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Tailoring your CV

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So your CV is written, and you've got feedback from the professionals in the careers service, so now all you need to do is send it to potential employers, right? Not quite: at this stage you've written a 'generic' CV - it's not tailored to a specific job. Although you can use the same CV to apply for many different jobs, this is not a great way of maximising your chances of getting the job you want. For just a little more effort, you can tip the odds in your favour by tailoring each CV to match a job description.

You can tailor your CV by simply highlighting the qualifications, skills and experience that are most relevant to each job description. By pointing out the ways in which you fulfil the job specification, you're making it easier for future employers to see instantly why you might be the right person for their job. Potential employers won't scrutinise your CV to find the parts they're interested in; you need to make it obvious to them.

Activity: tailoring your CV - 25 minutes

For this activity you'll need a specification for a job you're interested in applying for.

1. Get hold of a copy of a job specification for a post you're interested in applying for. These can often be found online, or you may need to write off for them.

2. Review the list of essential criteria in the specification.

3. Skim through your CV and see which, if any, of the essential criteria are obvious on a quick read through - these will be easily noted by potential employers.

4. If any of the essential criteria are missing or not obvious, you'll need to re-write your CV so they are highlighted.

5. Read through your CV again, and keep re-working it until the emphasis is firmly on the essential criteria for the post. It may take several attempts to get the emphasis right, but it's worth persevering because this is what employers will be looking for.

Recommended Further Reading

If you're unsure whether you've got the emphasis right, ask someone to review a copy of your CV against the essential criteria, and see if they are able to tick off the criteria as they read. Repeat this activity for every job you apply for - it may seem like hard work, but employers only give each CV a few seconds attention, so you need to clearly highlight your suitability for their job.

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