How to tailor a CV for a specific job

Here’s everything you need to know about tailor your CV for a specific job.

How to tailor a CV for a specific job

When you are in the job market and you are not getting the positive responses you expected, 9/10 times it comes down to your CV. Tailoring your CV according to the job specification is a great way to stand out from the crowd.

Your CV or resume is how you sell your skills and experience to a potential employer. Many candidates tend to omit vital information that talent acquisition specialists might need in order for them to be the chosen one. 


Make sure you understand the role you’re applying for

Sometimes job applicants simply skim the job description. They latch onto some keywords while not fully grasping the role advertised. This is especially true in cases where people are desperate for employment.


Ask yourself: am I a fit for this role?

Sometimes your work experience might not fit the job listing, but your educational training might have prepared you for it, or vice versa. In this case, don’t immediately give up. It might be wise to point that out in your cover letter and who knows? Perhaps your personality will help you get the job.




1. Use industry jargon or the language that was used in the job spec

In order to show your potential employer that you are who they need, make sure that you speak the same language. Using industry jargon is the easiest way to demonstrate that you know what you are talking about and that you are adequately experienced. 

Pro tip: you can highlight some important keywords used in the job description. Find a way to incorporate the language used in the job description. With job applications going digital, many recruitment companies and departments use ATS (Applicant Tracking System), AI (Artificial Intelligence) software used to scan CVs. This software ranks the applications according to the skills and experience desired for the role. This software uses keywords to filter applications and if your CV is not a match, your CV might not even hit the inbox of the recruiter.


2. Place all relevant experience at the top

While some may argue that it is important to keep your experience in chronological order, it is also important to illustrate that you are the best fit for the job. Take full advantage of all your relevant experience and outline it from the very beginning. 

If you would much rather keep your CV in chronological order, you can try rearranging your skills for each of your previous roles from the most relevant to the least. That way, the recruiter will see the skills that qualifies you for the job the most.

3. List your achievements in a role

Go above and beyond the skills you have acquired. Prove that you are a valuable asset by outlining your professional accomplishments within a role. This shows the recruiter that you have managed to be successful within the organization that you have found yourself in. 

Your achievements can include anything from promotions, to teams, campaigns or projects you may have initiated or executed, to training or workshops you may have led.


4. List all software or programs you’ve used in the past 

Colour your CV with details about how you not only work hard, but how you work smart too. List the software or programs that you may have used to simplify the job. Include your levels of efficiency in order for the recruiter to gauge how proficient you are with the various tools necessary to be successful in this role.


5. Keep it simple

Before technologies like ATS software, applicants prioritized the aesthetics of CVs. Today, that is less important.


“A study from Harvard Business Review found that 88% of employers felt that qualified, high-skilled candidates were vetted out of the process by an ATS because they “did not match the exact criteria established by the job description,”and that number rose to 94% for middle-skilled candidates.”

Keep your format and fonts as simple as possible and save graphs, charts and other illustrations for addendums or other documents when applying for a job. ATS software reads from top to bottom and left to right, which means that if you have any columns separating information, the software might read it as one block of information.

These formats might confuse the ATS and kick out your CV, immediately disqualifying you for the role.

Use these tips to help your CV stand out when applying for a specific job. Remember that recruiters and talent acquisition teams work with CVs and resumes all day. They will be able to sniff a generic CV from a mile away, which won’t give them the best impression of you.

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