Tailored CVs: The dilemma of different versions

It is widely known that you should tailor your CV to the job you are applying for – which means basically revising it every time you send it out. The extent to which you can manipulate the information in your CV will depend very much on how widely your job choices differ. If you are applying for similar positions within the same industry, it is likely that not much tailoring will be required at all. But if you are considering perhaps two different careers, that can mean having two completely different versions of your CV.

There are many reasons why you may consider two different careers: It could be to optimise your opportunities for employment or because you are undecided about what you want to do. In most cases it is simply because your first choice of career is not immediately available to you, either because of the current economic climate or because of the natural fluctuations that can occur in any particular industry. So what do you change in each respective version?

In truth, the majority of the information in your CV is based on facts: names, dates, places, qualifications, job descriptions – these are all things which you cannot change. But you can think about how they appear in the CV. The way you present the information in your CV can make a big difference to how it is interpreted by the reader. The order and sequence of the information is important, as well as the amount of space you allocate to any particular element of the CV. For example, if you are a recent graduate, your degree may be the most relevant information. Therefore, it makes sense to ensure that it is listed before any work experience. On the other hand, if you have already acquired some work experience in your particular field, it would make sense to give that priority, especially if your education was a while ago.

When listing your skills, it is likely that similar skills will be required for any position within the same industry. However, these might change completely if you are targeting a different industry altogether. The skills present much more of an opportunity for you to manipulate the information. This is your sales pitch and – unlike most of the rest of the CV – it CAN be tailored to the role you are seeking. Tailor your skills summary to include the skills most relevant to the position, or the skills required by the potential employer. Read the brief, the person specification (NOT the job description!) or the advertisement for the vacancy you are applying for, and of course ensure that you address all the employers’ criteria.

What else can you change? The profile should be altered accordingly. That is the introductory paragraph at the beginning of the CV which states your career objective and should set the focus for the CV. Make sure this clearly states your career aims.

Stick to these general rules and you will have created a carefully crafted document, tailored precisely to the industry you are targeting, which should help to get you to that all important interview.

Peter Panayotou is the Founder and Senior Consultant at The Write Stuff
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