Tailoring Your Résumé

‘You need to customise your résumé to the specific job you are applying to’ is an advice we hear all too often – but how should you go about it?
Carmen Teh
Writer, gradsingapore

A customised résumé is key to grabbing the attention of recruiters. A generic résumé sent to multiple employers and for different job vacancies, on the other hand, will likely end up in the trash.

This is because recruiters may consider a generic résumé as an indication of an applicant's lack of enthusiasm and interest for the job and employer. Some employers may even find it disrespectful for jobseekers to skip out on doing their research about the company.

Indeed, tailoring your résumé is crucial for your job application – but how do you put it to action? What does it really mean to ‘tailor your résumé’?

Here are some pointers to help you create an attention-grabbing, customised résumé.

1. Understanding the job you are applying for

Before you hastily click on the ‘apply now’ button on the online application webpage, or send off your application via email, make sure you’ve read the description of the job thoroughly.

Take the time to go through every point in the job description and think about the experience and skills you have that are relevant to each point.

Also, take note of keywords or themes that are mentioned repeatedly. For instance, teamwork and collaboration, or quality service and attention to detail.

This is a pivotal step because you can’t customise your résumé for a position that you don’t really know about.

2. Showcase relevant skills and experience

Demonstrating how your skills and experience will make you a good match for the position is important. Now that you have the relevant skills in mind after reading through the job description, it is time to list them out.

As a fresh graduate, you may not have work experience that is directly relevant to the job on offer – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t include your other experiences. You can list down the details of your work experience and highlight the relevant skills that you picked up while working or interning with a previous employer.

For instance, you are applying for a marketing position but you’ve only ever worked as a design intern at an advertising agency. That’s okay!

You can highlight transferrable skills that you gained from your internship that are relevant to the role you are applying for. These can include the ability to think out of the box and work under the pressure of deadlines.

3. Check your résumé

After providing information that are valuable to employers on your résumé, it is time to proof the document and check that all the important points are mentioned.

However, not all recruiters have the luxury of time to go through hundreds of applications and résumés thoroughly. It is important to keep things concise, and to include keywords that are relevant to the ones that were repeatedly stated, as mentioned in the first point above.

Lastly, when checking your draft résumé, ask yourself – "Is it clear why I am applying for this job?". Put yourself in the shoes of your recruiter. Does this applicant have the skills and experience for the job? Is he or she a qualified candidate for this specific role?

If your answer is yes, you have yourself a solid résumé! But don’t forget to do a spell check on the document. Also, getting a friend or family member to look through your résumé may also be a good idea to make sure the document is good to go.