CV advice. There’s lots of it out there. Sadly though, not much is of any real use. Mainly it’s ghost-written content spouting clichés like “no more than 2 sides of A4” or “use this perfect 6-sentence structure for your personal profile”.
Alas, it’s mostly a mixture of common sense and guff.
One of the repeat offenders on the CV cliché front is the advice that you should "tailor your CV for every application you make".
For experienced professionals, I would disagree. Here’s why…
1. The receiver is not an egomaniac (usually…)
I’ve been recruiting for a long time. Headhunting and in-house talent acquisition. I can tell you that I have never rejected a candidate because their CV lacks personalisation or reference to the company I am hiring for. Never.
Now, there is an element of egocentricity in the way the reader engages with your CV. They want to see the skills, experience and value that they need, and they want to find it as quickly as possible.
You can serve this need by being as concise as possible and by clearly demonstrating the value that you bring. You don’t need to use their language or tell them how great they are.
2. It takes far too long
Taking it from scratch to draft, write and edit an excellent CV takes around 5 hours. To re-write an existing CV can take 90 minutes (including re-formatting, target research, review and final edits).
If you are going about your job search in the best way, you should be making as many as 25 approaches per week. If you tailor your CV specifically for each one, that’s not a kick-in-the-butt off of a full working week just re-writing your CV. In the words of the great philosopher and sage Edmund Blackadder, doing so “would be like attaching wheels to a tomato; time consuming and completely unnecessary”.
The bulk of your time needs to be spent on uncovering new opportunities and engaging directly with relevant people. If you do 25 CV re-writes per week, you won’t have time to do anything else.
3. It can lead to serious mistakes
This is a simple one. The more CVs you have, the more likely it is that you will share the wrong one with the wrong person.
If I’m hiring for Google, I don’t want to read a CV that gushes with enthusiasm about the prospect of working with Apple. And yes, I have seen this happen. Several times.
The person hiring will definitely notice and will not take kindly to this kind of mistake. On the other hand, they will not notice at all if you don’t even mention Google in your CV. So long as you have the skills and experience they are looking for and you can demonstrate your value.
4. Most jobs are not found via a standard application process
Let’s say you were to re-write your CV for every opportunity. What about jobs that are not advertised? Or recruiters finding your CV on a job-board?
The truth is something like 60% of jobs are never advertised. Direct applications to specific job advertisements are only a part of your job search strategy. Or at least, they should be. If it’s the only thing you are doing, you are seriously missing out on opportunities.
Your CV should be written in a way that assumes that anyone can find it and read it. And it should be written with the aim of making your target audience want to speak with you to find out more.
5. You should have a cover letter
If you are making a direct application to a specific job post, by all means personalise the application to the company at hand. Just don’t do it in your CV.
This is what cover letters are for. An introduction that adds context to your application and why you have applied.
Using a suitable cover letter template that can be very easily re-written will save valuable time in your job search and allow you to add that personal touch to your direct applications.
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