Like Buttons on a Coat: Tailoring Resumes for the Right Audience

By: Gina Anselmo, former career advisor for the DePaul University College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences

When considering tailoring a traditional resume to a more industry-specific and customized document, you want to think about what I call ‘buttons on a coat.’ Buttons on a coat is a phrase I usually say to my students to help them visualize how they want the reader to quickly form associations of their skills and value for a certain position and field. To make the best case for yourself, it is important to consider categories that steer the viewer to organize and seek recognition of key skills and experiences.

Back to Basics – Traditional vs. Customized

  • Traditional Resume – A traditional resume will have some of these basic categories: Contact information, education, work or internship experiences, and skills. While a customized resume will have these too, consider how you unpack your experience section further and can elevate the reader viewing you in a holistic light. In addition, think about all of the ways you stand out with technical and soft skills.
  • Customized Resume – A customized resume will show the reader how you specialize in a particular field. Common customized resumes tend to be created for teaching, counseling, IT, and healthcare fields, but certainly any industry can have a customized resume. The key is to consider which categories on your resume will make the most sense for your particular field and position.

Making Your Case – Resume Check List

In order to make the best case for yourself and strengthen how an employer will see you, it’s important to check yourself and brainstorm a few quick questions before you set your draft in motion:

  • The Bundling Effect: What relevant experiences can you group together? Consider what skills and experiences you want to highlight. For example, do you want them to see the range of teaching-related experiences, program development, or writing experience? Remember, the reader is looking at the document quickly. So, it will be important for you to be strategic and bundle the most relevant experiences together (paid and unpaid). If your experiences are much more broad and highlight different touch points in a particular industry or setting, it might make sense to highlight in a larger umbrella such as “Related Experience” rather than “Teaching-Related Experience.”
  • Pulling in Reinforcements: What other areas do you want to highlight? After you consider how you want to group your experiences (i.e. Teaching-Related Experience and Professional-Related Experience) think about how you want to close the loop and highlight other experiences and skill sets. For instance, would it make sense to consider sections on special projects, community outreach, related coursework, research experience, leadership, committee work, freelance, etc.?
  • Customizing the Customized: Is it too specific or a fit? Okay, this takes a little soul-searching. Consider how nitty gritty and literal you want to go on your resume. Does it make sense to consider a nitch category on your resume such as “Sustainability-Related Experience” or “Higher Education Experience?” Remember, not one size will fit all and you will want to consider if that nitch category makes sense when you share to multiple employers. Also, consider if it makes sense to just group it by work environment; is it really making a case for what skills you can offer to the perspective position or is it just sharing that you have been in a similar environment. Consider groupings that make the best case for skills and experiences first.

Show it to Your Sidekick

Finally, after you complete your industry-specific resume, be sure to share it with trusted sources in the industry and advising professionals specialized in reviewing these documents. It always helps to get a fresh perspective and hear how others are interpreting and viewing your skill sets. Guide the conversation and ask them what skills and experiences are clear, what is missing, and what information might still be unclear. Remember, if you share your resume with 10 different people, be prepared to get 10 different opinions! Weigh all recommendations and consider which suggestions make the most sense for you.

My Advice to You When Developing Your Customized Resume

Don’t worry if you feel like you’re playing musical chairs when crafting your customized resume. A benefit of creating an industry-specific resume is that you are highlighting different experiences and skills depending on the role and industry. What might fit into a “related” section might change and what is elevated in one resume might be more muted in another. Keep your customized resume fluid and edit your document in a way that gives you the best advantage for each new opportunity!

Are you interested in strengthening your customized resume? You can meet with a career advisor who specializes in supporting your college. You may also consider checking out our online college resume packets and connecting with an ASK mentor for advice!

Creating Your First Resume: A Step-by-Step Guide

By: Courtney Redd, DePaul University PR and advertising major ‘16, and Jane Bradley, health sciences major ‘17

Creating your first resume can be an intimidating task. According to researchers from TheLadder, employers spend an average of six seconds looking at your resume. So, how do you impress an employer enough in six seconds to secure an interview? Follow this step-by-step guide to make sure your first resume is compelling and marketable.


Think about past experiences that helped you gain useful skills. Focus on more than just paid work experiences; you can include volunteer work, internships, organizations, relevant coursework, class projects, and more.

