How to Adapt your CV for a Specific Job

You should never ever send a generic CV in for a job role.  You simply have to up your game these days and stand out to be seen.

If you are smart, you will have the type of CV that is easy to customise.  If you haven’t got one like that, then I strongly urge you to consider my inexpensive but highly professional CV writing kit –

Once you’ve found a job you’d like to apply for, then print off the job advert and arm yourself with a highlighter pen.

Go through the advert and highlight the essential words and phrases that you think are essential to the role.  The key point here, is that their most required skills/traits are always towards the top of the advert.

Once you’ve highlighted the essential elements, ask yourself whether you have those skills they require for that role.  If so, get customising your CV!

In your Key Skills area of our CV, you need to mirror and match what they are asking for – but don’t just copy!   For instance if they are looking for a team player, you could put that you are a collaborator.  If they are looking for someone with attention to detail, you could put that your are quality-orientated.

Next look at the job spec and see what they require and again you are going to mirror and match that in your bullet points that you list under your career experience section, for each of your roles.

For example, say the job spec says:

‘Must have experienced of working with Excel spreadsheets’

If you have direct experience of that, then write that as one of your top 3 bullet points.

Top-loading and front-loading

Most recruiters initially never read the full CV.  They skim, scan and scroll.  Therefore your ‘good stuff’ needs to be towards the top of your bullet points and the sentences have to have the ‘wow’ factor up at the front of the sentence.

Once you’ve finished customising your CV give it one last check over.  Go back to the job advert and tick off where you’ve demonstrated those skills.  Hopefully you will fit the role 100%.  Then run your CV through the spell-checker (most important).  It is so easy to get rejected for silly spelling mistakes!

By doing this, I guarantee you’ll start to get more invites to interview, as you’ll match more closely the person they are looking to recruit!

As always, if I can help you with anything specific, please do not hesitate to email me:


The Secret Formula for Writing CV’s that get you Interviews!

goldenkey_123rfTired of sending out your CV and not getting an interview?

Or worst still, not getting a reply at all?

Well it may be because your CV is not catching the recruiter’s eye or you’ve made it too ‘generic’.

Curriculum vitae in Latin means ‘whole of life’ and that’s exactly what people put in their CV’s – everything!

These days it has to be ‘tailored’ to suit the role you are applying for and it’s easy once you follow these 5 steps.

  1. Print off the advert (or better still the Job Description/Person Spec) if they sent this to you. You can’t do this online so print it and grab a highlighter pen.
  2. What comes higher up in the job ad is the most ‘valuable’ to the company, so make sure you highlight these skills on your CV too and have them appear high up on your first page. Then look for personality traits and highlight those.  This will give you a feel for the type of person who will fit in well.
  3. Next look for any qualifications they see as ‘essential’ or ‘desirable’ and highlight those.
  4. Armed with this highlighted sheet you now need to tailor your CV to those specific needs. ‘Mirror and match’ things back like qualifications.  Mirror and match back more subtly other personality traits, i.e. if they are looking for a ‘person with drive” you could put that you are ‘tenacious’.  Use your key skills section to highlight these points so they appear high up on the first page of your CV.  Weave in everything they need into your CV so they think they are looking at the ‘perfect match’.
  5. When you’ve finished tailoring your CV, print off your front page and do the ’15 second WOW test’. Fold the bottom 1/3rd of your page under (backwards) and then read what’s on the top 2/3rd’s in 15 seconds.  Do you answer the brief?  Do you have the right skills, experience and qualities they are looking for?  Imagine yourself in the recruiter’s shoes reading your CV for the first time.  Because that’s all the time you get to make that 1st impression – 15 seconds!  And if you don’t look like you fit the bill you will go on the reject pile.  Trust me, I know – I was a that recruiter!

That’s exactly how it’s done.  We have a list of qualities we are looking for and your CV needs to show you have what we need.

Now can you see how a ‘generic’ CV would just get put on the reject pile and how some other candidate who tailored their CV would get the edge over you?

If you want to run your CV past me and get a FREE CV REVIEW, I’m happy to do that, with no obligation.  My reports are legendary for turning negative CV’s into positive ones that open doors to interview!

How to Target your CV

Target_123rf.FREEAs a former HR Manager, when one of my Heads of Department had a vacancy to advertise, we would sit down and write a job description and a person specification.

That exercise is very interesting because those documents will be written in such a way that is gold dust to the applicant.

If I asked you to describe yourself to me, the first things you’d tell me would be the absolutely crucial traits that you’d want to convey. If we did that exercise for 5 minutes, the things that you’d say in minute 4, would still be relevant, but not as pertinent as the ones you said in minute 1.

The same goes for the person specification and job description. The things that are the MOST IMPORTANT always appear in the top 3rd of the page, and that’s the exact skills, traits and competencies that you should be ‘mirror and matching’ back in your CV or application form.

You want to get the recruiter to feel that you really ‘tick all the boxes’ so that’s why each CV needs to be tailored to each vacancy. That hopefully will get you on the ‘invite to interview’ list, rather than on the ‘reject’ pile.

The company gives you the clues … you just have to pick up on them!

Correct CV Headings

CV.123rfBOUGHTAll CV’s benefit from being broken down into sections, perhaps using shaded areas to break the page up so your eye is drawn to the various headings.

The types of headings you use may be different depending on your career to date and your aspirations.

Do not write Curriculum Vitae across the top.  Everyone knows what this document is, so it’s not necessary.  Use that space at the top to write your name in a large bold font.  In a smaller font underneath put your contact details.  Note it is not necessary to write the words ‘address’ ‘contact details’ or anything similar.  Keep this section really clean and clear.  If you have a shortened customised URL link for your LinkedIn profile, add that in here too.

