Should you tailor your CV to every application?

column-181570480In the present day, responding to an advert, and therefore applying for a job can be a “one click” process. You have a stock CV and all you need to do it is click on the “Apply Now” button. Away it goes. No cover letter, no explanation, no effort. “Great! Isn’t that efficient?” you may say. And it may be, if you are looking for a position in the same sector using skills and experience gained from your most recent role. But, if you have a broad background and wish to highlight experience gained some time ago, or transferable skills that you need to explain, is it really feasible or desirable to create a one-size-fits-all CV?

I was recently speaking to a candidate who, back in the early 1980s, had worked in recruitment for a short while. We were discussing how the industry and job seeking process as a whole has changed and how technology has played a part. They lamented to some extent that, back in the “good old days”, a recruitment consultant knew their candidates extremely well and “went out to bat” for them, matching them to their clients, who they also had to know in detail.

This does raise an interesting point. Have the advances in technology and the job application process meant that there is less commitment in submitting an application? And, therefore, have candidates become lazier over the years?

The candidate had to admit that, back then, CVs and cover letters were generally hand-written with each individual application, job, or company in mind. So it seems that, arguably, there was a commitment made by applying for a job. From researching what they do, which was probably a lot harder back in the BG (Before Google) days, to highlighting key qualifications, skills and specific experience.

The candidate’s application relied upon some recent experience, which would mainly be supported by skills obtained earlier in her working life. We agreed that she needed to create a tailored CV that supported my introduction of her. It is surprising that so many candidates fail to see the importance of tailoring their applications to the job in hand. In doing this, though, they will actually stand out from the crowed, given how many people repeatedly fail to dedicate the time to do this.

In this instance, the extra effort paid off (as it very often does!). We have secured an interview for the candidate and she now has a chance to impress in person. For what it is worth, I think she will. She also freely admitted that firing off her CV without editing it was “a little bit lazy”. And that is precisely the impression so many applications form when they arrive with the would-be employer.

Many people these days have a standard CV and, when applying for a job, just “click and pray”. But is that the message you really want to give to a person you hope will choose you? If you want to make a positive impression, putting in a little more effort could see your application rise to the top of the paper sift and fast-track you through the door to interview. It certainly won’t hurt your chances!

Watson Evans Associates is a recruitment consultancy working with businesses across the South West. If you would like to learn more about how we work, please get in touch with Oliver Watson on 01872 306 111 or

Comments are closed.