Tailoring your CV to a specific job application

Monday, May 28th, 2012 - Tailoring your CV


Tailoring your CV

to a specific job application


This is one of those “if I got a penny” job seeker questions at present, but one which is essential to understand: How do you tailor your CV to a specific job application?

Typical of the type of question is this one…

Kerry, a job seeker, asks: I read a lot of job seeking advice at present, and I get the basis of this statement. But most of the advice seems to be about copying text from the advert directly into my CV or Cover Letter. Personally I feel awkward about that, as it seems like plagiarism. Should you use any/all related sentences? I am applying for distribution jobs, sho should I be using sentences like “able to lift 40lbs” or “able to sit/stand/etc for extended periods of time”?

The easy answer: copy & paste

The easy answer is:

  1. Copy the text of the job advert
  2. Insert it into your job application, either in the Professional CV or Cover Letter

I would like to add to this advice: (3) Watch your job application get chucked in the bin!

The background to this piece of advice from the amateur CV Writers is from the guide to the simplest Cover Letter:

  1. Extract the 5/8 competencies (skills, qualifications, experiences)
  2. List those in a grid format in the left hand column…
  3. And in the right hand column, possibly also using a tick symbol, say why you have that SQE

Hence in this modern online world, that becomes “copy & paste”!

But if you have read this blog for a while, you will know that only things that works in successful job application must work in both the online and human world work in job application. So how do you correctly tailor your CV to a specific job application?

Tactical tailoring of your job application

Lets do the instant answer stuff first, in a better way than the amateurs do it, ie: it will get you a Telephone Interview.

I have covered these steps in Why Was I Rejected before, but simply:

  1. Read the job advert, three times
  2. On the fourth time of reading, highlight the 5/8 competencies
  3. Now find the same 5/8 competencies on the top half of the first page of your CV
  4. Can’t find them = the reason that you were rejected!

So, to not get rejected, you need to make sure that you (in the simple form of the Cover Letter), tick all the boxes in the top half of your CV. If you just did that, then you would double to treble your ratio of converting job applications into Telephone Interviews.

Now, you should also take step2. That means that if the employer asks for a specific competency, you don’t just mention it in that magical top half of the first page of your CV, but also expand on it within the rest of your CV.

Most CV’s that we write in draft come out at more than 2pages. Yet surely this breaks the golden 2page rule of CV writing, so what have we done wrong? Nothing! What we do is educate our Professional CV Service clients how to adapt thier CV to each specific job application, ie:

  • Insert and focus on the stuff that you have/the employer wants
  • Remove the stuff that you have/that the employer doesn’t want

This is one of the tactics that means that they get employed on average within 4.3 job applications at present.

Strategic targetting of your job application

OK, that’s the tactical stuff covered, what about the strategic stuff that will get you employed in three job applications at maximum?

In the 5 Steps To Employment, Step2 is Know What You Want, and Who’s Hiring. As part of that module, having created the grid system in Step1, we choose three target jobs and confirm that they are being recruited for by finding 50+ jobs in that sector.

Having confirmed that we are looking at a live hiring sector, and having listed down the 50 jobs that we found, we have also collected some other information: the common competencies for that sector.

Although a successful job application can be made just with the information contained within the job advert, there are three off-agenda issues that a job advert can not address:

  1. Sector/market requirements
  2. Company/organisation requirements
  3. Hiring Manager requirements

Remember, that at the end of the day the job advert is a simplified version of the Job Description. Hence much as though it will refelect the above three requirements, that Job Description is specific to that job, but but not all of of it will appear in the Job Advert. There will be hidden issues within that organisations hiring process which fully reflect the combination of all foru factors.

How do you get at these, and reflect them in your job application? Simple: research! Its the only way that you will get employed in one job application.

Tailoring or Rejection?

Tailoring your CV to each specific job application is essential in this current, and highly competitive, jobs market. Simply if you don’t, then you will forever “Click to Apply”, and will spend a long time job seeking.

Tailoring can be as easy or as complex as you want to make it:

  • Dumb system: copy & paste
  • Tactical system: first half page of CV
  • Stratgeic system: research

But any tailoring will always get you employed quicker, and surely that is the best outcome of tailoring your CV to a specific job application.

Good Luck!

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One Response to “Tailoring your CV to a specific job application”

  1. Kate Carlye Says:

    That is a really cool and useful piece of info. I am glad that you shared this – Thank You!

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