It is recommended to customize your resume and cover letter for every job opening you intend to apply to.

This makes total sense.

However, such customization takes time. If I want to apply for jobs on a "marathon" (sending an application every other day), customization will take a lot of time and effort. I would like to find a balance between customization and not wasting too much time.

My questions are:

  1. How much time (on average) do you spend on customizing your resume/cover letter?
  2. What percent of "key words" that match job description do you have on your resume?
  3. How many versions of your resume/cover letter do you have?


  • 1
    When you write one application per day, you have a lot of time, don't you? Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 21:12
  • @Bernhard Döbler Why are you insulting me, Bernhard?
    – user136555
    Commented Apr 30, 2023 at 4:25
  • I didn't mean to insult you. I'm wondering how many hours you spend on one application and what you use the time for. Searching for a job opening and writing a custom cover letter are the two actions I think of. Commented Apr 30, 2023 at 10:38

3 Answers 3


Personalizing/customizing is what a cover letter is for. Your CV should just be a fact sheet of your live in chronological order, latest bullet point first.

The only point in customizing your CV (aside from lying to your future employer, which is frowned upon in most cultures) is to bring it to a certain arbitrary length to conform to an external requirement. "Not exceeding two pages" would be such a requirement.

The easiest way to do this for multiple applications is to have a detailed and a summarized section for each point in your CV in your base document. That probably exceeds any limit. My CV would be dozens of pages in that form. But that is where the actual work is. Then, depending on position and target page size/count, you select if you need details or just a summary for each point. In some cultures or industries, it might even be normal to completely delete irrelevant points. So for each point, pick details, summary or delete it. Repeat until you are down to the desired length.

The point here is to do the heavy lifting once in your full document that you never send to anyone (except for friends to review it for you) and then every two days just copy the document and delete sections until you are happy with the page count, which should be a simple numbers game and a no-brainer.

You will still have to write a custom cover letter if required. But you can probably have some text blocks you copy and paste into every one.

  • 2
    At least in my world (software developer in the UK), the cover letter has been dead for many years - there's not even an opportunity to write one. Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 7:56
  • @PhilipKendall - How are CVs normally sent? Are we being a bit literal with "cover letter", or have e-mails with a .pdf attachment (in which case the e-mail would be the cover letter) stopped happening in that world? Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 8:52
  • 2
    @ItWasLikeThatWhenIGotHere generally straight into some form-based applicant tracking system with (often) zero space for "any other comments" - and even if there is a space for such comments, no guarantee they'll be in any way visible to the recruiter/hiring manager. Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 8:55
  • 1
    Customizing your CV can also mean that you rephrase what you did in a previous job to better highlight how it fits the requirements of the new job. Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 13:36
  • 1
    @nvoigt -Thank you! it is a helpful answer.
    – user136555
    Commented Apr 25, 2023 at 5:03

The advice to customize for every position is relevant to times and to industries where candidates greatly outnumber the positions, or where position requirements are very specific.

If you're considering more than one kind of position or more than one industry, you'll probably have one resume for each. If you know very clearly what you want to be, e.g. a Java developer in the Fintech sector, one is fine.

Your resume usually doesn't change much between companies - only to highlight something very relevant. A cover letter is optional and you normally write it from scratch for every application.


If you have skills that mean you are targetting specific roles, then it makes sense to customize your CV.

For example - if I was applying to a company whos main line of Business was X, I would be prioritizing items in my CV and Cover Letter that were tangentially related to X.

However, if you are in the 'Any Job will do' stage of your life or your career (which isn't a negative thing) - then I wouldn't bother too much unless you see a job advert that really speaks to you.

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