In a competitive job market, sending generic resumes is a thing of the past. To stand out, it's crucial to tailor your resume to each job description, effectively showcasing your suitability for the role. But how do you adapt your job profile in your resume to match the job you're applying for?

You might be worried your graduate CV looks a little thin and vague. If you’ve bulked it up with part-time jobs and extracurricular activities that's great. But to really stand out from the crowd, specifically tailor your CV to each role you apply for.

A simple way of doing this is picking skills and attributes out of the job specification and ensuring your CV reflects them, showing through examples that you have the skills and aptitude required for the role.

It will be obvious to the hiring manager if you just copy and paste exact words and phrases out of the job description, so instead try to mirror the tone and key points in your own words.

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Understanding the Job Description

Before you can edit your resume to ensure it aligns with a job description, you must first thoroughly understand the job requirements. Look for keywords and key phrases in the job posting that describe the skills, qualifications, and experiences the employer is seeking.

As an exercise, take a look at the desirable skills section in the job description for a marketing assistant below.

Desirable skills

  • Business/commercial awareness
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills; both written and oral
  • An ability to work under pressure and manage own workload as and when required
  • Flexibility and an ability to adapt to changes in workflow demands
  • Drive, passion and tenacity
  • A desire to further own knowledge
  • IT literacy and experience of using design software - e.g. Adobe suite, as well as Microsoft Office apps
  • Analytical and numeracy skills

Review the text

Comb through the text carefully and think about what the employer asking and the ways you can demonstrate your suitability. It’s better, for instance, to offer examples of flexibility and adaptability than to simply say you’re flexible and adaptable.

Make a list of the keywords and phrases to use as your basis for writing about your past work experience, skills you’ve developed while at university, and in your cover letter.

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Use your own words

For instance, instead of saying you’re driven, passionate and tenacious (as above), think how you can echo this sentiment without using these words. ‘My career ambition is to develop a keen insight into the industry and set myself apart as an expert in my field’. This demonstrates your drive by showing you think long-term, your passion to grow professionally and your tenacity because you want to be the best at what you do.

Use keywords

On the other hand, it’s important to name hard skills accurately so that your resume will be picked up in any keyword search conducted by hiring managers or recruiters. The job outlined above requires specific software packages, so name them explicitly if you have those skills.

Use examples

This company is looking for someone with commercial/business awareness. Here’s a great chance for you to bolster your resume with some stats. Did you recognise an opportunity in your retail job or internship that led to increased business? Mention it.

Some examples might be ‘Exceeded sales targets by x% by featuring a specific product over Mother’s Day sales’ or ‘Implemented a weekly newsletter at a local charity that generated an X% increase in donations.’ It’s important to be specific and to use numbers if you can.

Tailor for the next job, too

If you don’t get the job you applied for, don’t be deterred – most people will go through many job applications looking for their first. Take the time to tailor your resume every time you apply for a job, and you’ll be on the right path to an interview.

Matching Your Job Profile in Resume to the Job Description

Adapting your resume to align with the job description helps demonstrate your suitability for the role. Here's how to do it:

1. Customise Your Resume Summary 

The summary is the first thing recruiters see. Make sure it reflects the key requirements mentioned in the job description.

2. Highlight Relevant Skills

Identify the key skills mentioned in the job description and ensure these are clearly demonstrated in your resume. Use concrete examples to showcase how you have utilised these skills.

3. Emphasise Relevant Experiences

Highlight your experiences that align closely with the job description. These should be front and center in your resume.

4. Use Keywords 

Including keywords from the job description in your resume helps you pass through applicant tracking systems (ATS) and catch the recruiter's attention.

Resume Job Description Examples

Providing examples in your resume can better demonstrate your skills and experiences. Here are a few resume job description examples:

Example 1:

  • Job Description Requirement: Excellent customer service skills.
  • Resume Description: "Managed a diverse clientele at XYZ company, consistently scoring above 90% in customer satisfaction surveys."

Example 2:

  • Job Description Requirement: Strong leadership and team management abilities.
  • Resume Description: "Led a team of 10 sales professionals at ABC organization, increasing overall sales by 20% over two years."

Effectively tailoring your resume to a job description is a skill that can dramatically increase your chances of landing an interview. By understanding the job description, highlighting relevant skills and experiences, and using concrete examples, you can make a strong impression and show potential employers why you're the perfect fit for the role.

For more CV writing tips, check out our resume advice hub.

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