How To Apply to a Job Opening- “Tailor Making” your CV


If you are currently job hunting, chances are that you spend quite a considerable amount of time on the internet searching for job openings.  You probably have a CV and cover letter ready for immediate posting once you see a potential advertisement.  While it is a good thing to be prepared to snatch up a position as soon as it appears online, it is quite counterproductive to send your generic, ready made CV and cover letter without tailor making them for the position at hand.

Any employer/ HR manager can tell a generic CV from a mile away. A generic CV is one that says everything- and nothing at the same time. It says everything because it has all relevant information about you and nothing because it does not tell the current employer reading it how you fit in his company.  It is the kind of CV that you can send to five different companies for five completely different positions and it would still appear relevant. If a potential employer does not connect with your CV they have no reason to choose you.

What does tailor making a CV entail and why is it important?

Tailor making a CV is writing it specifically for a particular position in a particular company. This is important because it makes you relevant to the position that you are applying for. Assume that an employer has received 200 CV’s for a certain position, and all 200 people are equally qualified. What makes your CV stand out? Why will he consider yours and not the others? 


How to Tailor Make a CV

1. Read the requirements and understand the position

Every job advertisement will come with minimum requirements that the company is looking for.  Do you have these? In many instances people apply to ‘everything’ whether they qualify or not- just to try their luck.  If you are sending a generic CV to positions that you qualify for and to those that you don’t, chances are you are not receiving any call backs.

Tailor making a CV can assist in applying for those jobs that you are well qualified for.  Let us look at an example of how to go about this below. After reading the requirements and noting which you have and which you do not have, it’s time to get to point number two:

2. Research the company

Before sending your CV for any positions- you must research the company to know who they are and what they do. The easiest way to learn about a company is to visit their website. You can also look around the internet for other information such as items in newspapers, magazines etc.  Read the company motto, vision, CEO message etc. Researching the company is important as it will help you understand who they are and what they do, and this will help you to align your goals to theirs and to find action words that you can use to make a connection with the person reading your CV. In cases where the advert does not mention the name of the company, you can still use the position and job description to gauge what kind of a company it is and research other related ones.

Let us look at an example of this. Say you are applying for a position of Travel Consultant at XYZ Company. The Company describes themselves as ‘travel enthusiasts ‘on their website. How would you tailor make this to your advantage?  Feel free to ‘steal’ key words from their website. You can describe yourself as

‘ a travel enthusiast with a degree in tourism and travel and 2 years’ experience as a travel consultant who has also toured different places in  ten Counties in Kenya’

If they were looking for a person with a degree in tourism and travel, you are one among say 200 applicants. If they also wanted someone with travel consultancy experience then you are one in 100 applicants. If they also would prefer someone who knows the country well and who loves to travel but did not include this in the advert, then you have made an instant connection with the person reading your CV.

The information you know about an employer will also help you not only in applying but in an interview if you are called for one.  I recently conducted some interviews for about 10 people and the first question I asked was- what do you know about our company or have you seen our website? – None of the 10 people knew who we were or what we did, even though we had put our name on the advert. Since most were equally qualified, anyone who would have known something about our company would have made an immediate connection with me.

3. Borrow action words

The other important thing that you have to do is to borrow words from the employer to describe your own qualifications and skills (while staying true to your abilities- in other words don’t lie). Up there we borrowed the words ‘travel enthusiast’. By reading through a company profile or website you can begin to have an idea of what kind of a place it is and from here you can compile a list of action words that you can use in your CV to describe your own experience or motivation . Examples of action words would be managed, devised, compared, informed, advised, created, finished, analyzed, obtained and other action words. These words show what you did, followed by the results. Action words help an employer to see how you can help his company achieve results.

For instance in keeping with the above example for a travel consultant job, you could say “during my internship with XYZ company I compared and analyzed various travel destinations and travel patterns along with client’s needs and was able conclude that a good percentage of  tourists with small children preferred hotels where they could get a self- catering option. This information helped my superiors in bringing on board more such properties which increased the sales revenues by 15%”.

Finally, as emphasized in various other articles a generic CV tells the employer one of a few things- I am just looking for anything that is available, I don’t know who you are but I hope you give me a job anyway, I don’t care what you do all I need is a job etc.  Before hitting the send button ask yourself, what does this CV say about me and have I demonstrated that I am the right fit for the job at hand?



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