How to tailor your CV / resume in 4 easy steps
Essentially all jobs require some way to validate that the candidate is suitable for the role, and most often, this takes the form of a CV or resume.
Ideally, your resume should be tailored or customised for each job ad.
This article will show you four steps to tailor your resume and includes an example from an actual job ad.
The 4 steps
- Analyse the job requirements
- Prioritise key attributes for fulfilling those job requirements
- Align your experience to those key attributes
- Communicate that alignment effectively
Essentially, you want to show how the experience you have demonstrates the key attributes necessary to fulfil the job requirements.
As an example, we will be using a job ad for a Facilities Manager in the education sector, which is shown in full at the bottom of this article with excerpts where needed.
Step 1. Analyse
The first step is to analyse the job description and pick out the key requirements and responsibilities of the job. A tip is to look for verbs - action words.
For example, in this sample Facilities Manager job description, the verbs have been bolded:
Facilities management includes though may not be restricted to:
- Liaising with external contractors.
- Scheduling and managing maintenance activities.
- Implementing and monitoring process and policy for the issue of school keys to staff, hirers and community users.
- Conducting inspections to ensure building and facilities comply with all security and safety requirements for all users.
- Maintenance of buildings and grounds, and procurement of furniture and fittings.
- Oversee facility hire activities including liaison with hirers and development of hire agreements for approval.
- Cleaning operations including the review of cleaning areas and supervision of cleaning staff.
- Prioritise and schedule work commitments to meet agreed service standards.
- Assist in identifying and implementing process improvement opportunities.
Step 2. Prioritise
The second step is to determine the key attributes for fulfilling the job requirements, grouping them where possible, and prioritising them so that you can appropriately focus the content on your resume.
Ask yourself: “what attribute/s will allow me to perform those key actions successfully?”
In our Facilities Manager example, these prioritised attributes based on categorising the verbs could be:
- Organised: scheduling (two occurrences), managing, implementing (two occurrences), maintenance, prioritise
- Detail-oriented: monitoring, conducting inspections, maintenance, procurement, oversee, cleaning operations, identifying
- Good Communicator: liaising (two occurrences)
Step 3. Align
The third step is to find examples that demonstrate those key attributes. If those attributes are in the specific context of the job requirements, even better.
For our Facilities Manager example:
- Someone who has a background in administration (non-facilities) or management may choose to highlight experiences that show an ability to organise / schedule
- Someone with direct procurement experience may demonstrate both attention to detail and organisation capabilities
- Someone with more customer-facing experience may highlight communication abilities
Step 4. Communicate
Now for the most difficult part – communicating how your experience makes you the best person for the job.
Aim for clarity, then conciseness, and think about:
- ‘Content’ - what you say
- Be specific, and only include relevant info (see [Does it matter?]())
- Include both process and outcomes (where possible)
- Do not ignore special requests, e.g. for references / cover letters
- ‘Order’ - what sequence you present the content in (informed by step 2)
- Reverse chronological – most suitable for steps that ‘make sense’, and requirements are ‘directly’ fulfilled. This usually means that the most recent role is also the most relevant
- Functional – more suitable for career changes, and more inferred requirement fulfilment. In this case, the sequence will depend on the prioritisation in step 2 (also see How to Switch to a Job in a Different Industry)
- ‘Style’ - how you say it
- Mirror the words and style used in the job description
- Use bullet points where appropriate as they help to order and condense information
- Prefer using verbs (action words) to start bullet points
- No need for pronouns, such as ‘I’, as the Resume is clearly about you
For our Facilities Manager job, let’s take an example of a candidate coming from a retail manager role.
- Based on step 2, focus on activities involving organising the store, maintaining stock, and dealing with staff and customers (avoid industry-specific jargon)
- e.g. Managed an inventory of 350 SKUs and fulfilled 95% of customer orders within 3 days
- The example job description specifically requests for:
- 2 referees (one of whom should be your current supervisor)
- a maximum 2-page written response outlining your suitability for the role
- Reverse chronological would likely be the most suitable format
- Use the same verbs bolded in step 1, e.g.:
- Liaised with suppliers
- Scheduled shifts for 6 staff
- Managed maintenance and cleanliness of retail stores to agreed service standards
- Use the same verbs bolded in step 1, e.g.:
Remember that tailoring requires there to be some reasonable degree of alignment between the job requirements and your experiences. If you are struggling to with the alignment step, perhaps reconsider if this is really the job for you, or look for ways to gain experience in obvious gaps.
Stay tuned for future articles on dealing with real or perceived experience gaps in our upcoming articles on upskilling.
Thanks for reading, and good luck!