Targeted Resume: 3-Step Strategy To Land Your Dream Job

Published on: 25 September 2020 Last updated: 3 November 2020

You’ve probably heard that tailoring your resume to the specific job opening significantly improves your chances to land a job interview.

This tailored resume is called a targeted resume. And it’s incredibly effective: when done right, you basically leave recruiters no choice but to shortlist you.

In fact, a survey from Career Builder revealed that 63% of recruiters want you to tailor your resume to the open position.

But there’s a challenge: you have to tailor your resume to every position you apply for. And that can take a lot of your time.

That’s why the majority of candidates are not doing this and use a one-size-fits-all resume that they send everywhere. Ironically, that makes the targeted approach even more effective.

In this step-by-step guide, we share a process that lets you quickly and effectively adjust your resume for a specific position thus significantly increasing your chances to land an interview.

But first, let’s cover what exactly a targeted resume is and why it works so well with recruiters.

Enhancv Targeted Resume: 3-Step Strategy To Land Your Dream Job

What Is Targeted Resume And Why It Works So Well?

A targeted resume is a resume specifically tailored to the job that you want. Due to being framed to a specific job position, a targeted resume has a higher chance of passing both the HR manual selection process and automatic ATS systems designed to filter out irrelevant applications.

Here are some of the benefits of a targeted resume:

  • Get shortlisted by recruiters. By framing your resume in a certain way you outshine candidates with more generic one-size-fits-all resumes.
  • Easily pass automatic HR filters. Recruiters are using ATS systems to automatically filter out candidates based on predefined keywords. A targeted resume easily passes all checks with flying colors.
  • Become better prepared for an interview. When preparing a targeted resume you learn more about the recruitment process and increase your chances of landing a job.

But why does a targeted resume work so well? Don’t recruiters notice when you are trying to frame your experience in a certain way?

They do notice. In fact, they want you to tailor your resume. As mentioned before, up to 63% of recruiters favor candidates with targeted resumes.

Why?

Because targeted resumes make a recruiter’s job so much easier.

On average, every open position attracts from 200 to 300 resumes, and there’s no way a recruiter will be able to thoroughly study every applicant’s resume.

Instead, recruiters will go over all resumes and pick the most relevant ones, filtering the majority of candidates out within mere minutes and moving only about 10% of candidates to the next stage.

A targeted resume is your shortcut to becoming one of these ~10% shortlisted candidates.  

And yet, the majority of people are still using only one resume.

That’s understandable — you can waste hours if you start tailoring your resume every time you apply for a new position.

Fortunately, we outlined this 3-step process that allows you to effectively study job descriptions and quickly build resume relevancy through simple and highly effective tweaks.

Want to significantly improve your chances of getting a dream job with a targeted resume?

Follow these steps.

Step #1: See Through The Job Requirements

When you look at job openings, what’s the first thing you look at requirements, skills, or information about a company?

It’s better to be all of the above.

Yet often candidates scan only job requirements to see whether they are a good fit — and stop at that.

Don’t stop at job requirements. Read the company bio, check other job openings from the same company, and try to get as much info about the company as you can from other sources, e.g. its website, social media, or LinkedIn page.

Because the more you know about a company, the more comfortable you will feel when tailoring your resume.

For example, studying several job openings from the same company allows you to see whether a company uses a conservative or more casual tone in their listings.

With that knowledge, you can mimic the tone in certain parts of your resume and score extra points with people who’ll be reading it. [more on that in Step 3 of this guide]

Enhancv Targeted Resume: 3-Step Strategy To Land Your Dream Job

Notice that while Company #2 claims to be creating fun products, it’s actually Company #1 that’s using conversational and direct tone in their openings.

Pro Tip: when job descriptions are written in casual style, more often than not it means that it was written by a founder and not a hired recruiter. Mimicking casual style to a degree may give you an extra boost in case your resume will be reviewed by a founder. E.g. instead of the formal “Marketing Manager” headline you may use “Trust Me — White-Hat SEO Knights Are Still Here” Calculate the risks!

Every line of work requires not only certain skills but a mindset. Simply copying words from the job description won’t present you as a great developer, designer, or a salesman.

Subconsciously or not, recruiters already know what kind of candidate they want for the job. You just need to think the same way they do and fill the profile.

Here are a few tips on how different specialists should be tailoring their resumes:

  • Creative jobs: Designers, animators, and even brand managers: formatting is your best friend. Don’t be afraid to add some color to your resume and use creative layouts to stand from the crowd. Your job literally screams for it.
  • Sales jobs: your job is selling, so the first thing you need to sell is your skills. Persuasive tone and numeric results throughout your whole resume will help you stand from the crowd of “successfully fulfilled quotas” applicants.
  • Tech resume: this is where your company research pays off the most. Study the company’s tech stack and prioritize the adjacent technologies in your Skills and Achievement sections.

