5 tips to tailor and update your resume

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Biggest resume mistake:

  1. Using the same resume for all applications.
  2. Sending a generic resume with too much information.
  3. Do not do this because:
    • recruiters will not read through your entire 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.

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. Including details that will 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 and job duties.
    • List down the job title, industry buzzwords (jargon), and verbs.
  2. Review your resume.
    • Choose the parts that fit the requirements.
    • Emphasize by placing 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 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. Avoid too much boldface or large font sizes (beyond 12 points).
  4. Aim for a professional look.

Edit, proofread, then edit again

  1. Ensure 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.
  3. Read: Tips when proofreading and editing your work.

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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