Essential best practice for tailoring your CV

Written by David Smith

Careervisa | Professional CV Writing Services | Job Search Coach

If anyone described you as ‘off-the-peg’, I am sure you would feel pretty upset about that. After all, we are all unique, with a unique set of skills, attributes and experience, some USP that we offer an employer or organisation that makes us the clear candidate – or at least one worthy of being interviewed!

So, why would we present the same CV for every role we apply for?

True, whatever we have done in life is what we have done, we worked at such-a-place for so long, got X, Y, Z qualifications and certificates, but there are bound to be variations on the elements of our skill-set that would appeal to some roles or businesses over others, so it is vital that these nuances be brought to the fore – depending upon what we see in the job description.

How to Tailor Your CV | Application

What are some tailoring best-practices that will make reasonably sure our CV will end up on the ‘Interview’ pile?

It may be a little obvious, but the process starts with a thorough consideration of the content within the job description, we need to make a list of the keywords related to the general criteria to be filled by the ideal candidate.

It is so easy to skim over the details and very quickly upload the same CV you always use and pitch it into the ether and hope for the best, but that does seem more like wishful thinking rather than a clear job search strategy. Does ‘quick and easy’ always yield the best results?

Once you have a clear focus on what the recruiter is looking for, you can start to emphasize these skills and experiences within your CV.

For every single vacancy you apply for!!

The Recruiters Viewpoint

I know what you are thinking…this seems like a lot of hard work….

It is, but looking at this from the recruiter’s standpoint, he or she will be looking for good quality candidates with a good range of skills outlined within the job description.

If you don’t include this information – you will stand out less than someone who did take the time to implement this best-practice, it is that simple!

More scarily, depending upon the recruiter or organisation, your CV may be scrutinised by ATS technology – in which case, it is vital that you tailor each CV as the cold and unreasoning eyes of a bot will not be able to read between the lines or make any assumptions about you as a possible candidate!

Speaking as an experienced recruiter, accustomed to shortlisting from scores of applications, spotting the CVs that have been tailored is simple as they tend to jump out as such from the many, many ‘copy and paste’ type of applications that appear in my inbox.

What if I Don’t Meet All the Criteria?

Of course, tailoring is much easier if you fit the criteria perfectly, but that is quite rare – you tend to have a list of ‘must haves’ and a list of ‘it would be nice if you had….’

As long as you meet the criteria to a reasonable degree, it is usually worth taking some time to submit a tailored application.

How do you include keywords in your application for skills you don’t have or for experience you haven’t had yet?

If you are being asked to include a covering letter, then you have an ideal opportunity.

For example, if the job spec asks for experience with Xero, but you have used Sage, QuickBooks, then you can include a statement that says you have used Sage and/or QuickBooks and you welcome additional development to understand Xero, so you have included the keyword and added two more, plus your willingness to learn new skills!

Research the Business

As well as a careful consideration of the job description, researching the organisation will also provide some excellent ideas to fine-tune your tailoring process [sorry about the mix of analogies].

What is the organisation’s training and development culture? Do they mention their Inclusivity and Diversity policies? What is their ‘Mission Statement’?

Gleaning this type of information from their website is the first step, but you should also take a look at their social media feeds for up-to-the-minute intelligence on your target organisation.

The market is particularly tough at the moment, so it is absolutely essential to gain any edge possible, get your applications up on their tip-toes to stand out!

Help Available

Following just these few best-practices should improve the quality of your applications. Feel free to reach out to us if you are having difficulties with any aspect of your job search, we have the expertise to provide a thorough diagnosis of job search strategies.

During the pandemic, we are also offering a free, no obligation, 20-minute demonstration of how well your CV would perform during a live application, so drop a message to to request a slot.

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