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How To Tailor Your CV To Job Descriptions

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It would be great if every CV you sent out was snapped up straight away, but in reality, the most desirable roles receive hundreds of applications.

This means your CV needs to make an instant impression and directly appeal to the employer to have any chance of landing you an interview.

Follow these steps to match your skills to an employer’s needs by fitting the job description and give your CV the best chance of ticking the right boxes:

1. What are your skills?

Have a brainstorm and fill a sheet of A4 with your skills. This exercise might take a while and require some deep-thinking, but it’s worth it.

It will also give you a bit of a confidence boost to see how many skills you actually have.

2. Categorise your skills

The next step is to create groups for your skills.

Try categories like ‘Communication’, ‘Tech Skills’, ‘Teamwork/Leadership’, ‘Organisation’ and ‘Professionalism’ as most employers will want you to be skilled in these areas.

Now it’s time to group your skills using the new categories.

Skills and abilities like ‘Adobe Creative Suite’, ‘Microsoft & Mac OS’ and ‘Social Media Scheduling’ would fall under ‘Tech Skills’, while ‘Cultural Awareness’ and ‘Understanding Tone of Voice’ would fit into the ‘Communication’ category. Try colour coding for a visual approach:

3. Study the job description

Every employer is different and their company will have unique ways of working, but job descriptions give us an insight into the attributes they’re looking for from their ideal candidate.

Annotate the job description using your new colour-coded skillsets. Here’s an example.

This exercise may prompt you to switch up your groups and add to your skill list, as you’ll have gained more insight into what the company is looking for from the ideal candidate. Avoid the temptation to invent any skills for yourself just to meet the description though.

4. Present your skills in order of importance (to the employer)

Which skillsets came up most frequently when you studied the job description?

The most prominent theme in the example job description was ‘Organisation’ with 8 references – so chances are, that skillset is what the employer values most. Here’s our countdown of references to each skillset in the example job description:

1. Organisation (8)

2. Communication (7)

3. Tech Skills (6), Professionalism (6), Teamwork & Leadership (6)

5. Provide evidence of each skillset

Finally, it’s time to elaborate on each skillset by providing evidence in your application with examples from your education and career history. Use active verbs to make your examples more impactful:

Organisation

  • Scheduling social media updates across multiple accounts
  • Managing and executing/escalating/delegating all internal requests for marketing support
  • Coordinating the release and promotion of new website content

If you repeat this step for the most prominently referenced skillsets in the job description, the result will be a CV or application that fits the job description and shows that you really understand what would be expected of you in the role.

Ready to put these tips into action and find your next role?

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