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Customize Your Resume and Cover Letter to Land The Job

Last updated April 9, 2024

When applying for jobs, your resume and cover letter are usually your first introduction to employers. We'll share some tips on customizing both to express your interest in a job and highlight the skills and qualifications that make you the best candidate for it!

Why customize?

Customizing your resume and cover letter to the job you're applying for will clearly show an employer that you have the qualifications, skills, and experience necessary to do the job. It also demonstrates your genuine interest in the job and company! These are the essential things that hiring managers look for in candidates. 

What to tailor in your resume

While you can keep some sections of your resume the same for every job you apply for– like your contact information and educational background– there are others you should customize each time: your work experience and skills. These are the two main places where you’ll be able to both use some keywords from the job description and prioritize the information that is most relevant to the job.

  • Work experience. It is most common to organize your work experience section so that your most recent job is listed first, and others are listed backward in time from there. The tasks and accomplishments you write about under each job can be a great place to make customizations. Because hiring managers may only be able to read the first one or two bullets per job on your resume, be sure to list the most important information first!

  • Skills. If you have specific or technical skills that are relevant to the job description, be sure to list them on your resume. For example, if a customer service job requires familiarity with “point-of-sale” and handling transactions, be sure to list any cash register or money handling experience in your skills section. Be sure to also list any languages you know and your levels of proficiency. Being multilingual and able to interact with people from different backgrounds is a key skill that many employers value!

A person wearing a white sweater sits at a desk and types on a Mac computer - Customize Your Resume and Cover Letter to Land The Job

What to tailor in your cover letter

Your cover letter is the best reflection of your personality in any job application. If your resume shows what you’ve done or accomplished, your cover letter shows how and why. Your cover letter provides context to your experience and is an opportunity to match your skills to the job description and what an employer is looking for in a strong candidate. When drafting your cover letter, you can research and include things like:

  • Keywords from the job description.
  • Your connection to the company's values and culture.
  • The hiring manager's name for a more personal touch. 

Another key thing to look for is if the job application itself has specific instructions for the cover letter. Some companies may have questions they want you to answer in your cover letter or will want to hear specific details about past jobs. There is only one you, so be sure to allow your personality and passion to shine through your writing here!

Helpful tips to land the job

Here are some helpful tips to consider when submitting a job application:

  • Be organized and consistent across both documents. Small things like using the same fonts and approachable sizing can keep your documents readable for all.
  • Proofread, proofread, proofread! Attention to detail and clear communication skills are always important to employers, and the accuracy of your application is a great way to show that you have them.

Before you submit your job applications, be sure to send your resume and cover letter to Get Schooled for free review! We’ll have them back to you within a week with actionable, personalized feedback.

Have any questions about tailoring your resume or cover letter? Text #Jobs to 33-55-77 to chat with one of our advisors. If you're using a mobile device, click here to have the text message set up for you!

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