Follow these steps to quickly target your resume to the position:

  1. Learn more about the company you’re applying for and its other jobs. Make a note about the tone that the company uses for its listings. (5 min)
  2. Think about how recruiters see their ideal candidate for the position. (10 min)
  3. Make a mental note of what you can improve in your resume to fill the ideal candidate profile.

Spending 10-15 minutes on researching your target company will save you lots of time when tailoring resume and allow you to spot hidden opportunities to grab the recruiter’s attention (more on that in Step 3 of this guide).

Now it’s time we look at our Experience section up close.

Step #2: Frame Your Experience Section The Right Way

The experience section is the bread and butter of your resume: the majority of recruiters will be looking at it right away.

There are two main things to look for when it comes to tailoring your Experience section to the job opening: keywords and workflows.

Keywords are the gist of the Experience section. These are the pillar words that are specific to every job and when used properly they can instantly boost your resume relevance.

The most common keywords for tech jobs are technology abbreviations such as programming languages, platforms, and frameworks: jQuery, PHP, C++, Scrum, Microservices, etc.

For a sales resume, the keywords might be cold calling, quotas, Salesforce, customer rapport, conversion, CRM, etc.

To identify keywords simply think about the most generic job description ever, and then identify what keywords are making your job description more targeted towards experienced professionals.

Every job description has keywords. Identify them and make sure your Experience section contains a good portion of them.

Example: here’s a Sales Manager job description taken from Indeed. Let’s identify the keywords that make this job posting sales-specific.

  • Achieves sales operational objectives by contributing sales information and recommendations to strategic plans and reviews; preparing and completing action plans; implementing production, productivity, quality, and customer-service standards; resolving problems; completing audits; identifying trends; determining sales system improvements; implementing change initiatives.
  • Meets financial (sales) objectives by forecasting requirements; preparing an annual budget; scheduling expenditures; analyzing variances; initiating corrective actions.
  • Establishes sales objectives by creating a sales plan and quota for districts in support of national objectives.
  • Maintains and expands customer base by counseling sales representatives; building and maintaining rapport with key customers; identifying new customer opportunities.
  • Recommends product lines by identifying new product opportunities, and/or product, packaging, and service changes; surveying consumer needs and trends; tracking competitors.
  • Implements trade promotions by publishing, tracking, and evaluating trade spending.
  • Updates job knowledge by participating in educational opportunities; reading professional publications; maintaining personal networks.
  • Accomplishes sales and organization mission by completing related results as needed.

Using these keywords in our Experience section will instantly boost our resume relevancy.

Bonus: by adding some of the keywords from the job description to our resume we also get a higher chance to pass automatic ATS filter systems.

We will use some of these keywords later when we build our Experience section.

The next critical component of our Experience section is workflows, i.e. what exactly did you do at your previous jobs.

Some candidates simply copy workflows from the job description with minimum alteration. That’s a huge no-no: your resume immediately becomes bland and fake.

Instead, use your target job description as an inspiration and write your workflows for impact using this formula:

Accomplished [A] as measured in [B] by doing [C]

Don’t forget to include keywords identified earlier. Here are some of the workflows we created for the mentioned Sales Manager position:

Experience section – Wrong:

  • “Implemented trade promotions by publishing, tracking, and evaluating trade spending.”,
  • “Established sales objectives by creating a sales plan and quotas”,
  • “Maintained and expands customer base by counseling sales representatives”


Tip: For some positions, such as tech, the Skill section is as important as the Experience section. Make sure to study the company’s tech stack and list the most relevant tech skills that you have first.

Experience Section – Right:

  • “Exceeded financial objectives by 20% three years in a row after implementing automated action plans for target segments within the company CRM”,
  • “Partnered with the development department to create a sales forecasting dashboard based on weekly consumer survey data which led to reduced advertising costs by 40%”,
  • “Trained a team of six sales representatives that consistently hold the #1 spot for the most effective sales team in the branch“

Follow these steps to quickly target your resume to the position:

  1. Identify keywords in the job description that will boost the relevancy of your resume
  2. Study the job description to understand how to properly frame your past experience
  3. Create workflows that include keywords from the job description and follow the im[act formula

Step #3: Perfect Your Targeted Resume With Three Quick Tips

The following tricks will get your resume from “good” to “desired” in under several minutes.