Put it Together

Open a blank word document, avoid using a resume template, and begin to list all of your experiences by section. Some section headings might include education, work experience, activities, and skills. Make sure your resume is clean, consistent, and easy to read. Readability is everything when you’re working with a six-second window! To get more formatting ideas, check out the Entry Level Resume Guide.

Get Writing

Use bullet points to highlight your skills. A good bullet point starts with an action verb, is concise and specific, and addresses transferable skills relevant to the position you are applying for. View the Entry Level Resume Guide for more examples of bullet points.

Self-Critique of Best Practices

Use this check list to make sure your resume is application-ready!


Get Help

Peer Advisors are available to review your resume and provide feedback before you send your resume to employers. Walk-in appointments are available Monday-Friday in both Lincoln Park and the Loop. You can also email your resume to to receive feedback electronically.

While building your first resume can be a tricky and intimidating task, the Career Center is here to help! If you follow these five steps, you will be on your way to impress any employer in six seconds, and secure the interview you were hoping for!


College Hiring For Class of 2016

By: Tara Golenberke, marketing professional in the education industry, and former digital media & marketing manager at the DePaul Career Center

Preparing for life after DePaul, can you imagine it? Let us paint you a picture.

You’re decked out in your new work gear, clutching a portfolio that houses years of experience – The daily grind, the kindled dreams, the future goals and the pool of new connections. You’re ready for the job interview, and you’re confident knowing that the college-hiring outlook is, well, killer.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Job Outlook 2016 report, employers plan to hire 11 percent more new college graduates from the Class of 2016 for their U.S. operations than they did from the Class of 2015.

Not only is U.S. hiring going to increase for 2016 graduates, but respondents recruiting for positions outside of the U.S. also expect to increase hiring, based on report findings.

The final quarter is in full swing, and the reality of preparing for life after college is sinking in for this year’s graduating seniors. Fortunately, graduates, the job market is looking bright.

Degrees in Demand

Regardless of degree level, graduates of the business, engineering, computer and information sciences categories are most in demand, based on the report. Top degrees in demand by broad category include business, engineering, computer and information sciences, math and sciences, communications, and social sciences.

“Within the humanities disciplines, liberal arts/general studies majors are most in demand, with 94 percent of respondents indicating they will hire these graduates,” noted the report.

If your degree category or major is not listed among the “in demand,” don’t fret, as recruiters do not evaluate candidates based on this criterion alone.

What Employers Are Looking For

Work Experience

There is no question that employers consider work experience when hiring college graduates. According to the report, a very small pool of respondents – only 6.3 percent to be exact – said that work experience does not factor into their hiring decisions. Rather, a whopping 91% of respondents preferred to hire candidates with some type of work experience under their belt.

GPA Screening

According to the report, 69.3 percent of recruiters will screen candidates from the 2016 class, and a little over 70 percent of employers who plan to screen candidates by GPA will use a cutoff of 3.0. Although GPA has a strong influence, so do other factors including leadership skills, participation in extracurricular activities and written and verbal communications skills.

Power of Social Media

The trend of utilizing technology in the recruiting process ceases to waver. The report stated, “more than half of the respondents to this year’s survey plan to use more social networks and/or more technology in general in their recruiting methods.” Maintaining a professional online presence is more important than ever.

Career Exploration at DePaul

No matter where you are in your career search, whether it’s finding the right career path, arranging a portfolio, landing an internship or preparing for your first job interview, the DePaul Career Center is here to support you. Allow our advisors and professionals to share their wealth of knowledge about today’s employers and the strategies and tools you need to impress and ultimately achieve your career goals. Learn more about the Career Center and start connecting with alumni and employers today.

UPDATE: NACE just released new projections based on the Job Outlook 2016 Spring Update survey, which was conducted from February 10 – March 22, 2016. Employers now expect to hire 5.2% more graduates this year compared to the 11% they projected earlier. They also found the average number of job postings for the 2015-16 recruiting year is down compared to the 2014-15 year. You can find more projections based on the spring survey, here.

So far, the DePaul University Career Center has seen a 22% increase in the number of job postings this recruiting year over last. Visit Handshake to apply for jobs posted. The Career Center plans to monitor these projections as well as employer activity to continue to best serve DePaul students and their career search.