How to Create a Targeted Resume

Nilda Melissa Diaz, CPRW
By Nilda Melissa Diaz, CPRW, Career Advice Expert

Our customers have been hired at: *Foot Note

It’s critical to write a custom resume each time you apply for a job. According to an article on, the average job listing has 118 applicants, but only 20 percent of those candidates will be interviewed. For high-profile jobs, the numbers of applicants can be in the thousands (consider, for example, a round-the-world travel reporter position at The New York Times, which famously received 9,000 applications.)

Use the best resume examples as a guide to craft a compelling resume that impresses recruiters.

Why you should create a custom resume for each job

By creating a tailored resume focused on the skills and experiences needed for each job, you’ll stand out from the many applicants who submit a generic resume. A unique resume demonstrates that you are detail-oriented, that you’ve done your research and that you’re truly interested both in the job and the company.

Additionally, many companies use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), which are computer programs that scan your resume for keywords and determine which resumes make it to human eyes. Writing a targeted resume based on the job listing allows you to add critical keywords, which gives you a greater chance of moving onto the next round (our Resume Builder can help you take care of this work in no time at all).

How to customize your resume for a job listing

A personalized resume will set you apart from other applicants. It will take a little extra time to create a custom document for each job, but it’s worth the effort. Keep reading to learn how to make your resume stand out.

1. Use a few keywords

Taking notes as you read multiple job listings gives you insight into the types of qualifications employers are looking for. That’s critical information for uncovering keywords and matching your resume to the job description. Write down the requirements in the job posting and incorporate those keywords into your resume, using the exact terminology in the posting. 

For additional guidance, check out our guide on what to put on a resume for a job application.

2. Consider company culture

Many companies pride themselves on company cultures that inspire growth in their employees (and, often, loyalty in their customers). Read the company’s website and check out their social media presence, to get a sense of what they value. Then, think of ways that your experience aligns with their aims.

For example, if a company’s website mentions that community and collaboration are important, think of ways you can incorporate those ideas into your resume. Perhaps you were a resident assistant in college or volunteered at a nursing home one summer. Connecting your mission with theirs shows that you are in sync with the company.

3. Use the best resume format

Depending on the job you’re applying to, your work history and education level, the type of resume format you use can make a difference in how a hiring manager perceives your skills and experience. Therefore, you should pick a format that highlights your strengths and downplays any gaps. The three resume formats are:

  • Chronological, where work experience is listed in reverse chronological order
  • Functional, which emphasizes your skills and qualifications
  • Combination, which is a blend of both

Chronological is the most popular format, but it might not be the best choice for you, depending on the type of job for which you are applying. For example, if you’re switching careers or applying for a job after a period where you didn’t work, it might be better to utilize a functional resume, which places the focus on your transferable skills. (Choose from our selection of free resume templates take care of this work in minutes!).

Group 2

Bank Associate - PNC Bank

As a well-established banking company Americans can trust, we seek a detail-oriented teller for a full-time position at our Fresno, CA branch. Applicants must have teller experience and a superb talent for meeting customer's unique needs. The ideal candidate is comfortable with learning the ins and outs of our system, and will practice asset protection strategies to protect customers from fraud and data misuse.

Responsibilities and Duties:

  • Manage transactions including deposits and withdrawals.
  • Assist customers with a variety of financial services including account management, loan applications and savings bonds.
  • Adhere to safety regulations to protect the identity of customers and avoid theft.
  • Direct and refer customers to specialized bank staff to meet their needs

Qualifications & Skills:

  • 2+ years of teller experience
  • Cash counting and currency packaging
  • An associate degree or higher preferred
  • Great customer service skills

Thinking about your application as a complete package

A targeted resume can be your ticket to a dream job, but it’s still part of a whole package. Once you’ve written your personalized resume, follow these steps to help your application land on the top of the pile.

1.Customize your cover letter

Remember: your resume and cover letter work together. Your resume contains the facts; your cover letter brings those facts to life and explains why you are the qualified, interesting person sitting behind that computer. Put in the extra effort to create a custom cover letter that shows your passion and enthusiasm. Your cover letter should also include a greeting, where you address the hiring manager by name, not the generic “to whom it may concern.”

2. Update Your LinkedIn profile

Every job applicant should have a thorough profile on LinkedIn. When a potential employer Googles you (as they likely will), a LinkedIn profile is often toward the top of the search results. This gives you an opportunity to put your best self forward and showcase your skills.

That means having an edited, up-to-date profile, a polished bio and a professional-looking picture. A current profile shows that you’re serious about your job search and thinking about how to present yourself to potential employers (which, in an employer’s mind, can translate into how you’ll present yourself to clients or business associates).

3. Connect with your network

According to Forbes, “80 [percent] of available jobs are never advertised.” If you’re solely scrolling through job boards, you are missing out. Connect with your colleagues and former co-workers if you're further along in your career or reach out to your school’s career center and attend alumni events in your city if you're newer to the working world. In either case, join professional associations and attend professional networking events in your field. Speaking up and meeting people can help you learn about the positions that aren’t advertised, which could put you one step closer to finding your dream job.

Need to tell your current boss that you are resigning? Check out our guide on how to write a letter of resignation for a job.

By following these steps, you're well on your way to customizing your resume to pass the automated scans and attract the eye of the hiring manager. Get started with our Resume Builder today to make personalizing your resume a snap.

Rate this article

How to Create a Targeted Resume

Average Rating

3.3/5 stars with 3 reviews

Related Content