I spoke to a client recently who wanted a resume to “cover all the bases.” In other words, it needed to be general enough in case he wasn’t the right fit for the position he was applying for, he may be considered for other open positions the company had. This is a great way to get passed over for an interview! And if your resume doesn’t have the right keywords an employer is looking for, it won’t make it past the automated applicant tracking system they may be using.

Tailoring each resume to the position you are applying for by matching it to the job description is the best way. You probably have heard from an executive resume service that it’s important to do so, but in what ways are you supposed to match them? Here are some tips to consider when writing your resume.

Focus on Keywords in the Job Description

It’s time to grab your old-school highlighter, print out a hard copy of the job description, and make every keyword you can find. These keywords should describe the particular candidate the employer is looking for, as well as the strengths and skills you possess. Once you identify them all, plug them into your resume as high on the page as possible. Include as many keywords as you can, but be careful not to stuff too many of them in to make it sound unnatural.

Think Like the Reader

When writing your resume, you have to think about it from the reader’s perspective. They are looking for specific keywords, but they are also thinking about the company’s pain points and seeking a candidate that can address those. When writing, it can be easy to focus on your past experiences and accomplishments, without giving thought to what may be relevant to the position you are applying for. They want to see how you have solved problems in the past that they may have or how you have added value. If you have done it for someone else, chances are you can do it again. They aren’t necessarily interested in anything else. By looking closely at the job description, the best professional resume writers can identify what’s appropriate to mention and what should be avoided.

Discover What You Truly Want From A Job

A common misconception about writing an effective resume is it should be more general instead of focused. The idea is the more general your resume is, the better your chances are of landing another open position, even if you don’t qualify for the one you really want. This can lead to a sloppy resume and an unfocused job search effort. Taking the time to truly discover what you want from a job, from a salary standpoint, cultural standpoint, work/life balance and more will help you target your resume.

When tailoring your resume to a specific role, be clear about your career goals, think through what the reader is looking for, and focus on the keywords the job description has mentioned. Do this with every position you apply for, tweaking your resume carefully to address each employer’s specific needs. This is the best way to showcase your specific skills for a specific role.