Simple Advice on How to Tailor Your CV to a Specific Job Description

Aug 21 17:23 2008 Kev Woodward Print This Article

When writing your CV it is important to make it relevant to your application otherwise it will be one of the first in the bin! Here are some simple tips on how you can make sure yours gets noticed.

Often when people talk about CV writing they discuss the layout of the CV,Guest Posting the content of the CV, and sometimes even the language used in the CV. It can feel as if the production of one, fantastic CV, alongside a robust Covering Letter is all you need to be shortlisted for that dream job.

Unfortunately life is never that straightforward! Employers are looking for specific qualities, attributes and experiences when they advertise a job, and in order to be shortlisted for that role you need to illustrate that you hold the qualities, attributes and experiences that they are looking for. In short, you need to demonstrate that you meet their selection criteria. This can rarely be achieved through the use and distribution of a generic CV, and so you often find that you need a slightly different CV for each position you are applying for, especially if your previous work history is in a different field, or if you are applying for a variety of roles in different sectors.

So, if you are applying for a job in a marketing, PR or design arena, how do you ensure that your CV is tailored sufficiently well to ensure that you stand out from the crowd?

Firstly, you need to decipher the selection criteria. Almost every job that is advertised nowadays will have a selection criteria statement in it somewhere - usually within the person specification. It will look something like this:

“Essential: excellent interpersonal and communication skills, creative thinking, able to make effective presentations to varying levels of senior groups of staff, strong sales background, confident and self-assured.

Desirable: a degree in Marketing, PR experience or experience in a sales and management organisation, knowledge of statutory marketing and advertising law, commitment to attending relevant training, previously managed staff”

The selection criterion above contains the main parts of a standard selection criterion, particularly for jobs in the Marketing, PR and Design arena (which are creativity-driven). These parts are:

Competency: Work related attributes
Qualifier: The level of performance the job requires, e.g. 'Advanced', 'Appreciation', 'Superior', etc
Behaviour: Setting the context of where and how a competency has to be demonstrated
Importance: Essential or Desirable

Now that you know the different elements of the job's selection criteria, you can start addressing each in turn; ensuring that your CV highlights the necessary skills and attributes, at the required level, within the required setting, ranked in the correct order of importance.

Here's how:

1. Create a separate document to your CV, entitled 'Selection Criteria'
2. Use each of the Selection Criteria parts as headings
3. Under each heading, write a series of bullet points that state how you hold and demonstrate each of the words or phrases contained within the selection criteria. Don't forget to provide examples to support your claims
4. Make sure that you use draw on different evidence and examples in support of different criteria; don't keep repeating the same skill set or past experiences
5. Use positive language! Remember to incorporate your “selling words” such as 'instigated', 'accomplished', 'effectively', 'enthusiastically', 'creatively'
6. Avoid negative language including words such as, 'attempted', 'quite', 'abandoned', 'a little'

Finally, you need to merge your Selection Criteria document with your current CV, to ensure that the Competencies, Qualifiers, Behaviour and Levels of Importance that the job dictates are reflected in your CV.

On examining your CV you will probably see that a lot of the examples that you have used to address the selection criteria have already been stated in your CV. But how have they been stated? You will no doubt find that the examples in your CV need to be re-written to reflect the language that you used when describing them in your Selection Criteria document. Similarly, the 'Achievements' and 'personal Profile' sections of your CV will already depict some of the competencies listed in your Selection Criteria document. But they will need to be re-written to ensure all competencies required are listed, at the correct qualifying level, and illustrated in the required context.

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Kev Woodward
Kev Woodward

Words Worth Reading offer individually-tailored, comprehensive CV and application form writing and editing services at fantastic prices, with quick turnaround times. 10% of all submission fees are donated to Oxfam.

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