How to Tailor Your Curriculum Vitae to Specific Job Postings

By Relebohile Sera


You decrease your chances of job-search success when you create a one-size-fits-all Curriculum Vitae. You have probably heard this a billion times before. It’s very important to tailor your CV to specific job postings.

Even though many of the roles you are applying for will be similar, no two jobs are ever the same. Not only will your CV change for each position, but it should also evolve in response to all the jobs you apply for.

Study all job postings as it will allow you to learn what employers really need from you. This will help you write content that best reflects that you can do that job. Tailoring your CV is about understanding which of your qualities are most important to a particular vacancy, and adjusting your CV to make them outstanding to that specific employer.

You however don’t need to update the entire document, a few tweaks and tucks will do. Below are tips and recommendations on how to tailor your CV to specific job posting:

Read the Entire job Advert

Skimming through the requirements is a no-no! Read the entire advert. Take a few minutes to understand the job requirements and compare them with your CV. For your CV to be a good match for the job, you ought to know the employer’s wants and requirements for the job position. Start by highlighting any skills and required work experience.

However, note that you won’t always tick everything off and it’s very important to understand your shortfalls so you can combat them. If you are missing certain experience or skills from the requirements, be creative and think about similar transferable skills that you can highlight to make you a good fit for the position.

Match Your CV Content With the job Description

You want to tailor your resume to the job description. Start by matching the most important things on the job description with the most visible areas on your CV. Ensure the first few bullet points under each previous job on your CV are relevant.

If it is your first job, you can tailor your education and other related experiences instead. Then you can list your individual accomplishments. If you have a professional summary section in your CV, pay attention to that too. Look at how the company describes the overall role and match your summary with that description.

Tailoring for Each Company

Nip your CV to suit the company’s mission and goals. Make sure to research the organisation itself to find out about its reputation and how it presents its culture. Are they a ‘work hard and play hard’ company?

Include any information about yourself that shows you will fit in with them. This may fit within your ‘Interests’ section if you choose to include one: charity work or sports, for instance.

Provide Compelling Evidence

Draw attention to the skills you find most important by adding numbers and details. By being specific, you can demonstrate how you’ve used these skills in the past. Provide specifics: Facts, figures, examples, stories! Give out compelling evidence that shows the employer that you can come in and be effective in the job.

Instead of “Customer Service”, go for accomplishment statements that quantify like, “decreased returns by 10% through effective customer service”. Using facts and figures has two benefits: Numbers pop out on the page and are easy to find and details make it easier for the employer to imagine you achieving similar results in the future.

Cut Down on Irrelevant Information

The information you omit from your CV can be just as important as the information you include. If you have large sections of your CV filled with skills and experience not mentioned in the job requirement, it’s a good idea to cut down on those sections. Don’t remove them completely. Reduce the level of detail to leave out space to list skills that are required in the job advert.

Review Everything

Once you’re comfortable that you’ve covered everything possible on your CV in terms of what the job description asks for, do what the employer would do. Lay your CV side-by-side with the job description and glance through it.

Does everything fit and make sense? Will the company be able to clearly see why you chose to apply for this position and why you’re interested? Ideally, you haven’t introduced a single error with these tweaks. Still, before sending off your document, do a final proofread for grammatical mistakes or typos.

Always keep in mind that the goal of the CV isn’t to get you a job. It’s to get you an interview. Make it succinct, interesting and desirable.

Relebohile Sera is a Professional Certified Career Coach. My mission in life is to help people be successful in their careers and to provide coaching for those seeking a new career direction.