How to Customize a Resume to Get More Interviews

Seven seconds. According to a 2018 Eye-Tracking Study, that’s the average amount of time a job recruiter spends reviewing a resume. For a job seeker, this means creating a resume strong enough to catch a recruiter’s attention and prompt an invitation to interview.

So, what’s the key to ensuring your resume stands out from other applicants’?

Customizing it.

By customizing your resume to address what the employer is looking for and demonstrating how and why you are the ideal fit for that role, you are strongly increasing the likelihood of obtaining an interview.

Additionally, many employers use software called applicant tracking systems (ATS) to filter resumes based on the requirements of a role. This means job seekers must pass an initial electronic screen to move on to the next round of recruitment. Customizing your resume for the requirements of the position you’re applying for will help you pass through the ATS, help get your resume to a hiring manager, and ultimately in the door for an interview.

Here are a few tips to help you customize your resume to get more interviews:

  1. Refer to the job posting/description and compare your qualifications – When customizing a resume, read over the job description multiple times to make sure you have a clear understanding of the position. Then compare the description to your existing resume, noting any keywords, skills, or other qualifications mentioned in the job description that are or are not included in your resume.


  2. Tailor your resume to match key qualifications – After thoroughly reviewing the job description and making note of any accomplishments, experiences or skills listed in the description that aren’t included on your resume begin to tailor it by adding your most applicable experiences to each relevant area listed. In addition, remove any information that is irrelevant or redundant. Keep in mind, relevant experiences and accomplishments don’t only come from paid work experiences. They also come from internships, volunteer roles, extracurricular activities, and hobbies/interests.

    Also, if your resume uses synonyms of words included in the job description, be sure to replace them with words specified in the description. For example, if your resume says, “teach,” while the job description says, “educate,” swap it out so that your relevant qualifications are apparent to both recruiters and ATS reviewing your resume.


  3. Include a detailed “Overview” or “Qualifications Summary” at the top of the resume – Research proves that top-performing resumes, where recruiters spend the most time and focus, are those that include a detailed overview or summary statement at the top of the first page of the resume. Given the short amount of time most recruiters take to review a resume, it’s important for job seekers to share relevant accomplishments and experiences within the top-third of their resumes. This often means including a “Qualifications Summary” or “Summary” section that includes bullets highlighting your most impressive achievements or experiences. If recruiters don’t see relevant qualifications right away that match what they’re looking for, they’re likely to move on. Simply adding a summary section at the top of your resume can prompt a recruiter to keep reading.


  4. Demonstrate the employer’s values – While it’s very important to ensure you show how your skills and accomplishments align with the position you’re applying for, it’s also important to demonstrate that you understand and will fit well within the organization’s culture. Do research to find out more about an organization’s culture by reading the website, blog, news articles, or reviews you find on websites such as Glassdoor. What is the employer’s mission and how does this align with your values? Do they give philanthropically or are they involved in the community? What type of office structure or environment do they work in?

From there, tailor your resume to address some of these values. For example, mention specific projects you’ve led or worked on and volunteer activities you’ve participated in that align with the organization’s values. This can even be shared through a “Related Experience” section at the end of your resume.

If the office is in an open-office space, include a point about a project you worked on collaboratively. If this is a role where you would be working from home with little supervision, include a bullet in your summary section about your ability to work independently. Even still, if you are a person with a disability and know that an employer has expressed a commitment to disability inclusive hiring, you may choose to mention your leadership or participation in a disability-focused Employee Resource Group or other disability-focused organization.

Customizing a resume for the jobs you apply for will make you stand out to employers. The extra time you take to match your skills and experiences to an employer’s priorities and values demonstrate that you are serious about the job opportunity. This also helps hiring managers quickly see how well-qualified you are for a position and will make you more likely to receive an invitation to interview.

 For more on how to customize your resume to get more interviews, contact the Getting Hired team

Contributions to this blog were made by Andraéa LaVant of Solutions Marketing Group.