Do you really need to tailor your CV for every application?
Your CV is a representation of you – your work experience, your skills and your education.
It’s slightly confusing that people advise being honest and accurate on a CV, but also advocate changing it for every different job you apply for.
Here at Morgan Jones we believe a better phrase would be ‘tweaking your CV’. Using the advice below we think you can give yourself the best chance of success without spending hours editing and re-writing your CV every time.
Why you need to ‘tweak’ your CV
There are two reasons you need to make adjustments to your CV each time: computers and humans.
Scanned by a computer
With the rise in CV scanning technology and online keyword searches, the first filter for your CV will almost always be a computer program. You may be perfect for the job, but if you don’t have the right words on your CV, it simply won’t be seen by the right person.
Whatever your opinion on computers scanning and filtering, it is how the world of hiring works, especially when some employers get 500+ applications for every role.
Understanding this allows you to get the right words in the right places and make sure you get to the next step.
Read by a person
If there was one universally perfect format for a CV then everyone would use it, right?
We see thousands of CV’s every week. Colours, pictures, fonts, even the occasional joke. You would be amazed at what you see. And the most interesting thing is that everyone at Morgan Jones likes different styles.
So, we should remember that different people will like different combinations of words and different layouts. You can’t always predict this, but you can ensure that you understand the company you are applying to and the most likely style that will you see you be successful.
Is the company a long-established law firm with a formal structure? Or it is a creative design agency with modern offices and flexible hours? Your CV may need ‘tweaking’ to suit the company you are applying to.
Sometimes your template will be enough
The tips below will help you to match your CV to each and every job. But there is some good news.
You don’t need to tailor your CV if you want to send it to us. Email us on email@example.com and tell us a little bit about what you are looking for. If we have something suitable, we’ll get in touch.
If you are applying directly for a job, here’s our advice.
Setting up a great template
If you have a brilliant template in place then it will save you a lot of time. Your template can even be a little bit longer – it is easier to have all the information included and then selectively remove parts of it.
Visit our CV advice section to get started. We even have some templates you can download – www.morganjones.net/career-advice
Identify your key words
Firstly, you should know the key words that fit your industry. Sometimes they are software programs (Excel, SAGE, Salesforce), sometimes they are qualifications (masters, ACCA, REC), sometimes they are experiences (accountancy, business development, manager) and sometimes they are skills (lead generation, project management, order fulfilment).
Identify the ones that will work across your industry. As we mentioned, it’s easier to have too many and then edit them down.
To start, you can include plenty of keywords in your opening statement.
In addition, you can also change the tone of your personal statement.
Let’s use an example. You’re applying for a position that mentions there are opportunities for training, development and internal promotion. In your personal statement, you can mention that you are keen to learn new skills and progress your career through hard work.
If you have carefully read the job description you will get a feel for what they are looking for. Use that to your advantage.
Moving things around
Are you applying for a role that requires a degree in a science based subject at 2:1 grade or better? Or are you applying for a warehouse role that requires a specific machine license?
Put that in your personal statement or as early as you possibly can.
The image to the left shows you the ‘hotspots’ on a CV – the darker the colour, the more time recruiters spend looking at that part of the page. As you can see, the two different layouts draw the eye to different places but there are some places that will always be scanned.
Make sure the most important information is visible in those places.
Thinking inside the box
We don’t believe that CV’s should be overly formatted, but if there are some essential skills for a job then you could consider having a small box for information. Let’s say you need:
- GCSE’s at C grade or above in English and Maths
- Excel skills
- At least one year working in an administrative, secretarial or office support role
- Ability to set diary appointments and arrange schedules for others
If these are non-negotiable requirements, you could create an ‘Overview’ box near the to to of your CV that highlights these skills/experiences. It could sit next to, or just below, your personal statement.
You don’t have to do this, but when the requirements are clear, you need to make sure people can see you meet the criteria. If you can find a neat way of making them stand out, we think that can improve your chances of success.
Applying to a company that manufactures hiking equipment?
They are probably going to like an outdoorsy person who shares their passion. You don’t want to lie, but you could emphasise the DoE hiking you did at school or mention that you run outdoors.
You can’t always do this, but it can be a nice finishing touch for your CV. It may just be the final piece that takes you from a ‘maybe’ to an ‘invite to interview’.
The final word
What this boils down to is that you need to take a moment to understand the role and the company that you are applying to.
As a recruitment agency we sit in the middle and the truth is that we will help you ‘tweak’ your CV if we think you are right for a certain position. We take the time to understand what our clients are looking for, so if we believe you have what it takes, we’ll suggest some changes.
Don’t take it personally – if we are trying to help then it means we believe you are a great fit for the job.
If you are applying directly (or online via a job board) then we hope these tips will help you in your job search.