tailor your cv in 5 steps

How to tailor your CV in 5 steps

Sending a generic CV with every job application can seriously harm your chances of interview success. While it may provide a summary of your core skills and experience, a generic CV won’t immediately show the recruiter why you’re an ideal person for the vacancy.

The solution: tailor your CV.

Before you offer us your best eye roll, tailoring your CV is easier than you think as it doesn’t involve a complete rewrite; just a few tweaks. And the best part is, you can do it in just five quick steps—here’s how.

1. Read every part of the job advert

Before you even consider tailoring your CV, you must first read the entire job advert to make sure you’re a match for the role.  Too often job hunters become excited by a job title without reading the requirements properly and then send a CV that doesn’t highlight relevant experience.

Speed isn’t your best friend here when applying for a job— it’s quality.

When you find a job you like, take a moment or two to really understand what the job requirements are and decide whether they match your skill set. You should also decide whether this is a job that you want in its entirety, rather than wanting it because it’s got an impressive title. If this all fits the bill, you’re ready to move onto step two of tailoring your CV.

2. Pinpoint your matching skills

Once you’ve decided on a job to apply for, go through the requirements in the job description and highlight the requirements you fulfil. Pinpointing your matching skills in this way will help you tailor your CV more accurately and efficiently.

Don’t feel disheartened if you don’t tick every box in the requirements list; everyone’s skill set is different. Instead, it’s important to recognise and understand your shortfalls so you can address them in your CV. So, if you’re missing certain qualifications or knowledge from the requirements list, you need to start thinking about similar experiences or transferable skills to show why you’re still a good fit.

3. Tweak the keywords in your CV

Once you’ve identified the requirements you fulfil, you need to ensure your CV directly references them to show the recruiter you’re a match. You can do this in a number of ways.

Firstly, consider tweaking the personal profile section of your CV. Your personal profile sits at the top of your CV and offers the recruiter a snapshot of your abilities; specifically who you are, what you can offer the company and your career goals. Instead of providing a generic profile, ensure you insert keywords from the job description and reference essential skills.

For example, if the job description states ‘a 2:1 degree or higher is essential’ and you have this qualification, say so!

Secondly, tweak the rest of your CV so that it mimics the phrasing of keywords and skills listed in the advert. Not only does tailoring your CV like this show the recruiter you’re an ideal fit for the role, but your application is more likely to pass Application Tracking Systems (ATSs), too.

4. Cut irrelevant information

The next step to tailoring your CV is cutting down on irrelevant information. This is particularly beneficial if you’re tight on space; remember a CV should never be over two pages.

Recruiters only want to read what’s relevant to their vacancy. Therefore, if your CV is full of knowledge and skills that are not mentioned in the advert, we recommend cutting them from your CV or at least reducing the level of detail. Watch you don’t cut entire roles or core industry skills though; this could do your application more harm than good.

5. Tweak the structure of your CV

If you really want to create a great first impression, you should consider tweaking the structure of your CV. Essential components of any CV include your name and contact details, personal profile, employment history and education.

However, you can mix up the order of these sections to play to your strengths, and even include additional sections such as key skills and achievements, key qualifications and hobbies and interests.

For example, if you’re a recent graduate and your employment history isn’t so strong, place your education section above your employment history. If you’re a seasoned professional, you may include a key qualifications section below your personal profile to show off your major selling points first. Just remember to keep each section relevant to the job you’re applying for and you’re onto a winner.

Tailoring your CV is a quick way to increase your chances of an interview. Follow these five steps and recruiters will instantly see why you’re a great fit for their role. For more CV tips and tricks, see our guides.

About Laura Slingo

Laura Slingo is a writer, editor and digital marketing professional. She has penned hundreds of career and lifestyle articles for various sites and markets across the globe, including Salesforce and The Guardian. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.
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