Job Hunting

tailor your CV

How To Tailor Your CV: Customize For Each New Role

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Applying for jobs is a tiresome and time-consuming exercise that is not only emotionally draining but financially constraining. Job seekers often try to shortcut the process by firing off the same CV to scores of job advertisements  –  no matter what the role. This approach may increase the count of jobs to which you’ve applied but significantly decreases the quality of each application. Try instead, to tailor your CV to each new role. 

There are not two roles that are similar whatsoever, hence the need customize or tailor your CV to meet the specific needs and requirements of each role. One customized, targeted and strong application is far better than ten similar and poor applications.

So, given the nature and diversity of roles, how do you solve the puzzle with a single similar tool (CV)?

This underscores the paramount nature of customizing your CV to a specific role each time you press that send button.

Deciding to tailor your CV doesn’t mean writing a new one from scratch for every application. Rather, it’s understanding your strongest qualities and skills important to the job to which you’re applying, then making them stand out to the recruiter.

The elephant in the room now is: How do you tailor your CV?

Read the entire job advert to understand what the recruiter or hiring manager is looking for. It is not enough to be excited about the job title, skimming through the JD, and firing off your CV to the recruiter. Ensure your prominent qualities match the job requirements.

Before pressing the ‘red send’ button, ask yourself…

Can I immediately see the key requirements for the job on my CV?

If not, add some skills you’ve left out or move some information around to emphasize what really matters.

What is my CV missing?

Even though you will rarely tick every box of the job requirements, understanding your shortfall is important to help you combat them competently. Creativity is necessary when you miss on a crucial job requirement. This can be complemented by substituting with a similar experience and highlighting transferable skills to improve your brand.

Tailor your CV profile/summary

This is the first thing recruiters see and make a judgement on. A shocking fact is, if a recruiter doesn’t locate the most crucial skill requirement for the job in your profile, some recruiters pass on to the next CV without another look. So, the skills most important to the role for which you are applying should prominently be featured in your profile.

Bonus Tips:

Throughout your CV, as much as possible, mirror and use the adjectives and keywords used in the job advertisement.

As much as possible, avoid generic terms like a team player, working under pressure, meeting deadlines e.t.c — instead, use active verbs to demonstrate these qualities. e.g. I mobilized a team of 12 colleagues and worked on a new work planning software within two weeks (More CV writing advice)

Besides predominantly bringing out your qualities and skills-set necessary to the job, ensure to highlight your key accomplishments relevant to the application.

In conclusion, “Always view the final CV you’re sending out from the recruiter’s/hiring manager’s perspective”

I would love to hear from you! Share more tips you may have on how to tailor your CV for a specific role in the comments. Also, shoot any questions you may have. In the meantime, here’s a few more tips on customizing your resume, which you might find useful. 

tailor your CV

Tailor making your CV for each role

1200 900 Brenda Akinyi

Finding a new role and applying for jobs is a tiresome and time-consuming exercise that is not only emotionally draining but also constraining financially. Factoring these not so encouraging realities, job seekers often take the shorter route of using the scattergun approach and firing off a similar CV to scores of job advertisements — a big mistake! This approach may increase the count of jobs applied but significantly decreases the quality of each application.

There are not two roles that are similar whatsoever, hence the need to customize your CV to meet the specific needs and requirements of each role. One customized, targeted and strong application is far better than ten similar and poor applications.

So, given the nature and diversity of roles, how do you solve the puzzle with a single similar tool (CV)?

This underscores the paramount nature of customizing your CV to a specific role each time you press that send button.

Customizing your CV doesn’t mean writing a new one from scratch for every application. Rather, it’s understanding your strongest qualities and skills important to the you’re applying for, then making them stand out to the recruiter.

The elephant in the room now is: How do I customize my CV?

Read the entire job advert to understand what the recruiter or hiring manager is looking for. It is not enough to be excited about the job title, skimming through the JD, and firing off your CV to the recruiter. Ensure your prominent qualities matches the job requirements.

