How to create a tailored CV

How to create a tailored CV
How to create a tailored CV

posted 16 Nov 23

Making a good first impression counts, and that often starts with your CV. With an average of 250 CVs sent in for every job posting, your application must be tailored to the role your applying for to cut through the noise.

Many applicants are likely to simply click ‘apply’ and send over their current CV without changing it first to match the position. Tailoring your CV for the role and company you’re applying for will emphasise your most relevant experience and skills and impress the potential employer. You’ll show that you’re a good fit for the position, enthusiastic about the role, and willing to go the extra mile.

You are likely to have a CV that is your foundation, whether that’s a chronological CVfunctional or skills-based CV, or combination CV. To tailor your CV, you don’t have to rewrite the whole thing. However, you will need to refer to the job description and company website to add or update specific areas. Read on to discover what areas of your CV to focus on to create a unique version for each application: 

Personal statement

Firstly, you’ll want to update your introduction to create a bespoke and concise personal statement. Include an overview of your skills, qualifications, and achievements, so pay close attention to the job title and specification. 

Your personal statement needs to sell yourself and grab their attention. Remember, potential employers and recruiters will look at it from the perspective of ‘what value can they add to the company’. Answering this in your opening section will spike their interest and encourage them to read on. 

Top tip: Go beyond your experience and research what the business stands for and how it operates to help express to them that you’re a great cultural fit.

Work experience

Remember that recruiters and employers are often time-poor. The more concise and relevant your CV is, the less time they will have to spend to understand your experience and skills. As a general rule, your CV should cover your last five to six employment positions. If you change jobs regularly, and the jobs before these six are irrelevant to the role you’re currently applying for, you should consider removing them. 

Cutting down some of the copy will keep your CV highly relevant to the prospective employer and help them focus on the experiences that matter the most. Don’t forget that if an employer wants to see more work experience, they can always ask you to provide or view your LinkedIn.

Key skills

If you have a key skills section with your CV, you could re-order this based on the skills you feel are the highest priority for the role. If you are transitioning to a new industry or role, emphasise any transferable skills you have that are applicable.

You should keep it to around 10-15 skills and only include skills relevant to the job, as too many skills can make your CV appear unfocused. To identify skills regarded by the prospective employer, highlight the skills mentioned in the job description and cross-reference them with your skills. 

Top tip: Before or during your job search, we recommend you complete a personal skills audit to understand your expertise. It will also help you identify gaps in your skillset for personal development and will be beneficial when choosing what jobs to apply for. 

Training and achievements

To customise this section effectively, carefully read the job description and requirements and identify both the skills and qualifications the employer wants. Include and highlight training and certifications that align with the job requirements, including technical skills and industry certifications. 

Identify achievements from your past experiences (work and voluntary) that demonstrate your ability to excel in areas relevant to the job. Quantify achievements whenever possible with numbers and percentages to provide measurable results and add credibility to your claims. If your experience is not directly linked to the role, think about projects that may showcase the relevant skills.

ATS-friendly keywords

ATS (Applicant Tracking System) is a software employers use to scan CVs effectively and select candidates with the essential skills and experience. The majority of employers use an ATS, however, different positions will have unique keywords crucial for their ATS - you’ll need to consider the specific role you’re applying for to pass the initial screening stage.

You can incorporate ATS-friendly keywords in any of the above areas, and you will have already covered some within your skills, experience, and training. Although you cannot be certain which keywords are required, you can pre-empt them using the job description. Consider other ways you can mirror the language within the job description and posting, such as:

  • Action verbs like ‘led’, ‘managed’, and ‘oversaw’
  • Industry-specific terminology related to the job
  • Target numbers and figures

Keep in mind that balance is essential, so avoid keyword stuffing and ensure your CV remains readable and compelling to both ATS and human readers.

Colour scheme

Alongside tailoring the copy, you should consider the design of your CV. The design matters more than you might expect, and colour can help make you stand out. Modern-day employers are used to seeing CVs that include colour, so don’t be afraid to inject some into yours. 

When deciding on your colour scheme, consider whether it suits the role and industry you’re applying for. While there is no definitive answer to what colours you should use on your CV, choose colours that reflect your industry and complement one another. For example, professional services may stick to dark or muted colours, whereas creative professionals will use a more colourful palette to show their personality. Remember, it’s always best to keep your main background colour white and the font black for readability. 

Have you found this article insightful? At Search, we work with 6,000+ businesses across the UK and have uncovered what makes a great CV in today’s job market. If you are looking for more support with your CV or job search, contact us today, our dedicated recruitment consultants can review your current strategy and make recommendations.