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How to tailor your CV for the job you want

  • Publish Date: Posted over 7 years ago
  • Author: Sue Pallot

​Tailoring your CV to individual roles is absolutely crucial in the current job market. Your aim is to stand out, and a cookie-cutter CV is not going to help you do so. Recruiting agencies can spot one a mile away, and do not find them either professional or convincing, so follow these tips to make yours unique to each role for which you apply.

Read carefully

If every job posting was the same, there’d be no need to modify your CV. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. They will have been written with an ideal candidate in mind, so make sure you read each one through thoroughly so you understand the precise requirements and responsibilities. You need to answer the implicit questions within each job posting, so print each one out and keep referring back to it as you write. Make sure that you’re responding to each point.

Find names

A CV should come with a covering letter, or it could just be sent straight to a certain person via mail or, more commonly, email. If you can get the name of the person who will be reading it, you’ll have impressed them right away. See if you can find that information by looking online; Twitter profiles and company ‘About’ pages are usually useful in this regard. Alternatively, phone up the company and ask who applications will be addressed to.

Use keywords

Forbes estimates that recruiters only spend an average of 6.25 seconds looking at a CV. That means that they are scanning instead of reading, so you need to think in terms of keywords. Try reflecting the most unique ones used in the job ad itself, then work them into your own writing. You should normally look at keywords that link directly to the role, not just generic attributes like ‘ambitious’.​

Rework experience

You should never lie about prior experience, but you can cherry-pick the facts that you share. If you’re looking for office work but previously worked in a restaurant, talking about how you had to make customers feel welcome isn’t ideal. Instead, write about all the tasks you had to do at once, then emphasise the numerical skills that were required.

Employers want to find the right person, so they’ll write a job ad to attract them. A successful candidate will be the one who meets the requirements they set out, so don’t aim in the wrong direction.