Before pressing the ‘red send’ button, ask yourself…

Can I immediately see the key requirements for the job on my CV?

If not, add some skills you’ve left out or move some information around to emphasize what really matters.

What is my CV missing?

Even though you will rarely tick every box of the job requirements, understanding your shortfall is important to help you combat them competently. Creativity is necessary when you miss on a crucial job requirement. This can be complemented by substituting with a similar experience and highlighting transferable skills to improve your brand.

Tweak your CV profile/summary

This is the first thing recruiters see and make a judgement on. A shocking fact is, if a recruiter doesn’t locate the most crucial skill requirement for the job in your profile, some recruiters pass on to the next CV without another look. So, the skills most important to the role for which you are applying should prominently be featured in your profile.

Bonus Tips:

Throughout your CV, as much as possible, mirror and use the adjectives and keywords as used in the job advertisement.

As much as possible, avoid generic terms like a team player, working under pressure, meeting deadlines e.t.c — instead, use active verbs to demonstrate these qualities. e.g. I mobilized a team of 12 colleagues and worked on a new work planning software within two weeks

Besides predominantly bringing out your qualities and skills-set necessary to the job, ensure to highlight your key accomplishments relevant to the application.

In conclusion, “Always view the final CV you’re sending out from the recruiter’s/hiring manager’s perspective”

I would love to hear from you! Share more tips you may have on customizing a CV for a specific role in the comments. Also, shoot any questions you may have.

Advice on How to Improve a Resume

150 150 Brenda Akinyi
how to improve a resume

At Shortlist, we help candidates demonstrate their skills to show that they’re a great fit for a job. Most employers are looking for a mix of ability, which you can show on our assessments, and experience, which is where the CV comes in. Candidates often come to us asking for guidance on how to improve a resume so we wrote this blog post to have all of our top tips in one place!

We’ve broken down the CV into its key parts, sharing both the essential must-haves for how to improve a resume and the extra bells and whistles!

1. Contact Information

The basics: This should appear at the top of your resume and include your name, address, phone number and e-mail address. Triple-check that your information is correct and up to date. If you are applying for a job outside the city you live in and are willing to relocate, indicate the same.

Extra insight: Avoid giving irrelevant information, like your date of birth and marital status, unless requested on the job profile.

2. Personal Statement

The basics: This is your opportunity to showcase your experience, achievements, as well as your career aspirations to your potential employer. The statement should answer three important questions:

  • Who are you?
  • What can you do for the organization?
  • What are you seeking in your next job?

If you’re wondering how to improve a resume, resist the urge to use a generalized statement to suit any application, instead make this specific to the role you are applying for. While it may take time to customize this statement for each role, it makes all the difference… Consider the key requirements for the role and use these to phrase your statement to show that you are perfectly suited for the position.

Extra insight: For a fresh graduate, since you may not have much experience to site, focus on your interests. Additionally, showcase the skills you have attained and how they are relevant to the job.

3. Skills and Qualifications

The basics: Remember to give the recruiter exactly what they want and in the easiest way possible and not have them struggle to find relevant information. While writing this particular section, it is important to keep in mind the industry keywords that are relevant to different roles.

For example:

  • Data Scientist roles often require programming skills in languages like Python and R.
  • Business Development requires critical skills like analytical thinking and communication skills, and sometimes financial modeling, among others.
  • Customer Service roles require skills in problem-solving, communication, attention to detail, and demonstrating empathy.

Extra insight: As your working on how to improve a resume, go through the job description and pick out the must-have skills and qualifications that you possess. Ensure that these are what the employer sees first while reviewing your resume. Some organisations use applicant tracking systems that will scan for keywords in your CV. Hence, it’s even more important to include words and phrases from the job description.

4. Experience

This being the meat of your resume, you want to ensure that you clearly and honestly present your employment history.

The essentials in this section include the company name, your title, years you were employed and a summary (preferably in bullet points) of your responsibilities and accomplishments.

More importantly, as much as possible, do try to quantify your achievements in terms of numbers or other concrete performance measures.

