Tuesday, July 11, 2006

CVs and resumes: Tailoring for your job hunt

Last week I was coaching a job hunter who was failing to get interviews. The first thing I asked him was: 'Do you tailor your CV to every job you apply for?'

He said no, he only had time to tailor his covering letter.

But I'm afraid it's not good enough. Because the CV you send to one organisation should have little in common with the one you send to the next.

Because the key, key rule of writing a good CV is to ensure that it tells the reader exactly what they want to hear. Recruiters and headhunters may spend as little as a minute glancing at each CV. So your CV must mention all of the key phrases they use in their job advert.

If they ask for 'change leadership skills', then damn well use that precise phrase twice in the top half of the first page of your CV. Don’t think that it is implicit that you have change leadership skills simply because you say that you have 'ten years of management experience'. If another job talks about 'communicating complex information', then use that exact phrase rather than 'good communication skills'.

You might think a recruiter would be able to read between the lines. But CVs are often sifted by inexperienced recruitment minions who can't judge the difference between a good or bad candidate. So they may have been specifically instructed to look for certain key words and phrases – and to bin CVs that do not contain them.

So tailor each and every CV or resume. Your life may not depend on it - but your career does.