Stand out from the crowd by creating multiple versions of your CV.
In a competitive job market, your CV must give you an edge. It’s a great idea to start your job search by creating a CV that provides a complete and detailed history of your overall career.
However, when you’re ready to approach a specific employer, create a tailored version that will speak directly to your employer of choice. You may ask: is this necessary? Isn’t it better to list everything you’ve done, and let them decide what’s relevant?
To answer this, let’s consider it from the viewpoint of your target audience.
Employers and recruiters:
- See hundreds of CVs each week and don’t have time to spend hunting through details irrelevant to the position they need to fill.
- Can spot a generic CV from a hundred paces. It shows you’re using a ‘scatter-gun’ approach to your job search, and it speaks volumes about your level of interest in joining their organisation.
The right person for the right role.
Although you may be applying to different employers, each employer has different priorities for positions with the same title. What impresses one may leave another disinterested.
Imagine that you’re looking for a position as a product designer. The primary purpose of the role is to design consumer products. Now, consider how different it would be to work for a global giant like Apple instead of a small company producing up-market kitchens.
Employers aren’t only looking for someone with the right skills and experience. They’re looking for someone who’ll fit into their team, share their values, and be passionate about contributing to the company's success. Your CV has to let them know – that’s you.
Understand the company’s priorities.
The key to tailoring your CV effectively is to understand what the employer is looking for.
- Review the job posting carefully. What are their priorities?
- Pick out the keywords in the ad. Which are the ones that ‘speak’ to you?
- What attributes are required? Are they looking for an ambitious disrupter or someone to bring steadiness to a new team?
- If the ad mentions that a specific skill or experience is essential, believe it. If it states that they need a French speaker, and you don’t speak French, the chances are that their AMS (Applicant Management System) will filter you out before a human sets eyes on your CV.
- Check their website as this will give valuable insight into their values and brand.
Create your bespoke CV.
Having defined what a successful candidate looks like in this employer's eyes, and decided you match the profile, it’s time to edit your CV. These suggestions should help you.
- When you include a cover letter, mention the company by name. Explain why you’re applying. State what will make you successful in the role, and what you’ll gain from it in terms of your overall career.
- Leave every position on your CV, but if they aren’t directly relevant to this application, cut down the details.
- Show your results. Under each relevant position, especially the most recent, explain your achievements in detail. Provide exact figures wherever possible: “Exceeded annual sales targets by 27%”, “Voted Employee of the Month four times.”
- Based on the job advertisement, highlight your strengths that match their requirements. When have you led a team to success? What challenges have you overcome? How did you navigate significant upheaval?
- Never make the mistake of pasting a job description onto your CV. It only tells the recruiter what you were supposed to do, not what you did.