How?

Example:

For sales roles, to improve a resume, you may choose to show your impact by using statements such as:

  • Increased customer engagement and online presence by…
  • Strengthened performance by…

For finance roles, showcase your knowledge of the industry and share achievements that demonstrate your ability to maximise the utilization of financial resources.

For managerial roles, leadership skills are essential.

  • Showcase how you have lead teams towards the achievements of organizational objectives.
  • Showcase how you have also contributed towards the professional development of your employees. For example, training programmes that have been implemented, mentoring team members into junior/mid-senior level managers are some of the things you can highlight.

For customer service roles, showcase how you have contributed to ensuring excellent customer experience to your clients:

  • Mention instances where you developed a program and/or implemented a system which increased the efficiency of a product or service offered by the organisation. Leading to Customer retention.

For more experienced professionals who have worked across different sectors, you do not need to include jobs that are not related to the one you are applying for.

Entry-level individuals who do not have on the job experience should include any temporary positions, internships or volunteer work that emphasise the skills related to the job.

5. Hobbies and Interests

The basics: If you are new in the job market or do not have a lot of experience, this can be the place to differentiate yourself. You never know when your side hustle, hobby or passion will connect with a hiring manager. For example, listing team sports or activities would indicate that you would be a good team player. Additionally, social hobbies, such as mentoring, suggest that you can communicate and connect well with others. These can help find a fit where otherwise the role may have been a stretch.

When figuring out how to improve a resume, don’t forget…

Proofread your resume. Make sure there are no spelling mistakes or grammatically incorrect sentences.

Your resume should be well organised, with uniform font, punctuation, and spacing. Use soft and easily readable fonts like Calibri, Garamond Cambria, Times New Roman or Trebuchet MS. Moreover, avoid the use of bold and weighty fonts such as Impact, and the same goes for unnecessary graphics, logos and pictures.

Have someone you trust to read and give you their honest opinion as well as suggest changes where necessary.

Check out these sample resumes that illustrate a majority of the points I covered above in this guide on how to improve a resume. I hope these tips will be helpful to as you chase your next big break!

We’d love to hear from you!

Share your tried-and-true resume-writing tips in the comments. Do let me know what other career-related topics you would like to learn about.

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Related: How To Tailor Your CV: Customize For Each New Role

How to Ace Your Next Interview — Part 3: What to do post-interview to seal the deal

1200 900 Brenda Akinyi

In my role as Applicant Care Associate in our Nairobi office, I’m here for candidates from start to finish of their applications — answering questions over phone and e-mail, and always making process improvements to make sure the Shortlist platform is candidate-friendly.

Shortlist helps candidates find and apply to great jobs, and the best-fit candidates advance to interviews with employers. We’ve written a practical guide for jobseekers like you, to make sure you put your best foot forward and feel prepared and confident for the big day! In this post, I’ll share tips for best practices during your interview. In case you missed them, check out the first two posts in this series — what to do before and during your interview.

So you just wrapped up your interview, and are feeling great about it! What can you do post-interview to seal the deal?

1. Take stock of your performance, and of your experience

Dedicate ten minutes to jotting down what you think went well, and what you could improve on the next time. If you were caught off-guard by any of their questions, take note so you can prepare an answer for future interviews.

Make sure you take time to reflect on how you felt about the experience, as well. Could you see yourself thriving in their office and working with the interviewers you met? If for some reason you feel you are no longer a fit, better to let them know now instead of at the end of the process.

2. Follow up promptly and persuasively

Be sure to send a personalized thank you note to each of the interviewers you met with, customizing the e-mail to include what you talked about and what you learned from each person. This is a crucial step — while sending thank you notes won’t ensure you get the job, failing to send them will cause the employer to doubt your interest and professionalism.

3. If you get a rejection

Even though you’re disappointed, be sure to respond promptly, thanking them for their consideration. Reflect on any feedback they shared about your performance, comparing this with your original post-interview notes.

