Customize Your Resume

Simple Steps to Help Customize Your Executive Resume

Once you have a defined job target in mind, you can write a narrowed and focused resume to support your search. However, customization of your executive resume may still be required throughout your search.

A lot of my professional clients are puzzled by this and ask: why is customization still required in a well-defined resume?

The answer is simple: every audience is different, and every job posting has unique requirements that need to 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 audiences’ needs) it may not be taken seriously by the hiring manager or screened as a match within an Applicant Tracking System (ATS).

Customizing content covers off unique role requirements. It ensures appropriate keywords, key phrases, and related achievements are included. It confirms that the content is ‘speaking the same language’ as the reader.

How do you customize a resume?  It’s actually easier than you might think.

Have a job posting in hand, 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:

Ensure the resume title is an exact match to the job posting.

If you are targeting jobs as an operations director, but one posting says “Operations Director, Manufacturing” = that needs to be the exact title of the resume. It’s a small variation, but one that warrants customization.  A simple adjustment to the title demonstrates the exact alignment between your resume and the target position.

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

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?  For the most part, they likely do, yet taking the time to consider these is important.

For example, if a particular posting emphasizes the need for “relationship management” and this 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 scanning 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. Ensure resume language is adjusted 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 level of 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 the 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/change 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 one posting 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”.

This subtle, yet strategic, content customization can be applied throughout your file.


Finally, don’t let content customizing 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. If you’ve had help developing a  stellar starter resume only minor content tweaks should be required.

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.

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