resume customization

Ask Adrienne: How Do I Customize My Executive Resume?

Once you have a defined job target in mind, you need a narrowed and focused resume to support your search. Many of my professional executive clients are puzzled by the need for ongoing resume customization and ask: why do I need to customize my executive resume, and how is it done?

The reason for resume customization is simple: every audience is different, and every job posting has unique requirements that must be addressed.

You can’t use ‘any sized resume’ to apply for ‘any job’ any more than you can buy ‘any sized shoes’ to fit ‘any person.’ If the shoes don’t fit, the person can’t wear them.  If the resume doesn’t fit (address the audience’s needs), it may not be seen as a match for the job.

Resume customization ensures that unique role requirements are noted and related value is presented. Customization also ensures that appropriate keywords, key phrases, and related achievements are included in the file.


How do you customize an executive resume?  It’s easier than you might think.

After you have a well-written, modern resume, revisit it for every application. Have a job posting, analyze it carefully, and ask: “Does my resume address THIS employer’s needs?” If it doesn’t – customize. Retain the resume format and strategy but start from the top of the file and work down, addressing the following:


Match the resume headline to the job posting.

If you are targeting jobs as a Vice President of Operations, but one posting says “Operations VP” = then that exact job title needs to be in the headline of your resume. It’s a small variation but one that warrants customization.  A simple adjustment to the headline demonstrates the exact alignment between your resume and the target position.

Take stock of keywords and key phrases in the job posting.

Ask yourself, do the most common job posting words and phrases appear in your resume – in the exact form shown in the posting AND in potential variations?  Make small adjustments if needed.

For example, if a particular job posting emphasizes the need for “relationship management” and this exact term does not appear in your resume, but it’s a skill you have = add it.  Also, consider integrating related variations such as “relationship manager” or “stakeholder relations.”  Try to perceive what a person or system might be searching for.

Align resume language with industry speak.

You might be open to targeting an operations director role in manufacturing…or healthcare.  These are two diverse industries with unique industry terms. Adjust resume language to match industry requirements.

This doesn’t mean adding ‘buzzwords’ haphazardly to your resume; it’s about getting on the same page, language-wise.

Hiring personnel in the manufacturing industry do not want to read about healthcare terminology, specific healthcare systems, or precise healthcare project examples.  Instead, they want to read about your understanding of their manufacturing needs, systems, or processes.

Eliminate reference to non-related industry terms and share details that better apply.

Adjust points to share only the best and most related content.

If a few points in your resume do not align well with job requirements, don’t use them. Swap in points that do. Or customize them.

It’s ok to use one example for posting A and then modify or change it for posting B – if warranted.

Let’s say you are targeting a role as an IT director. One posting may emphasize experience with ERP software tools such as JD Edwards, and another may only request IT system experience.  You can adjust the resume as needed to include or not include specific system references.

Generalized statement: “Improved productivity 15% by championing the upgrade of IT infrastructure and software tools”.

Customized statement: “Improved productivity 15% by championing the upgrade of the internal ERP system to JD Edwards”.

Apply this subtle yet strategic content customization throughout your file.


Finally, don’t let content resume customization overwhelm you. Some job seekers take customizing too far and completely re-write their resume from scratch every time they apply for a job.  This is difficult, time-consuming, and unnecessary. Only minor content tweaks are needed if you have a stellar starter resume.

Looking for more help with resume customization? Check out my handy resume kit, which includes a resume customization guide: 

Need help writing a modern executive resume to compete for top roles? Check out this post on resume trends. Or, reach out to me to discuss. I write resumes that get executives noticed.

Adrienne Tom

Looking to take your executive resume or job search to the next level to get noticed and hired faster? I can help! Visit me online at to learn more about my award-winning resume writing, LinkedIn writing, and job search strategy services for top business leaders and executives located across North America.

Leave a Comment