace an example of an accomplishment or a reference to a certain skill, and you’re done. And sometimes, my friend, you have to rewrite the whole darn thing.


This is the basic process I use to write resumes, and it works when rewriting them, too. Let me know how it works for you.


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