Your first section should be your Profile.  No longer than 3-5 lines long.  You can call this a ‘Personal Profile’, ‘Profile’, or ‘Professional Profile’.  But don’t call it a ‘Personal Statement’!  That is reserved for when you are applying for entry into a university and you are past that stage!

The next section can be called ‘Key Skills‘ or ‘Areas of Expertise’ or ‘Key Strengths’.  Think very carefully what you call this section as it really does matter.  Key Strengths can be good when you have just graduated as you are working towards honing these skills.  Key Skills is good for when they are definitely under your belt, and Areas of Expertise is just that – when you feel you have the knowledge and experience in those areas, to match the skill set.

The next section lists your Employment History.  Again, the heading can say masses about you.  For instance does ‘Work History’ sound like you are a professional person or not?  What sort of image does ‘Career History’, ‘Career Summary’, or ‘Professional Career’ sum up.  Hopefully something on a higher level!

Next should come your Education and Qualifications section.  If you’ve just left uni ‘Education & Qualifications’ are fine.  If you have been on training courses and have more of a career under your belt then ‘Professional Qualifications, Training & Education’ might be a more appropriate header.

If you belong to any Associations, then consider ‘Professional Qualifications, Education & Memberships’ instead.

An Additional Information section is sometimes good.  Here you could put in your availability, that you have a clean driving licence, or any language or computer skills you have etc.

Hobbies & Interests should always be included.  You don’t need many – just 3-4 will do.  List them like Running  |  Ballroom Dancing  |  Charity Work.  Words with a | in-between.

And lastly, References.  With the line ‘Available upon request’ underneath.  You do not need to stipulate who your referees are at this point.  Unless you particularly want to brag/impress the recruiting manager!


As always, if you have a specific question you’d like me to answer, please do not hesitate to drop me a line


What is the ’15 second WOW test’?

In the last surgery advice I shared with you the secrets of how a recruiting manager sifts CV’s for interview.

Here I’ll reveal what they are looking for and what exactly the ’15 second WOW test’ is.

Take a copy of your printed CV and fold the bottom third of the page back on itself (so you only have the first two-thirds showing).  Now read the job description and the person specification for the job you want to apply for, to ensure you have a picture in your mind of the person they want (skills, experience, personality traits, competencies etc).

You have 15 seconds to read the two-thirds of a page and decide whether you match what they are looking for.  Do they think ‘WOW’ this candidate seems to have what we need?  If yes, your CV will be placed on the ‘definitely’ pile.  And if not, you’ll go straight on the reject pile (see last week’s surgery advice for clarification here).

It doesn’t matter that your 2nd page might demonstrate all the skills, experience and personality you think they need, that won’t get read during the ’15 second WOW test’.

So the aim is to get your front page looking like a ‘sweet shop window’ – full of enticing goodies!!  Your CV has to grab their attention at this point and make them want to read on.

In next week’s surgery advice I’ll show you how this is done, very easily.


If you need a quick question answering – please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Does your CV get read?

Ever wondered whether your CV is actually read by the recruiting manager?

Chances are, if they are inundated with candidates they will only do the ’15 second WOW test’.  (Some recruiter do it in less – 6 seconds).

As an HR Manager for a large plc I often had 10-15 vacancies that I was recruiting for at any one time.  Each vacancy drew in around 100+ CV’s.  Do the math(s).  If I spent 15 minutes reading each CV, I’d never do anything else!

100 CV’s x 15 m = 1500 minutes (= 25 hours)

x 10 vacancies = 250 hours (= 6+ weeks) just reading CV’s!

Here is what really happens.

The recruiting manager has a copy of the job description and person specification on their desk and will do a 15 second scan of each CV.  If it doesn’t pass the ‘WOW’ test it goes straight on the reject pile.  If however, it seems to have the key skills, experience and competencies required it will go on the ‘definitely’ or ‘maybe’ pile.  Working this way a pile of 100 CV’s can be sifted in 1500 seconds = 41 minutes.

The ‘definitely’ pile will then get a more in-depth read and either put on an ‘invite to interview’ pile or on to the ‘reject’ pile.

Approximately 6-8 candidates will then be selected.  If there is too few candidates from the ‘definitely’ pile, then the  ‘maybe’ pile will be read too.

So, your hard work may have gone unrewarded.  Sorry to have to break the news like that, but this is reality I’m afraid  🙁

Come back next week to learn how to get past the ’15 second WOW test’ and get a greater chance of being selected for interview.


As always, if you need help with your CV, please do not hesitate to contact me.  Quick questions are free!

Should I Include a Cover Letter with My CV?

This is a question I get asked virtually weekly, so I thought I’d let you know what I normally reply and talk you through my reasons.

As you know, I was a former HR Manager before becoming a Career Coach and therefore have recruited for lots of positions throughout my career.  Imagine me sat at my desk and opening envelopes containing CV’s and doing the same via email.  At any one time I could have up to 15 positions that I was recruiting for and my time was precious.

The first envelope I open has a CV only.  No covering letter and so I have NO IDEA what they are applying for.  That CV deserves to go straight in the bin.  They have missed an opportunity to ‘sell’ themselves to me!

The second one I open has a CV and a covering letter.  In that covering letter the first paragraph clearly states the job they are applying for (tick).  Not only have I got 2 pages of CV, but I’ve also got another page (the covering letter) of additional information about that candidate.  3 pages in all!

The third one I open has a CV and covering letter (tick) AND on the CV is a URL to take me directly to their LinkedIn profile (tick).  I now have the equivalent of 5 pages for this client.

Do you want the opportunity to ‘sell’ yourself to that prospective company?  Then take the next step and produce a great covering letter and put your LinkedIn URL on your CV too.  This is your sales brochure so sell yourself!