This post is the latest in our short Q&A series on job, CVs and interviews.
Recently I received an email from an MSc graduate searching for jobs in banking and consulting. He asked me: “Do I really need to tailor and amend my CV each time I apply for a different post?” He then complained about how time-consuming and tedious he had found it to amend his CV each time to fit the job description better, most annoyingly of all since this had not resulted in being invited for interviews with his target companies.
So might it be better to have a standardised CV and Cover letter without bothering to tailor for different jobs and firing it out to all companies in a particular sector? My advice is to invest a lot of time and effort in designing a well-thought through resumé in the first place and then amending just a few things to fit the description of each particular job. There’s no need to re-write the whole CV from scratch each time, but equally an entirely scattergun approach may miss the target.
When customising your documents, concentrate on the profile section as this is a primary place to highlight your most relevant accomplishments and experience. Then under your work experience section, you can prioritise the order of the most relevant bullets. Try to include some keywords mentioned in the job description into your profile and experience sections. And this should do the trick with regard to your resume.
The situation with your cover letter is more complex and will of course need to be amended it depending on the requirements of the job in question. However, if the base is written well then the key thing to amend will be the first paragraph where you provide motivation behind applying for this particular post in this particular company. The majority of employers want to get a good and clear sense of who you are so explaining and how you are different from other candidates and why you would fit the bill is key in the main body of the letter. Providing evidence to back up your claims is crucial, and it does not hurt to mention people you have met and interacted with at the target company. And no matter what you do, keep your cover letter to one page. Some bankers even prefer half-page letters, which makes it very hard to express the above – in this case the thing to do is to select just the most relevant skills and characteristics and put all the emphasis on them, with a couple of examples to back up your claims.
If you require any assistance with designing and tailoring your CV and Cover Letter to the banking, consulting, consumer goods, marketing or sales sectors, please email on email@example.com and use the comments box below to share your thoughts, questions and experiences.