The biggest mistake many job candidates make is thinking that if they have a well put together, descriptive CV and covering letter that these will take them forward to any position of their choosing i.e. a good generic CV and covering letter can be used over and over again without any need for revamping or appealing more specifically to the skills set required for the position they are applying for.
Unfortunately in today’s highly competitive market this could not be further from the truth. While you may feel it is too time consuming to be adjusting your CV and covering letter to better appeal to each individual position you are applying for in the long term this will actually save you time. How? By making sure you don’t apply for positions that are not really within your target market and basically at the end of the day verifying the old phrase, ‘quality really is better than quantity.’
Every job application should be seen as an individual pursuit and you can always tailor fit your application to appeal to that Company or individual. All it takes is some time, thought, research and organization of the facts.
Sometimes a generic CV and cover letter does attract an employer but more often than not these days it will be put to one side. To ensure a better possibility of success you should always adhere to the following guidelines:
1. Study the job Advert carefully
Take a few minutes to read behind the lines and decipher what the employer really wants then make a list of how you feel your particular knowledge, experience and qualifications specifically adhere to this. Be very careful to give examples of past achievements that will back up any statements that you make.
2. Background research is crucial
Your first port of call should always be to have a look at the company website and Mission statement if they have one. Check for any recent news of new products, new Management or any new direction they may be contemplating. Nothing impresses an employer more than a candidate who can actually ask them some meaningful and informed questions about the company in question. Also tell them why you are the person who could best fit in with their particular company.
3. Tailor fit your CV
Today it is becoming more common to actually have two CV templates to work from the first being a chronological CV giving all your work history and educational achievements to date but now more increasingly employers are seeking a skill based CV which is more geared towards convincing them why your skills are what they are looking for. Try to gauge from the Advert which approach would be more suitable.
4. Pay particular Attention to your Covering letter
Your Covering letter is vital and can lead the potential employer on to studying your CV or maybe by passing it by entirely. Always be aware of the following:
- Tell them why you are the person for the job by saying it is the right time in your career to move forward giving appropriate examples of how your past experience fits this description and what this could bring to their company.
- Use every possible opportunity to sell yourself by emphasizing your skills and your past experience e.g. if it is a Sales role tell them about your success in the past and how you increased volumes or contributed to the overall increase of sales.
- Most importantly remember it is about quality and not quantity. Your CV should highlight at the most your top ten achievements which should span your whole career to date.
- Always try to set yourself apart from the competition with whatever means you feel are appropriate. Try to steer away from using clichéd expressions such as, ‘I am highly dynamic and innovative,’ instead show don’t tell, don’t just use bold, sweeping statements instead give an example as actions really do speak louder than words.