It's important to tailor your CV when applying for a job, as there's so much competition in the job market. It’s likely you're not even going to get past the initial hurdle if you don’t have a CV that is perfectly adapted for the job. Aside from recruiters making a call on your suitability, a whopping 70% of CVs are rejected by the software that recruiters and employers use (often called ATS or applicant tracking systems).
Before you even think about applying for a job, you need to really understand what the employer is looking for and make sure your CV appeals to both humans and the machines.
The team at The CV & Interview Advisors share some tips below.
Master and modular CVs
Whatever your circumstances, you will need to have both a master and adaptable / modular CV. Your main CV (master) includes all the details and experiences in your career. The modular CV is the one that you change and adapt! As we mentioned earlier, 70% of CVs don't even get read by a human – there are various reasons why this happens, but it predominantly has to do with keywords and the algorithms within the applicant tracking systems. You may have applied for several jobs and had no response, but the reality is there's a very good chance it didn't even get in front of a person, as it might have been blocked at the initial stages by the algorithm / bots within the recruitment systems.
Read the job description!
Job descriptions will usually contain some of the more behavioural skills and you may notice that they include statements like “we want somebody hard working” or “we want somebody who is determined” – even for senior roles these skills often appear in job descriptions. When it comes to tailoring your CV, you should ignore these requirements as they will determine if you have those qualities at an interview. It's good to read them and understand what kind of person they need, but you don't need to focus on them in your CV. You should focus more on job-based skills, and your CV should demonstrate that you have these job-based skills in abundance.
Putting together the raw material
A career autobiography is essentially a record of your jobs, experience, and projects that you've worked on. Setting up an excel spreadsheet to list your achievements, projects and experiences is an easy way to collect the information. This catch all document can then be used when looking for the raw material to use in your CV for each role.
Structuring your CV
The chronological CV is a standard format that most employers and recruiters will be looking for (for contractors there's a case study style CV, which is more project based that gives a synopsis of each of the projects you've worked on).
A chronological CV should start with a profile. It’s great to have multiple profiles, so you can change them to suit the roles that you're applying for.
You should include a key skills section that focuses on keywords related to your industry and also matches the job description.
Career highlights are mini case studies, which are projects you've worked on or achievements that you are really proud of. Having your case studies on page one of your CV is a great way to demonstrate what you've done and how you've done it!
Then of course you have your professional experience, which always starts with your current or most recent job. This should start on page one, because the very first thing the recruiter wants to see, is where you worked most recently and in what capacity.
Tailoring for ATS
You need to focus on the key requirements of the job in your tailored CV, as that is a good way to get you past the applicant tracking systems. You should always go through and highlight the six key requirements of the role and mirror the terminology in your CV. If they've mentioned a key phrase in their job description, you should mention that phrase so that it matches and positively triggers the algorithm within the applicant tracking systems.
Once you have your tailored CV, you will need to make sure your LinkedIn profile is aligned with it. It’s important that both your CV and LinkedIn profile have information that is congruent with one another.
Depending on your situation, you may need an executive biography. Generally, senior candidates will need an executive biography, which gives a one-page snapshot of your career and is great when networking with time-poor decision makers at the top of the food chain.
Overall, there are many steps that you’ll need to take when tailoring your CV for different roles. Making sure your CV is optimised for ATS, reading the job descriptions, and making sure you have demonstrated the correct type of skills in your CV is crucial.
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