July 02, 2020

How to Customize your CV

Drake Editorial Team

Picture this – you’re about to start your job hunt, and have devised a masterful plan to put together the best CV you can, and fire it off to as many companies as possible in the hopes it will be a good match for something, somewhere. It’s the classic “throw mud against the wall and see if any of it sticks” approach.

Although this strategy is great for making you feel like you’re doing something positive in your job search, realistically you are likely wasting your time and energy.

One-size CV does NOT fit all

The one-size-fits-all CV (and its cousin, the one-size-fits-all cover letter) doesn’t work anymore. Put yourself in the employer’s shoes, and you can understand why. Employers dread sifting through the deluge of CVs they receive every time they advertise an open position – especially when the majority of applicants fail to tailor their CV to the position.

So when your generic, one-size- fits-all CV shows up alongside dozens of others, it’s likely to be ignored.

Tailor your CV to fit the job or company

Firstly, research the company that you want to work for. Thoroughly read the job description and highlight any keywords. If there are no jobs advertised, you can still proactively apply. When conducting research, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What are the company’s values and what is their mission statement?
  2. Who are the key players in the organization?
  3. What are 3 recent news stories either from the company or within the industry?

Finding out this information will already put you ahead of 90% of applicants. It shows your initiative and that you are interested in the company.

Show your passion

Applicants who are passionate about the position are those who invest the time and energy necessary to customize their CV and cover letter to suit both the role, and the company at hand.

If you take the time to identify those characteristics in the job description and highlight them on your CV (and cover letter), you’ll present yourself in the best possible light and elevate your application above and beyond the competition.

As a candidate, you need to understand what skills will be required from you. Make a list of products, services and who the company’s clients are to give you a better understanding of what or who you could potentially be working with.

Use an active voice and strong action words

Learning how to correctly use verbs and an active voice will make your CV stand out and sound punchy. What exactly are action words? These are verbs that clearly demonstrate an action. The active voice shows that you were directly involved rather than sitting on the side lines, watching it all happen.

Make sure you start each bullet point with a verb because it connects your work to the goal you accomplished.

For example:

“Responsible for answering phone calls”

Compared with:

“Promptly directed phone calls in queue to improve call flow”

The first sentence sounds boring and doesn’t show results. The second sentence is punchier and shows what you were involved in and your accomplishments. Scan through your CV and change a passive voice to active.

Highlight your achievements

Using language that showcases your achievements, rather than just “doing,” will make you sound confident and your CV will stand out compared to the rest.

What sounds better?

“A promotion was given to me after 1 year”


“After only 1 year, I earned a promotion to manager”

Remember, focus on YOUR achievements as well as the company’s results.

Why customizing your CV works:

Managers trying to fill an open position within their organization don’t want to hear from applicants half-heartedly ‘taking a shot’ at the role – they want to hear from those who really, truly want the opportunity.

Put yourself in the shoes of the hiring manager – which of the following candidates would be of greater interest to you?

Candidate 1 – Sent a generic cover letter and CV not particularly suited for any particular role or industry. This candidate has clearly applied for a large number of open positions as quickly as possible.

Candidate 2 – Has evidently researched your organization and tailored both their CV and tailored their CV and cover letter to suit the specific requirements of the role, and nuances of your organization. This candidate has clearly taken a keen interest in the position

Customizing your CV and cover letter takes time. It involves research, energy, and work. But does it give you a greater chance for a positive payoff that offsets this commitment? Absolutely.

 Talk to us


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