Steps of a Job Search- Step 5: Targeted Resumes

Toolbox with media icons in speech bubbles

Searching for a job can be overwhelming, and it is often hard to know where to start. There are many things you need to do to create a resume and search for a job, but you can break down the process into manageable steps.

Our “Steps of a Job Search” series highlights these steps. As we go through, follow along with Patricia and Nate (our fictitious examples) to see how it works.


In Steps of a Job Search- Step 3: Master Resumes, we went over the steps to create a master resume. In this post, we’ll go over how to use your master resume to create a targeted resume.

What is a targeted resume?

A targeted resume is a one or two page document that highlights your key skills, achievements, education, and past employment information. It tailors your experience for a particular job or industry.

Some examples:

A group of 6 people pose around a raised garden bed.
  • If you are applying to work as a gardener but don’t have much professional gardening experience, you could share examples of landscaping you’ve done for family and friends (or in your own yard) in a “Hobby” section on your resume.
  • If you are applying for a job in social services (for example: a teacher, personal aide, or for a non-profit), talk about your passion and history in a personal statement section (and in a cover letter), and make sure to include any relevant volunteer work to show you are a good fit in that field.  For instance, include experience such as volunteering in childcare at your church, but skimp on details about volunteering to clean dishes at the community pancake supper.
  • If you are interested in computer programing but do not have employment experience, share detailed information about the programing certificates you earned.

Targeted resumes and keywords

As you create a targeted resume, you should also be thinking about how employers might use applicant-tracking software. This software allows you to apply for jobs online, but also helps employers sort through applications by searching for relevant keywords in your resume and cover letter.

Read Understanding Applicant Tracking Software and  7 Ways to Optimize Your Resume for ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) to learn more.

Other targeted resume tips:

  • The general rule of thumb for resumes is the shorter, the better. Be succinct and make every word count.
  • Review your resume for errors and ask people to proofread it.
  • Save the final draft of your resume as a PDF so the format cannot accidently be changed before printing or emailing it to someone.
  • When you save a PDF of your resume, include your name and the position you are applying for in the file name (such as “Jane Doe_Glacier Credit Union Bank Teller”) rather than something generic and undescriptive (such as “resume” or “bank resume”).
    • This has a number of benefits:
      • 1) It will be easier for you to find the targeted resume later when you apply for a similar job
      • 2) It will be easier to make sure you’re emailing or uploading the correct targeted resume to the job you’re applying for
      • 3) Including your name in the document title will help the employer keep applicants straight

group of Telecom Toolbox icons

Targeted Resume Example: Patricia

After Patricia looked over her list of places she might want to work and list of open positions, she decides she will start with applying for bakery and teacher’s aide positions. She has experience in both fields, so she will create one resume that highlights her baking experience and a different resume that highlights her background working with children.

Patricia’s targeted resume: bakery

Patricia starts building her bakery-focused resume. She opens her master resume document, saves it as a new document, naming the document with her first name, last name, and the name of the bakery she is applying to—“Patricia Jones_Hamilton Bakery.” Once she has the new document saved, she starts editing.

Her most recent (and only) professional bakery experience is working at Mary’s Bakery, which she did for 10 years. Right now, her resume says this about her experience working at Mary’s Bakery:

“Duties: Prepared baked goods for store and orders; customer service; communicated with vendors and customers. Also assisted with on-the-job training for women in the Hamilton Correctional Facility pre-release program for five years.”

She knows she needs to add more detailed experience to a resume targeted for a bakery job. She reviews the bakery job post she saved, which inspires her to add details to her resume.

For example, the job post states employees should be willing to work early in the morning. She adds, “Opened bakery at 5:00 am for 6 years” to her resume.

a person behind the counter at a cafe talks with a woman standing in front of the counter.

The job post also states that employees should have good interpersonal skills. Patricia includes details about how she was responsible for answering the phones and taking orders from customers, for calling vendors to order supplies, and about baking with women from the Hamilton Correctional Facility pre-release program to demonstrate her history of working with people from diverse backgrounds.

Patricia’s other relevant experience is writing a baking blog. She blogs to share recipes she likes, but her master resume does not offer a place to highlight proof of performance. She creates an “Other Experience” section on her resume and shares information about her baking blog, including the URL.

Patricia also rewrites her personal statement to highlight how baking aligns with her professional goals of working with the public and creating a positive difference in the lives of others in the community.

Now that the baking part of her resume is updated, Patricia realizes the document is too long, so she edits the other areas of her resume. She removes some details of her duties as a teacher’s aide and deletes the Interests/Activities section.

Patricia’s targeted resume: teacher’s aide

Once Patricia is done with her bakery resume, she starts working on her teacher’s aide resume. She goes back to her master document, saves the file with a new title (her name and the school she is applying to), and starts editing. She has a lot of school experience but she adds some details inspired by the job posting. She also adds information on her personal statement about how she especially enjoys and is rewarded by seeing the people she worked with as students when she is out-and-about in the community.

Final steps: proofreading

When Patricia is done with her two targeted resumes, she shares them with a few friends and asks them to proofread her resumes. They catch two words that she accidentally misspelled, and have good comments. One friend reminds her of the time she baked 300 cupcakes for a fundraiser. She adds that detail to the “Other Experience” area of her baking resume. Another friend reminds her of the “outstanding employee award” Patricia received when she worked at the middle school, so she adds that to the “Awards and Recognition” section of her teacher’s aide resume.

When she is satisfied with her resumes, she saves them as PDFs so the formatting and information is not altered when emailing or printing.

group of Telecom Toolbox icons

Targeted Resume Example: Nate

Nate reviewed his list of job leads, which includes construction positions and working in the new convention center. He decides he is most interested in working at the convention center. The convention center seems like a good fit because he is a high school student now and he wants a part-time job with growth potential as his schedule changes.

Nate reviews his master resume. He does not have any experience similar to working at a convention center, but when he re-reads the job posting, he notices it says they are looking for people who are polite, responsible, and well-organized. He recognizes “polite, responsible and well-organized” as keywords that could be used with applicant tracking software, so he thinks about how to add them to his resume.

Nate decides that he can show that he is polite, responsible and well-organized by adding more details to the work experience section on his resume. In the section describing his job at McDonalds, he adds, “Met and exceeded high customer service expectations consistently, was always polite to customers.”

Red and pink foxglove flowers growing outside in a garden.

In the section describing his job mowing lawns for six clients, he talks about creating a system to manage his landscaping clients and adds, “Organized schedule to provide consistent and responsible service to customers.”

He also adds details to the Interests/Activity section to show he is familiar with events that will be hosted by the convention center, adding “Enjoys attending concerts and sporting events in Springfield.”

Nate asks his family members to review his resume. After he includes suggestions, he saves it as a PDF named ‘Nate Smith, Convention Center’ so it is ready to share.

group of Telecom Toolbox icons

Creating a targeted resume may seem overwhelming, but if you divide the tasks in chunks and build on your work, it will be manageable. You will find that the more resumes you create, the more material you have to draw from. It is well worth the effort to stand out from the crowd in your job search.

Also, thinking about what to include and not include in your targeted resume will help you think about which of your skills and experiences to make sure to highlight as you write a cover letter and prepare for a job interview.  

We will discuss another way to stand out for other applicants in our next post: Cover Letters.

Footer