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Right for the role: 5 ways to tailor your CV to the job description

Firing off the same old CV time after time is a sure fire way to rule yourself out of the running for a job.

Tailoring your CV (and covering letter, if the application process calls for it) is crucial if you’re going to bag that dream role. Not only does it help your CV get through any tricky filters a company might use before it ends up in the hands of a recruiter, it also shows you’ve read the job description and understood thoroughly how the role is perfect for you.

Here are five ways to tailor your CV

1. Use names

A covering letter is a way to impress recruiters and big up your CV before they read it. It’s also a chance to prove you’ve done your research. Find out the name of the HR manager likely to read your application – if it’s not on the job ad, phone up and find out – and address them directly.

2. The introduction

The introduction (that two-sentence statement at the head of your CV) is the easiest way to tailor your CV. Outline who you are (‘A Hull-based shop worker’), why you’re right for the job (‘with experience in handling cash and delegating work’) and why you’re the best candidate (‘looking for a new role with added responsibility’).

3. Use keywords

Start thinking in terms of keywords. If you’re searching for a job online, they’ll be sprinkled throughout the job ad. Pull the most unique, eye-catching words from the advert and work them into your CV. It’s a shortcut to catching a recruiter’s eye.

4. Employment history

Consider rejigging your employment history. Say you’re going for an office job, but you spent the last three years working in a clothes shop. Would you highlight your trouser-hanging skills? Or would you big up the month you spent in an office, picking up applicable skills? Don’t be afraid to make a big deal of a small job if it’s more relevant to the role you’re going for.

5. Personality

Add some personality. Employers are often looking for certain personality traits in their new hires – it’s not all about the job history. Read the job ad to gauge what they’re looking for (eyes open for terms such as ‘strong’, ‘go-getting’, and ‘independent worker’) and demonstrate how you are all those and more in your covering letter.

For more advice on writing your CV visit the National Careers Service (external website).

For CV support in Scotland, visit My World of Work (external website).

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