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Customize Your Resume and Cover Letter to Land The Job

Last updated December 19, 2023

When applying for jobs or internships, standing out from other applicants is key. Whether you’re a first-time job seeker or have had jobs in the past, you may be wondering what you can do to stand out to employers on your application materials. Since your resume and cover letter are usually your first impression on employers, there are customizations and tweaks you can make to stand out. Here are some tips for customizing your resume and cover letter!

Why customize?

Think of your resume and cover letter as a reflection of your personal brand and personality. Putting your best foot forward by customizing your application materials shows that you have a high interest in the job, are dedicated, and have the drive to succeed. These are all qualities that employers look for in job applicants! By tailoring your materials, you’re showing your value to a hiring manager rather than telling them.

What to tailor in your resume

There are a few key sections in all resumes. While you can keep some the same as you apply for a variety of different jobs– like your contact information and education– there are others you can tailor to stand out for the particular job you’re applying for.

The two key sections to customize for each resume you submit are your work experience and skills. These are the two main places where you’ll be able to both mirror the 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 in chronological order with the most recent experience first and going backward in time from there. The information within each work experience, however, can be a great place to make customizations. Hiring managers may only be able to read the first one or two bullets per work experience, so be sure to list the most relevant and important skills or actions from each experience first!

  • Skills. If you have specific, 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 experience you have with handling money or using a cash register in your skills section. Be sure to also list any languages you know and your level of proficiency. Being multilingual and able to interact with people from different backgrounds is a key skill that most all 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, your cover letter showcases who you are. This is a great chance to demonstrate your writing skills and tell the story of why you are the best person for this particular job! Just like your resume, tailoring your cover letter starts with research and reading. Things you can research and include in your cover letter are:

  • Keywords from the job description and the specific job title.

  • Relevant experiences in your past that mirror the experiences the employer is seeking.

  • Company values and culture.

  • Contact information for the hiring manager so you can include a name when writing your cover letter.

Another key thing to look for is if the job application itself has specific instructions for the cover letter. Some organizations may have specific questions they want you to address 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!

Helpful tips to land the job

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

  • Don’t repeat the same information on your resume and cover letter. By showcasing different things in each document, you can keep a hiring manager’s attention!

  • 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.

Any questions about customizing your resume and cover letter? Text us! Send #Jobs to 33-55-77 to speak with one of our job advisors!

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