How to Target Your Resume to the Job

We all know we need to dress the part when we’re applying for a job. Dress codes are different for job interviews in finance than they are in tech. But according to a recent article in U.S. News, the way you style your resume could be even more important than whether or not you wear a suit to meet the hiring manager.

bull's eye 

(Photo Credit: ogimogi/Flickr)

Regardless of which field you’re targeting, you want to make your resume readable by both humans and robots. That means including keywords that are big for that industry, and having a separate area that outlines your achievements.

“One of the biggest challenges job seekers have is that they write a resume that’s like a job description, and what they really need to focus on is achievements and not just the duties and responsibilities,” August Cohen, owner of GetHiredStayHired, tells U.S. News.

The format of your resume will be different, depending on where you’re applying. For example:

1. Traditional jobs: Think finance, banking, or corporate law. You can use a chronological, functional, or combination resume for these gigs, but whichever format you choose, put your work experience first and stick to a traditional look and feel. This is not the place to exercise creativity in terms of presentation. Save the candy bar resumes for…

2. Creative jobs: Whether you’re in advertising or architecture, a project-focused resume is probably best for you. Creative fields also look more kindly on funky resumes. To figure out whether or not an offbeat format or delivery method is likely to impress, you’ll need to get a sense of the culture at the company where you’re applying. Just remember that some HR software has trouble reading the fancy formatting and other bells and whistles, so have a second, plain-text version of your CV with a link to your portfolio ready to go, in case you need to apply through a company system.

3. Teaching jobs: Unsurprisingly, this is one area where your education and certifications should be listed right up at the top of your resume. advises following that with core competencies.

4. Tech/skilled jobs: The challenge for job seekers with a lot of skills is listing in them in a way that won’t turn off or confuse less tech-savvy readers. In U.S. News, Cohen advises breaking skills up into categories such as software, hardware, and languages.

Tell Us What You Think

What are your favorite resume tips? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

More from PayScale

Should You Lie on Your Resume?

Think Outside the Box: Creative Ways to Get Your Resume Noticed

The Anatomy of a Great Resume [infographic]