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Andrew Fearnall of StandOut CV gives some expert advice on how to tailor your CV to any job.
During a job search, you’ll apply for various different roles. Some might have different levels of responsibility, expect a specific level of experience or ask for a particular set of qualifications. So, to make sure you’re the perfect fit, it’s essential to tailor your CV to every role you apply for – even if it’s just a small tweak here and there.
The core information and qualifications will stay the same, but some aspects can be reworded or highlighted to give you the best chance of being shortlisted for an interview.
With that said, here’s the fool-proof way to tailor your CV to each and every role you apply for:
The original job advert should tell you pretty much everything you need to know about what the employer or recruiter is looking for.
This might include what your day-to-day duties would be, what kind of essential and desirable skills and experience they expect and what kind of working environment you should expect if you got the job.
Comb through the job description carefully. Highlight keywords and make a note of everything you have that they want, whether that’s relevant experience, skills, similar roles or qualifications.
It’s wise to be clued up on what CV style and approach recruiters in your target industry will generally be looking for, as it can vary significantly.
For example, in young technology and marketing companies, a more casual approach is usually the norm. If your CV has an interesting design and uses more straightforward, human, approachable language, it’s more likely to attract their attention.
However, for a role in the legal or financial sector, you’re likely to need to be far more traditionally professional and stick to the CV ‘rules’.
The top third of your CV is the first thing a reader will look at. To make it even more impactful, include a list of your most relevant and desirable skills, using the research you carried out in the first step of the process.
This will provide a helpful snapshot of what kind of candidate you are and let the recruiter know that you’re suitable, within a few seconds. When you apply for a new role with a different set of desirable skills, you can quickly and easily reorder or edit your list of skills to complement it.
Don’t be afraid to be brutal! Cut irrelevant skills (they don’t matter to the employer) and push the most relevant ones right to the front.
If you’ve taken numerous casual or part-time jobs in the last couple of years, but you’re now keen to get back into a more stable career, it’s essential to focus on relevancy for your work experience section.
Your most relevant roles should take up the most CV space, even if they date a few years back.
Explain what the job involved, what your day-to-day duties were (making sure to highlight the skills, software and techniques used), the difference you made to the employer and any key achievements made within the role.
Don’t remove irrelevant roles completely if it will leave a big, unexplained gap in your employment history. List less relevant roles without detail – just time period, title, and employer will do – so your history is all accounted for, but you’re not taking up too much space.
A tailored, specific CV is a fast-track to getting an interview. It also makes sure you never sell yourself short and demonstrate exactly what kind of candidate you are. Whatever roles you’re applying for, that’s a strong start!
*Andrew Fennell is the founder of CV writing advice website StandOut CV – he is a former recruitment consultant and contributes careers advice to websites like Business Insider, The Guardian and FastCompany. workingmums.co.uk has just published a new free back to work toolkit which gives advice on all aspects of getting back to work.