A different CV for each job application?

Q: Do I change my CV for each job application or maintain a large stock of my “current CV” and use that continuously?

Mark McDonald, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers Dublin, replies: I have presented to, and spoken with, numerous job seekers throughout the country over the last few years. A common question which keeps recurring is the one regarding “my current CV” and whether to keep sending it out as it is or change it for different job applications. Mark McDonald, CV Intro

My answer has always been the same. If your CV correctly matches the required skills and experience for the job in question, then you don’t need to change it. However, the likelihood of your CV being an exact match for every job you apply for is quite slim. Therefore, my advice would be to say, yes you most likely will need to change or tweak your CV depending of the requirements of the job as advertised. Take a step back for the moment and put yourself in the position of the employer or hiring manager to whom you will be applying to.

They have spent time and energy in creating a job spec which they believe will clearly outline the core skills and experience which they deem necessary in order to be a successful applicant. Let’s call these terms key words. In reality, these key words are what people look for from an application. Your cover letter, personal statement, and CV all need to reflect these key words in some manner.  Don’t however view this as an option to bombard your application with every key word mentioned in the job spec. You need to be clever and subtle.

You need to sit back and properly study the content of the job spec. Then begin the process of documenting your own skills, experience, and qualifications. Draft your cover letter in such a way that you can highlight your relevance for the job as advertised. Remember, you have a tiny window in which you can grab the attention of the person viewing your application which in some cases can be as low as 5 – 7 seconds.

Think about your skills and in particular, think about transferable skills which can be applied in a new career environment. Then begin to construct your CV paying particular attention to the key words mentioned in the job spec. Where possible, match your background to the key words required without making claims that you won’t be able to back up at interview stage. The key point here is relevance. Make your application as relevant as possible while resisting the urge to copy every job spec key word into your cover letter and CV.

The ultimate aim of your CV and cover letter is to give an employer a reason to call you for interview. Once you get to this stage you need to be prepared to back up the statements you have made in your CV with some real life examples.

So, in reality do you need to change or edit your CV for each job application? In my opinion the answer is yes but not to the point where you rip it up and start again each time. Always put yourself in the shoes of the employer who will read your application as ask yourself, “have I done enough to show this person that I match the key words and should be called for interview”.

Mark McDonald is a Career Coach with Sli Nua Careers and works out of Dublin North. You can read more about him, and make a booking HERE for CV Preparation and Interview Training.

More articles from his blog can be accessed HERE