This is some text inside of a div block.
Aug 22, 2022
Sep 15, 2022

How to Write a Targeted Resume in 4 Steps

Lindsay Patton

Get your resume noticed among hundreds by creating a targeted resume. You can create a targeted resume in four simple steps.

A targeted resume is crafted with a specific job in mind. You ‘target’ the job you want by adjusting your resumes to only include skills and job histories relevant to the job.

You also need to stand out amongst your peers. Creating a targeted resume for each job application gets a hiring manager’s attention by showing skills and experience that match the job description and duties.

Target a dream opportunity with these resume tips.

1. Know the Difference Between General and Targeted Resumes 

Before creating a targeted resume, it’s important to know why it’s different from a general resume. Many job seekers were trained to include all work experience on their resumes, however, the workforce has drastically changed in recent years. 

Prior to the pandemic, millennials made headlines for their career habits. A 2016 Gallup report found millennials changed jobs more than older generations, with six in 10 respondents saying they were looking for employment opportunities at the time of the survey. 

While millennials were largely criticized for job hopping, the generation was actually ahead of the curve. In 2020, COVID ushered in layoffs, uncertainty and some major career reevaluations. In 2021, The Great Resignation was a catalyst for career changers, with 53% of adults quitting their jobs to go into a new field. 

This trend isn’t a bad thing, though. By seeking new opportunities, workers are upskilling and growing their resumes at a fast pace. And in doing so, they need a resume that highlights only the skills that are necessary for the job. 

Distinguishing between general and targeted resumes is simple: 

General resume 

  • Broadly presents a candidate’s experience
  • Typically includes all work history  

Targeted resume

  • Organizes and consolidates experience and skills based on the job
  • Only includes the most relevant experience 
  • Has a heavy focus on skills 

Organizing resumes based on career goals sets you apart from the competition. For example, a tech applicant should focus their resume on tech-related experience and skills. Let’s say that candidate also has landscaping experience. While landscaping is a unique skill to have, it is not relevant to a tech position. In this instance, the candidate can leave the landscaping experience off their resume to put stronger focus on their tech background. 

While you have to think deeper with targeted resumes, the payoff is worth the work. According to a TopResume study, candidates with professionally written resumes are likely to receive 7% more in compensation

2. Understand Which Skills to Highlight 

Candidates that stand out think creatively about their skills and how they translate to a specific job. This is not a step for you to gloss over — skills are just as important, if not more important, than a person’s job history.

When compiling a targeted resume, make hard skills the primary focus. Hard skills are anything that needs training to execute, and this specialization is incredibly valuable to employers. 

Examples of hard skills in tech include: 

  • SEO (Search engine optimization)
  • Copywriting 
  • Software engineering
  • Video filming
  • A/B testing

Also consider soft skills, which supplement and support your core skills — kind of like frosting on a cake. Many soft skills transfer from industry to industry. For example, the right candidate for a project-management position needs to be organized, assertive and have leadership qualities. While a store manager may not have traditional project-management skills, they know how to lead a team, keep a brick-and-mortar business organized and navigate customer concerns. These are problem-solving skills that hold value in almost any industry. 

A few soft skills for you to consider as you build your resume: 

  • Customer service
  • Leadership 
  • Conflict management
  • Creativity 
  • Critical thinking 
  • Time management 

When you think about your skills, it’s important that you assess ALL of your skills. What are the core skills needed for this job? Are there any unlikely skills that can translate to another industry? Analyze every skill and filter the ones that best apply to the job description. 

3. Create Multiple Targeted Resumes

Humans are naturally curious, and job seekers often look for diverse and challenging opportunities, meaning one resume won’t cut it. Digital marketers, for example, have experience creating content and marketing for multiple businesses and sectors. Let’s say a digital-marketing candidate has worked in health, education and pet care. If they are seeking opportunities in all three areas, it is helpful to have a resume for each industry or sector. 

Creating multiple resumes may seem like a lot of work, but the habit actually helps you cut down on time. Instead of creating a new resume from scratch, you can pull up one of your multiple targeted resumes and use it as a template, chugging and plugging as needed. 

Below are some examples of suggested resume templates:

ATS-proof resume

As mentioned above, applicant-tracking system (ATS) is software many corporate organizations and recruiting managers use to filter only the most qualified candidates. They are helpful in navigating high application volume, but pose challenges for candidates. The system will reject resumes for special formatting (graphics, colors or specialized fonts), not including an address, any unfamiliar acronyms and a host of other reasons. The best way to get past these systems is to have a stripped-down resume that focuses on job keywords and necessary skills. 

Small business resume 

With small businesses, you are typically emailing with a person directly, which means your application package can be a little more personal. In this situation, a headshot, colors and graphics can help create a feeling of familiarity, show off creativity and be attention-grabbing. Email correspondence is often more casual, as exclamation points and emojis can work their way into communication. In this situation, your personality is nearly as important as your skills, so be warm, friendly and professional. 

Field-specific resume

Tailoring a resume to a specific field positions you as an expert, which gives you a strong competitive edge. Going back to the digital-marketing example, two candidates could have the same skills, but one has more experience within the organization’s field. The candidate with the skills and field-specific resume is more attractive to hiring managers, so craft your resume with these details in mind.

4. Utilize Free Tools 

Spending time creating multiple targeted resumes seems like a daunting task, but as technology has evolved, more platforms have popped up to streamline the process. Teal’s Resume Builder is one of many features that assist with building a top-notch resume. 

With Teal, you can store your entire job history in one place, making it easy to build a targeted resume. The resume builder also has features like career insights and an Achievement Assistant to strengthen and optimize any resume. 

Once the job search begins, Teal can help narrow down the best opportunities with a job search planner tool. A downloadable spreadsheet that helps you focus your search, this tool allows candidates to track their progress. It also offers prompts to get you thinking about what you want in an ideal position. 

Teal makes every tool free to users, and provides additional resources to take your career to the next level.

Final Thoughts

Customizing a resume is a necessary strategy for the modern job market, as the average corporate position receives 250 applications.

Investing in a quality resume unlocks the door to opportunities. Many organizations utilize applicant-tracking systems (ATS), which is software that scans applications to identify the best candidates. While helpful for companies, this software creates a challenge for applicants, as 75 percent of resumes are rejected by ATS. Be sure to create a targeted resume to increase your odds of landing an interview.

Lindsay Patton

Lindsay Patton is a journalist, adjunct professor, podcast host and digital communicator who specializes in business and career growth.

We help you find
the career dream.

Career Hub


No items found.

Teal Newsletter

Subscribe for exclusive advice, updates, and news.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.


5 Women Share Their Inspiring Career Journeys on the Nonlinear Podcast

by James Stevens

If you're looking to make a career pivot in 2022, you're in good company. The Great Resignation (a.k.a. the Great Reshuffle) has people rethinking the type of work they're doing.