When you’re applying for jobs, your resume needs to communicate your value to each job you apply for. Many job seekers wonder if they need different resume versions for different jobs. The answer is no for most job seekers--but that doesn’t mean you should make the common mistake of sending out the same version of your resume for every job.
Instead, our experts suggest that you should have one version of your resume with a clear career target, and tailor that resume to every job you apply to. The bulk of the information and formatting should remain the same, but your specific skills and experience can change.
In this post, we’ll explain why you most likely only need one version of your resume. We’ll briefly talk about when you may need to have two or more versions of your resume. Finally, we’ll share our top five tips for tailoring your resume to different positions with examples.
Why you only need one version of your resume
For the best results, your job search should be focused on a single career target. When you’ve clearly defined your career goal, your resume will be highly-targeted and get you noticed more often. On the other hand, an unfocused or general resume is unlikely to pass an applicant tracking system (ATS) scan.
Your career goal should specify the industry you’re interested in, the role you want, and the kind of company you want to work for. This goal should not be written anywhere on your resume--just use it as a guideline. Take some time to think about how your education, experience, skill set, and accomplishments support your goal. This is the framework for your single resume.
You can build a flexible resume, or you can make minor changes to your resume as you apply for jobs. In either case, you use the same basic resume with modifications to apply for each job. Your experience should include plenty of hard skills, soft skills, and achievements that will appeal to both a hiring manager and a computer scan.
Take the time to make sure your resume is formatted for ATS success by using an updated word processor, a simple layout, and submit it is a Word doc. Read all our formatting tips here: How To Get Your Resume Past an Applicant Tracking System.
We also offer a free resume review tool so you can see how your resume looks to an ATS.
Why would you need two or more versions of your resume?
You may need multiple resumes if you have multiple career goals. This can happen if you’re interested in switching careers, but not committed to it. You could have one resume for continuing in your industry, and one resume focused on transferrable skills for another industry.
Another example of when you may need two or more resumes is when applying for your first job. You may be interested in multiple positions related to your new degree, or interested in the same position in different industries.
In general, you want to keep your career goals to a minimum. While you can have multiple versions of your resume, you can only have one LinkedIn profile. For both resumes and LinkedIn, the more specific your goals, the better your outcomes.
How to tailor your resume for different jobs
Your resume should be tailored for each job you apply for by including certain keywords. The benefit of applying for similar jobs with the same career goal is that you won’t have to edit the bulk of your resume, which saves you a lot of time. Instead, look for opportunities to quickly switch out keywords that both an ATS and a hiring manager are looking for. We’ve identified five valuable keyword opportunities below.
Top 5 places to tailor your resume
1. Your resume title
Your resume title (highlighted in the example below) is a hugely valuable opportunity for tailoring. You can change it to match the job you’re applying for--even if it isn’t a job title you’ve held before--as long as it’s related to your work experience.
You can follow your resume title with a short phrase that adds additional keyword opportunities and quickly describes your value as an applicant. Consider your specialties, hallmark skills, industry recognitions, key achievements, and other relevant information that help you stand out.
2. Your summary
Located below your job title but above your core competencies section, you have four to six lines of text to answer the job description. The rest of your resume will support your claims. If you say you have 5 years of experience, make sure your resume details five years of experience.
This is also the place to state that you meet the required education and hard skills exposure you need for this job. You don’t want to be redundant, but you do want to quickly summarize what makes you perfectly qualified for this job.
Be careful to avoid too many of these 15 buzzwords that hiring managers hate.
3. Your core competencies
For the most part, your core competencies will remain the same on the resumes you submit. However, this is a good place to match keywords from the job description exactly. If a job description asks for experience with Online Media, switch out that term for Digital Media in the example below.
4. Your experience
Don’t rewrite your whole experience section, but compare your resume to the job description. See if there is anything you left out that is relevant to this job.
If a bullet point doesn’t relate to this specific job, you can delete it. Put your most powerful resume bullet point first: that’s where the hiring manager will see it clearly. Adjust the order of your accomplishments as needed.
5. Your keywords throughout
Keywords are what will get your resume into the hands of a hiring manager. How you use those keywords will impress the hiring manager and earn you an interview request. Don’t just say you have a certain skill: explain how you’ve used that skill and what result was achieved. Give your skills context to truly stand out.
Most job seekers don't need different versions of their resume: just a single resume that can be easily tailored to different positions. Remember that your resume needs to contain information that's relevant to the position you're targeting. Finding a job is challenging if you send the same resume to each position you apply to.
You will begin to see those interviews roll in when you take the time out to carefully tailor your resume to each position.
Good luck with your job search!
The ZipJob team is made up of professional writers located across the USA and Canada with backgrounds in HR, recruiting, career coaching, job placement, and professional writing.