04 Jan Why You Need to Tailor Your CV Each and Every Time
You probably already know that it’s recommended that you tailor your CV to each specific job role you go for, but you might not know why. Or you might underestimate the importance of it.
Ensuring your CV hits the mark each and every time can save you a whole heap of wasted time and energy. Focusing your efforts and individually targeting your CV to a few truly relevant roles is a far better strategy than sending the same application out scatter-gun style to a whole host of potentials. Believe me, a recruiter can tell a generic application a mile off.
Tailoring your CV doesn’t mean that you have to rewrite the entire document for every application. It’s more about tinkering and tweaking things to enhance your skills and achievements in line with what the employer or recruiter is looking for. And the tips below should help you to do that fairly quickly:
Highlight the Key Criteria
Start by taking the job advert or job description and a highlighter pen. First off, read it in its entirety, then go through and highlight the 8-10 key attributes or skills they are looking for. Then look through your existing CV and highlight where your experience matches up (or add in notes in pen with additional info about the other expertise and experience you bring that you need to add in). You should find alignment and meet the vast majority of their criteria (and have explanations or ideas of why/how your experience falls short in the remaining areas). If you don’t match up in this way then this has been a helpful exercise in showing you there is no point going for this particular role. You’re just not going to make the cut and should focus your time and energy elsewhere.
Showcase Your Fit
You need to ensure that your matched key skills, attributes and experience are front and centre, clear to see on your CV. This might mean adding in new phrases and keywords. A great place to do this is in an initial ‘Profile’ or ‘Key Skills and Attributes’ section (remember, the top third of the first page of your CV is the most relevant and important area that will get the most attention). Having a ‘Core Skills’ area like this means you can quickly and easily tweak things each time by just adjusting bullet points.
Don’t rely on generic phrases; ensure you come up with unique sentences specific to you. Our blog post on creating your Unique Value Proposition can help you with this. That said, make sure you are speaking their language. Use some of the keywords that the recruiter or employer uses. Make your fit clear for them to see at first glance.
Cut, Cut, Cut
It’s important that your CV is specifically matched. That might mean losing some previous irrelevant experience, particularly early career history (but only if it really is superfluous). It might mean culling a few sentences here and there. Ensure that every phrase on your CV is relevant and useful to building the case that you are the right fit for this particular job. Don’t be afraid to delete. But at the same time, be wary of cutting too much. It’s a fine balance. You can keep a saved version of your previous CV so that you still have all that information to hand when you need to use it in the future to tailor things to a different role.
A CV Wardrobe of Ideas
It’s a good idea to tailor things from a saved main general CV rather than tweaking it from an adapted version each time which could end up in a total hash job.
One way to organise things is to create a CV Wardrobe folder that you keep on your system with guide notes about all your roles, responsibilities and skills. Keep that up to date as you go through your career and you will have a rich resource at your fingertips each and every time you come to rewrite your CV.