Great Resumes Fast » Resume Writing Tips » Do I Have to Rewrite My Resume for Every Job Application?

If you’ve been out of work for a while, and your full-time job is now, essentially, looking for a full-time job, you may feel that you’re spending more time rewriting your resume for every single position than actually searching out new opportunities. You’re wondering if you can get away with a generic resume.

What you need is a resume that targets the type of job you’re looking for, outlining the skill set you can bring to that particular type of employment. Then you can adjust it to suit specific companies. You don’t need to do a complete rewrite unless you’re applying for very dissimilar jobs; you wouldn’t, for example, use the same resume for a job in customer service as you would for one in construction. But you can create a master resume for customer service jobs and customize it for individual positions. You can write a resume for construction jobs, and then make it specific to the company you’re applying to.

Is Targeting Worth the Effort?

Yes, it is. There’s a lot of competition out there, and if you go the extra mile and create a resume that’s specific to the job you’re applying for, you get past the screening process. And believe me, the screening process can be rigorous. If you submit a resume that seems to be “disconnected” from the position that needs to be filled, you’re dead in the water. You might be perfectly qualified for the job, but if it’s obvious that you haven’t expended any effort, your resume is likely to go straight to the bottom of the heap.

Will Targeting Get Me a Job Offer?

Let’s proceed on the assumption that you’re qualified for the job. That alone isn’t going to do the trick. Most employers get hundreds of applications for any given job, so they’re not going to give each one full consideration. They’re going to scan briefly, and then decide whether to put your resume in the “Yes” pile, or toss it. The conventional wisdom is that you have only a few seconds to make an impression. So you don’t need to do a complete rewrite, but you do need to target.

How to Target Your Resume

Start with that master copy of your resume—the one that’s geared to the specific industry/type of role you’re applying to. Now, follow these steps:

  1. Look at the job description.
  2. Highlight phrases and keywords that represent the skill set they’re looking for, and use them to decide which accomplishments you should take out, and which you should leave in.
  3. See if anything should be rephrased or expanded upon to match the company’s requirements.
  4. See if anything should be added to show that you’re a good fit for the company.
  5. Add a skills summary section to the resume, and again, make it company and position-specific.
  6. See how your resume fits the job description. Will the potential employer identify you as a good fit?
  7. Proofread carefully. Believe it or not, a misspelled word or poor grammar can cost you the job, and it would be a shame if you undid all that hard work just because you were sloppy.

You don’t have to rewrite your resume for every single job—that’s a myth. But targeting your resume to a specific position in a specific company just makes sense. It shows that you’re not just looking for work—you want to work for THEM. And you can bet that recruiters really appreciate that kind of interest.


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About the author

Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast

Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.

What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.

You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!

I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!

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