Five Easy Steps to Tailor Your Resume or CV

Are you sending out multiple resumes or curriculum vitae (CVs) and wondering why you are not receiving more responses?  One reason may be that your documents are not tailored toward the specific job, internship, volunteer, or academic opportunity that you are seeking. Ok, you might say, I agree with this advice, but tailoring every document is very time-consuming.  What can I do to simplify this process?  Here are five easy steps to save you time and energy when tailoring your resume or CV:

Step 1: Review the Requirements

Whether you are applying for a job, internship, educational opportunity, or volunteer role, start with reviewing the position requirements for key qualifications.  The opportunity you are seeking may be an entry-level position all the way up to a high-level leadership role; however, the process of tailoring your resume or CV is very much the same. The first step is to start by analyzing the position requirements to better understand what your target audience or organization is looking for.  The more information you uncover, the easier it will be to tailor your document to their specific needs.  

Let’s review a few requirements for a Training Manager position at a large healthcare organization.  We will use these requirements to illustrate how someone who is targeting this position can prepare to tailor their resume:

Example: Training Manager Position Requirements

  • Experience conceptualizing, designing, and evaluating online and face-to-face training programs.
  • 2-3 years of supervisory experience.
  • Experience with training software including Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate.
  • Prior experience in a healthcare setting preferred.

Understanding the requirements will help the applicant highlight skills and accomplishments that directly match, increasing the chances of moving on to the next phase of the selection process.

(Expert Tip: Dig deeper by researching the organization’s mission, vision, people, and culture.  For additional career research tools, visit the Career Planning and Development’s  Career Exploration page)

Step 2: Match Your Skills

After identifying the key requirements, the next step is to create a list of skills that match those requirements.  Referring back to our example, an individual who is applying for a Training Manager position may possess skills in designing training programs, using popular training software, and managing staff.  One effective way to match skills is to add a Skills section to the resume that looks something like this:

Specialized Skills
Instructional Design
Project Management
Training Program Evaluation
Articulate Storyline
Adobe Captivate
Staff Supervision

A Skills section is easy to modify to the position you are applying for and a quick way to capture your reader’s attention.  In addition, many organizations use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATSs) with computer algorithms that screen out applicants who do not clearly match the key requirements of the position.  If you infuse your document with keywords that match your skills to the job posting, you can increase your chances of progressing through the selection process.

(Expert Tip: Consider including skills you gained or are gaining in your academic program if they match your target opportunity.  These skills may include Blackboard, quantitative and qualitative research, online discussion forums, among others)

Step 3: Highlight Relevant Accomplishments

Another way to tailor your resume or CV is to include strong accomplishment statements. Accomplishment statements can appear in a Summary section at the top of the document, and also under each position listed in the Experience section. 

Start accomplishment statements with strong action verbs, include specific details that match the position requirements, and focus on outcomes or results (when possible). 

Here are two examples of accomplishment statements for an applicant who is applying for the Training Manager position:

  • Completed a 90-hour course on leading training initiatives and a 40-hour course on using Adobe Captivate, to develop engaging training programs and stay current on instructional design best practices.

  • Created four self-paced, interactive training modules on organizational policies and procedures using Articulate Storyline for 180+ healthcare employees; training helped reduce the number of policy questions from employees by 23%.

Your list of accomplishments can help show your reader through specific examples that you have the training and experience needed for your target opportunity.

(Expert Tip: Consider creating a “master” resume or template that lists major accomplishments for all positions you held, then tailor your resume by selecting those accomplishments from the list that best match the specific opportunity).

Step 4: Showcase Your Brand

Adding a Summary section at the top of your resume or CV is a great way to quickly let your reader know what you have to offer.  Your Summary should start with a branding statement that sums up your unique experience as it relates to your target opportunity.

Below is an example of a branding statement for a training professional who is applying for the Training Manager position above:

  • Instructional designer, trainer, and collaborator with 3 years of experience creating in-person and virtual training programs, supervising training initiatives, and partnering with internal stakeholders to design, implement, and evaluate self-paced training programs.

Notice that this statement matches the requirements in Step 1.

Step 5: Organize Your Resume or CV Sections

Your resume or CV should include your Contact Information on the very top, preferably followed by a Summary section that is tailored toward the specific position.  However, additional sections can be re-arranged in order of importance.  For example, if you are pursuing your Walden degree to transition into a new field and do not have a lot of experience yet, you may want to position your Education section right below your Summary.  However, if you already have substantial experience and are seeking career advancement, you may want to position your Professional Experience section right below your Summary.

For ideas on how to organize your resume or CV, visit the Resume & More page or review 500+ samples in the OptimalResume system. If you are interested in higher ed teaching, consulting, research, or other academic opportunities, refer to the Curriculum Vitae (CV) Guide for step-by-step instructions on how to organize your academic CV.

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Written by Dina Bergren, Associate Director, Department of Career Planning and Development