Remember that the chosen candidate may eventually not accept the job offer and you could just be up next on the list. The employer may retain your information for consideration whenever there are other suitable openings in the future. They may also consider you for a different role altogether, if you’ve shown that you might be a better fit for a different position.

Regardless, if this is a company you really want to work for, try to maintain a positive relationship with the employer. You never know what could happen!

4. If you get the job🎉

Congratulations! No doubt your interviewing skills and etiquette helped you clinch the job offer. Way to go!

We hope this blog series helped you set yourself up for interviewing success. Even if you did not get the job offer, you can still have the comfort of knowing you fully prepared and tried your best.

We would love to hear from you! What other career-related topics you would like to learn about in our next series? Let us know in the comments below.

How to Ace Your Next Interview — Part 2: The Interview

1200 900 Brenda Akinyi

In my role as Applicant Care Associate in our Nairobi office, I’m here for candidates from start to finish of their applications — answering questions over phone and e-mail, and always making process improvements to make sure the Shortlist platform is candidate-friendly.

Shortlist helps candidates find and apply to great jobs, and the best-fit candidates advance to interviews with employers. We’ve written a practical guide for jobseekers like you, to make sure you put your best foot forward and feel prepared and confident for the big day! In this post, I’ll share tips for best practices during your interview. In case you missed it, check out this post on how to prep for your interview. Up next in the series — what to do after your interview to seal the deal.

So you landed an interview, prepared thoroughly, and just walked in the door — what do you need to do next to make sure you leave a lasting impression?

  1. Make a good first impression

Greet the receptionist and warmly introduce yourself and explain your appointment. When you meet the interviewer(s) give them a firm handshake and thank them for seeing you for an interview.

There may be small talk, be sure to follow the employer’s lead and let them guide the conversation. They are busy and might want to get right to the interview questions!

2. Pay attention to your body language

We can communicate a lot without uttering a single word, even if it’s subconscious. The right body language can help you give the impression that you’re confident, personable, and extremely interested in the conversation you have with each interviewer. A few tips:

  • Sit up straight and display your neck and chest area to show that you are open.
  • When using hand gestures, keep your hands above the desk and below the collarbone — any higher can make you appear frantic.
  • Keep your arms and legs uncrossed, as doing so can make you appear defensive and guarded.
  • Try to avoid fidgeting, which can make you seem nervous.
  • Be sure to maintain regular but not overly persistent eye contact throughout the interview.
  • Most importantly — smile! It creates a positive environment for both you and the interviewer, and can actually make you feel better throughout the conversation.

3. Be concise, focused, and yourself!

When the interviewer asks a question, it’s perfectly fine to collect your thoughts for a few moments before you respond. Make sure to answer each question truthfully and completely, but without rambling on for too long. Keep your knowledge of the company and open position in the forefront of your mind as you answer, making connections between your background and skills and what they’re seeking in this role.

4. What to do with panel interviews

If you find yourself in a panel interview, make sure you briefly address each individual with your gaze and return your attention to the person who has asked you a question.

5. Remember, you’re interviewing them too!

Most interviewers will give you an opportunity to ask questions at the end of your session. Don’t let this opportunity pass you up — not only does it give you the chance to learn more information, but it can show that you’re a critical thinker.

Some questions will flow naturally from the interview, but we recommend preparing a few in advance, too (see other ways to prepare in this blog post!). Some example questions include

  • I was excited to read that [element of their work culture] is a major part of your company culture. How have you experienced that during your time here?
  • How could I grow and evolve in this role in a way that would support the organization?
  • What is the biggest priority for your department/company right now? Any challenges?

6. Get to know the next steps

You can directly ask the interviewer what the next steps of the process will be. Avoid settling for the common “We’ll get in touch with you” response that places you in a passive position.

Should the interviewer give you such a response, you may politely ask them to give you a timeline within which you can expect feedback or to follow up with them.

We hope these tips will be helpful for you to keep in mind when you walk in for your next interview — you got this!!

We would love to hear from you! Share your tried-and-true interview tips in the comments, and please let us know what other career-related topics you would like to learn about.