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Andrew Arkley|November 3, 2016

How to Tailor Your CV to the Job Description

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If you’ve spent any time looking for jobs, you’ll probably have encountered the advice that you should tailor your CV to the job description of each individual role you apply for.

When it comes to CVs, one size does not fit all. Employers want to see how your skills and experience match the specific role they’ve advertised.

Tailoring your CV will show employers you’re a serious candidate, and that you really want to work for them. Most recruiters will be able to spot a generic CV a mile off.

We’ve put together a few tips to help you tailor your CV to the job description:

Read the job description carefully

We can’t stress this enough: read the job description from beginning to end, thoroughly. And then read it again. And maybe a third time.

Make sure you fully understand what the employer is looking for and what the role requires.

Research by TheLadders showed that job seekers spend on average 76.7 seconds reading a job posting before deciding to apply.

Just by reading the job description carefully you’ll immediately give yourself an advantage over a proportion of the competition.

Pick out keywords and phrases

Highlight keywords and specific skills listed in the job description, and include them in your CV.

Lots of employers now use ATS software to scan applications before they’re seen by human eyes.

ATS software scans CVs for specific keywords or phrases related to the role. If your CV doesn’t include these words and phrases, it probably won’t make it past this stage.

If your CV does make it through to be seen by a hiring manager, they’ll be looking out for the same key phrases.

If the job description asks for ‘good communication skills and strong attention to detail’, make sure you get those words in there somewhere.

Make your experience fit

Experience that doesn’t seem immediately relevant may still have involved skills listed in the job description.

Lots of roles require soft skills like the ability to work in a team, interpersonal skills and organisational skills.

New data from job search engine Adzuna.co.uk revealed that ‘Communication’ is the most sought after soft skill in potential employees. In their survey of one million adverts, 10.9% of ads mention ‘Communication’ within the job description, highlighting the value of showing off soft skills gained through previous experience on your CV.

Therefore, your previous sales role may not be directly relevant to the project management position you’re applying for, but you can still draw attention to skills required by both roles.

Demonstrate the skills you want to highlight with specific examples if you can.

Put your most relevant experience first

You might not meet every single requirement listed in the job description, and that doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be invited to interview.

Tailoring your CV is about making the skills and experience you have appear to the best advantage - so make the most relevant parts of your CV the most visible.

Rejig the order of your CV so that your most relevant experience comes first. This might be a previous role, qualifications or training or some freelance work you did on the side.

You want to make an impact right from the get-go, so lead with the thing that’s most likely to catch the hiring manager’s eye.

Research the company

Don’t just read the job description - research the company itself as well.

See if you can find out anything about the company’s values and culture, and include any information which shows you fit in.

This might include volunteering or charity work, a blog you write or sports you’re involved in.

Tailor your CV to the job description for the best chance of success

Tailoring your CV is about highlighting the parts of your CV that best fit the job description.

It’s about drawing attention to details and examples that match up with the requirements of the role and the company’s values.

This might sound like a lot of work, but once you’ve got in the habit of tailoring your CV it will become an easily manageable step in the job application process.

You don’t need to start from scratch every time. A few well-placed tweaks to your standard CV should be all you need.

Our unique, affordable CV writing service produces tailor-made CVs that show you at your best. Find out how we can help you today.

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