How to Tailor Your Resume for an Employer

To write a winning resume, figure out how to appeal to your target companies.

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With five candidates for every job, competition is fierce. Your online profile affects your chances to win interviews, but your resume is still the most crucial element of your job-search strategy. And tailoring your resume for each specific employer is one way to make sure you’ll stand out.

Here are five tips to help you figure out how to appeal to your targeted employers:

1. Study organizations’ websites. Companies spend a lot of time, effort, and money compiling their public relations profiles for visitors. Look for repeated words and phrases, taglines, and hints about their philosophical approaches. Some employers include videos or testimonials from employees to illustrate their corporate culture.

[See 10 Ways to Use Social Media in Your Job Search.]

What can you learn?

Is the company leadership-focused? Team-oriented? Do they value diversity? Is community service important? What are their goals? Do they specify problems they solve? What buzzwords appear multiple times on the sites? Studying the company’s official online presence offers a window for you to determine a) if the job is a good fit and b) how to market yourself for the position.

Mirror some of their language and values in your resume. For example, if the company highlights their commitment to community service, showcase volunteer activities on your resume. Also include keywords they use to describe themselves and their employees.

[See How to Rock Your Next Job Interview.]

2. Review LinkedIn profiles with your target job title. Look for key skills to include in your materials. Review information from employees working for similar organizations for suggestions of the type of work, skills, and accomplishments you should highlight to land interviews.

3. Identify your industry’s national and local conferences. Does your field have a go-to conference where big players offer insights and advice? Visit the conference sites, read speaker bios, and review session descriptions. Pick out the field’s “pain points,”—the problems they’re trying to solve—based on their conference topics. Address these issues and detail your relevant accomplishments on your resume.

4. Study job descriptions. Use Linkup.com, Indeed.com, Monster.com, CareerBuilder, LinkedIn’s jobs, and company sites to research job descriptions.(Look at job descriptions even if those positions aren’t geographically desirable. As long as the description appeals to you, you can use it to improve your resume.

[For more career advice, visit U.S. News Careers, or find us on Facebook or Twitter.]

Identify the buzzwords, key phrases, and re-appearing information. Does everyone mention cross-functional teams? Include it on your resume. Is there a particular software package your industry mentions in every job description? You need to know it, list it, and be able to illustrate how you used it.

5. Talk to people. Conduct informational meetings with people who work in your target field and ask what skills they use, what problems they face, and the types of qualities their organizations seek. Use the data you gather to enhance your resume. Targeting your resume with information to appeal to your next employer will give you the upper hand in a competitive market.

Miriam Salpeter is a job search and social media consultant, career coach, author, speaker, resume writer and owner of Keppie Careers. She teaches job seekers and entrepreneurs how to incorporate social media tools along with traditional strategies to empower their success. Connect with her via Twitter @Keppie_Careers.

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