By Bethany Stafford
Creative Consultant | Asheville, NC

Thanks for another opportunity to share some resume knowledge with you all! We’ve already had four great posts to help you spiff up that hot mess of yours. And though there are still many more secrets to unfold, you’re probably thinking you’ve got something pretty good to work with now. You’ve written, trimmed, and polished up one shiny resume, but the biggest mistake you can make now is to send it to every open job listing you can find on the internet. 

As you may have noticed on your job search, each job listing should have a very detailed very specific description written up for it. Human resource managers spend hours writing this job description in hopes that at least 3-5 applicants answer it closely enough to get an interview. In order to land that interview, your resume should be tailored to each and every job listing to which you reply. 

How to you tailor a resume to the job description? I usually follow these 3 simple steps:

1) Print out the job description. There’s something to be said about reading a set of words on the screen versus printing them out. If you’re serious about this job, I highly recommend pressing that print button. It’s essential to completing the next step.

2) Grab a highlighter. If you’re super organized, grab a few different colors and start searching for KEY WORDS—skills, experience, minimum qualifications, etc. When you’re done, you should have highlighted at least 15-20 nouns, verbs, and descriptors that describe that company’s perfect applicant.

3) Weave those key words into your resume where applicable. The more key words you can match, the more likely a scanner or HR manager will light up over your resume. Did I say scanner? I sure did! Some companies don’t even read your resume before dismissing it. Instead, they let a computer do the dirty work for them and your crazy keyword matching will beat them at their own game.

As you apply for 5 or more job openings, you’ll begin to realize that this type of work is tedious, but the results will blow you away! I’ve met countless job hunters who received little to no feedback after mass emailing out their resumes to hundreds of companies. You may have even experienced this yourself. But if you take time to tailor your resume to each job description, you can expect feedback from 1 in every 10 applications instead of 1 in every 100. 

Finally, before pressing submit, make sure you read each version of your resume out loud and have it reviewed by a friend or professional reference. Submit with an outstanding letter of recommendation, and you’ve got this in the bag. Best of luck!

Bethany Stafford is a creative consultant in Asheville, NC. Her background and experience in marketing and career services have helped numerous men and women create their personal brand across a variety of industries. Learn more about Bethany at