Career Advice English for professional use

Customising/tailoring your CV for the right job (Part 2)

Last week we talked about the importance of simplicity, clarity and accuracy, as well as the basics of how to organise your CV. We also mentioned the importance of clearly displaying your contact details at the top of the first page.

How do I shape my CV to the job?

Once you have established these basics, you can then launch straight into your ‘Work’ or ‘Education History’, depending on what’s most important for the nature of the job. Aim to put these in reverse chronological order; that is, starting with your most recent job or qualification first. Given that you are tailoring your CV towards a particular job, you need to think about which of your work experiences or studied subjects, qualifications or university modules are most relevant to this post and prioritise them. For example, for a job in journalism, media experience and subjects like English and humanities are relevant, so be overt when referring to them.

Start by studying the job description and highlight the skills that the position requires. Then link your qualifications and experience to the job description. This will ensure that you don’t miss anything crucial.

If your degree is not directly linked to the job you want, think about what you can draw from your qualifications that is most relevant to the post. What modules did you study? A degree in mathematics that has modules in computing systems and analysis of databases could be hugely beneficial in jobs that require advanced computing skills. However, if you do not draw attention to this, you will have missed the opportunity to showcase your skills. In short, include relevant modules that you have studied if you think it will help you fit the role. For example:

University: The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Degree: Master of Philosophy in Mathematics  
Modules including: Advanced computing systems, knowledge discovery in databases

You may wish to list your academic qualifications by placing the most relevant subjects first. For a journalistic position, languages and essay-based subjects are of value. Candidates who have studied arts subjects will be considered creative and as having a sound ability to communicate. Top grades in any subject, regardless of its connection to a post, look good on a CV, so be sure to include them. Tell a good story about yourself and make the most of your credentials.