5 tips to tailor and update your resume

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The biggest resume mistake:

  1. Sending the same resume for all applications.
  2. Having a resume with too much information, taking up more than two pages.
  3. Do not do this because:
    • recruiters will not have time to read through your resume
    • employers are looking for a specific set of skills
    • it shows that you did not follow the job ad
  4. Pattern your resume after specific needs written on the job ad.

What does “tailoring” your resume mean?

  1. Limiting information relevant to the job ad.
  2. Listing only the experience and skills related to the job you’re applying for.
  3. Emphasizing achievements, skills, and experience that make you a prime candidate for the position.
  4. Using specific keywords used by the prospective employer.

Review the Job Description

  1. Know the keywords from the job description in the ad.
    • Underline the job summary, requirements, and duties.
    • List down the job title, and verbs.
  2. Review your resume.
    • Choose the parts that fit the requirements.
    • Emphasize these parts by placing them on the top two-thirds of the page.
  3. Limit relevant job experience to the most recent (last 10 years).

Use powerful words and numbers

  1. Don’t use passive words when describing achievements or work experience.
  2. Don’t use: helped, handled, worked.
  3. Instead, use:
    • spearheaded
    • launched
    • collaborated
    • planned
    • implemented
  4. Clearly describe the impact of your past work.
  5. Mention specific figures when appropriate.
  6. Examples:
    • “Spearheaded a clean-up campaign boosting office efficiency by 25%”.
    • “Launched a new insurance product that contributed $2M in sales.”
  7. Avoid using overused adjectives like creative, excellent, motivated, and hard working.
  8. Don’t write: “References available upon request”.
  9. Don’t list your references on the resume.
    • Write their names on a separate sheet of paper.
    • Provide the list only when the employer asks for them.


  1. Use a simple and easy to understand format.
  2. Don’t make a decorative resume (unless it is for a design position).
  3. Aim for a professional look.
  4. Save your file in accepted formats, for example docx or pdf.

Edit, proofread, then edit again

  1. Make sure that your resume is error-free and concise.
    • Check spelling and grammatical errors.
    • Remove unnecessary words.
    • Short sentences are easy to understand.
  2. Ask someone else to proofread or do a final check if possible.
  3. Read: Tips when proofreading and editing your work for more tips.

Article updated November 22, 2023.
Sources: Optimize your resume if you want to get the job, Peter Weddle, Career Cast.com; Tailor, tailor, tailor your resumes, Taunee Besson, Career Cast.com.

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