See how you can grab recruiters’ attention, guide their attention, and easily check whether your resume passes robot filters.

Tip #1: Write a Custom Headline

The headline is a short sentence at the top of your resume that can make all the difference when it comes to creating a job-winning resume.

Enhancv Targeted Resume: 3-Step Strategy To Land Your Dream Job

Due to its unique position at the top of your resume, the headline creates sort of a “halo” effect for the rest of your resume and helps recruiters to perceive you in a certain way.

The best part is you need mere seconds to rewrite your headline for a specific position.

Did your research show that the company relies heavily on data?

Here’s the appropriate headline:

Performance-driven marketer within the constant search for actionable data

Is your target company a quickly growing startup?

Front end developer with vast experience in scaling digital systems

Below are some of the custom headlines our customers used to land job interviews:

Tip #2: Adjust Resume Layout

Recruiters scan your resume from top to bottom and from left to right. By rearranging resume sections in a certain way you can control how recruiters will scan your resume.

For example, when you don’t have much experience in the field or apply for an internship, you can easily put the “Education” and “Projects” section before the “Experience” section

This way you score extra points with recruiters before they even start thinking that you don’t have enough experience.

Akshay did that with his Tesla internship resume:

Enhancv Targeted Resume: 3-Step Strategy To Land Your Dream Job

And if you think that your soft skills will give you an edge over other candidates for an analyst position, why not put this section forward just like Julian at PwC did:

Enhancv Targeted Resume: 3-Step Strategy To Land Your Dream Job

Consider putting “Technical skills” before “Soft skills” for tech positions and “Soft skills” before “Education” for sales positions.

You can rearrange resume sections within our resume builder as many times as you need.

These changes can be made on the fly and yet you will have control over what section you want recruiters to see first.

Tip #3: Perform ATS Scan Yourself

Why couch your luck with automatic HR filters when you can perform the scan yourself and see whether your resume won’t be rejected by a robot?

Use our free resume scanner that will check your resume against your target job description and tell you whether you need to improve anything.

Targeted Resume Example: Effective Targeted Resume In Under 30 Minutes

Let’s go through all the steps once again and create a targeted resume that fits the target job position perfectly.

  1. Research target company
    1. Learn more about the company you’re applying for and its other jobs. Make a note about the tone that the company uses for its listings. (5 min)
    2. Think about how recruiters see their ideal candidate for the position. (10 min)
    3. Make a mental note of what you can improve in your resume to fill the ideal candidate profile.
  2. Tailor Experience section
    1. Identify keywords in the job description that will boost the relevancy of your resume
    2. Study the job description to understand how to properly frame your past experience
    3. Create workflows that include keywords from the job description and follow the impact formula
  3. Get Your Target Resume To Perfect
    1. Change custom headline at the top
    2. Restructure resume layout to put the most critical sections for the job upfront
    3. Change the color theme and use bold font to emphasize critical points for the recruiters

Below is an example of how Louis quickly tailored his resume to the performance marketing position using Enhancv resume builder:

Enhancv Targeted Resume: 3-Step Strategy To Land Your Dream Job

Below are the answers to the most commonly asked questions about targeted resumes.

How to write a targeted resume?

The process of writing a targeted resume consists of three main parts: researching the company and the position you’re applying for, tailoring the Experience and Skills section, and guiding the recruiter’s attention by rearranging sections and applying additional formatting.

When is a targeted resume not advantageous?

Targeted resumes give you no advantage when it becomes too apparent that you simply used a job description to fill in parts of your resume. Instead, you should spot keywords that make the gist of the position description, get inspired by the target job description, and use keywords to add relevancy to your past job experiences.

What is the best definition of a targeted resume?

A targeted resume is a resume specifically tailored to the job that you want. Due to being framed to a specific job position, a targeted resume has a higher chance of passing both the HR manual selection process and automatic ATS systems designed to filter out irrelevant applications.

How to write a targeted resume for a new position

In order to save you time on writing a targeted resume for every new position you apply for, follow the three-step approach to quickly adapt parts of your resume to the job: research, frame, and adjust. All the steps are covered in detail in our guide “Targeted Resume: 3 Steps To Landing Your Dream Job”. The more you follow the approach the faster you’ll tailor your resume every time.

Kal Dimitrov

Kal has 10 years of experience as a marketer and lecturer in youth leader organisations, with a focus on career and job skills enhancement. He has written and edited over 100 resume creation guides for different jobs. Kal is also a co-founder of a career accelerator hub that helps students and recent graduates excel at job interviews and get the job of their dreams.

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