Tailoring Your CV to Suit the Occasion

By David Smith

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If it wasn’t absolutely essential to constantly tweak, refine and tailor your CV, then my day would be spent with hammer and chisel; etching skills, experience and achievements into blocks of granite.

Thankfully, in terms of tiring labour and prohibitive postal costs, this isn’t the case. But why is it necessary to be constantly adding, shifting, re-ordering and generally updating and amending your CV? Why can’t a CV be copied, pasted and used in a Rolling-Thunder-esque job search campaign?

The Perfect Job

First, let me run a scenario past you to see if it sounds familiar. You have seen a great job advertised online, after reading the job specifications, you conclude “I can do that…that sounds like an awesome job!”

Off goes the CV and you sit back and wait for the phone to ring [or for your inbox to chime], but as time passes without hearing anything, or even worse, you receive a generic email informing you that “…because of the high number of outstanding applicants…yadda yadda…”

What happened? You were perfect for the job!

Retracing Your Steps

Logically, it can’t be the recruiter to blame, they only have the information that you present them with, and although recruiters are pretty good at reading between the lines [worked at ‘company X’, therefore, must have ‘experience Y’], but assumptions, especially in the world of recruitment, can be very costly.

So if you are experiencing the scenario outlined too often, it could be any of these 3 issues.

One: Your CV did not match the job specification adequately.

Two: You didn’t impress the Robots! If you have no idea what I am talking about – click here for more detail.

Three: Who knows, maybe there really was “…a high number of outstanding applicants..”

Actually, the most likely options are one and two. Three being just an empty sack of over-used platitudes!

How to Turn Things Around

In this post, I am just going to deal with number 1 on the list, here are 4 things you need to do before clicking on ‘Submit Application’.

Deep analysis of the job specification and description, try to centre in on what the main keywords are that really tell you what is involved in this role. Try to mirror what the recruiter is asking for, without copying it verbatim…that’s just cheating!

Some job specifications give you a list of ‘Essentials’ and ‘Desirables’, elements that should be present within your particular set of experience and /or qualifications – make sure that you feature all of the essentials and as many desirables as possible.

If your role requires lots of abbreviations, industry specific terminology and such, it is wise to explain the acronyms etc, just so that they don’t get missed, the recruiter may not have a full knowledge of the industry. An example was a vacancy I noticed that needed a ‘knowledge of PPC’ – the author of the vacancy had included ‘paper click’ in brackets…enough said!

It is wise to research an organisation before you contact them, this can help you carry out some really specific tailoring of your application. Do all you can to make yourself a great fit with their objectives. Check the website, especially any ‘mission statements’, but you should also check out their Facebook page, Twitter feed and Linkedin company page, great places to mine information.

Of course, if you would like a free keyword analysis on how well your application would perform against a particular vacancy, just send me a link [and your CV]!

In Short

To summarise…stop flinging your CV around, hoping that it will miraculously find the target, this may only increase any building frustration that you are feeling.

In my experience, the best applications, which are most likely to attract an invitation to interview, are carefully planned and never dispatched without checking, double checking, second and third opinions…the harder you work on this, the higher quality your application will be!

As always, please tweet any feedback @Careervisa or connect with me on Linkedin, or just drop me an email – dave@careervisa.co.uk

I hope that this was helpful!

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