Do you send numerous standard cover letters and always the same CV when searching for a job? If so, you should consider rethinking your strategy.

Sending dozens of standard applications can be counterproductive. On the one hand, you may waste time applying for jobs you are underqualified or overqualified for. On the other hand, recruiters and personnel consultants quickly recognise standard applications – which is even worse. You should therefore limit yourself to positions which suit you well. Take your time to prepare a tailor-made application.

Take the recruiter’s perspective

Consider what a recruiter or potential employer is looking for when they review your CV. They aren’t just checking that you fit the basic requirements of the job, they are trying to gauge whether your particular skills and experience make you a good fit for the role. The closer your CV fits with the culture and characteristics of the company, the better your chances of standing out from the crowd.

Tailoring your CV for every application might sound like a time-consuming process, but it can dramatically improve your chances of getting to the top of the pile and securing an interview.

Your standard CV as a basis

You should already have a ‘generic’ CV. This is the standard CV that includes pretty much everything an employer or recruiter will be interested in: your personal statement; your detailed employment history, complete with a list of duties; your skills, achievements and hobbies. This is your key job seeking tool, which you will update as you go through your working life.

But here’s the important thing. You must never send your generic CV to an employer. Why? It is very unlikely that your template CV will be perfectly attuned to the requirements of any particular job that you’re applying for. Instead, every time you apply for a job, take this generic CV as your starting point and adapt it to the position you are interested in. Taking the time and effort at this stage of the process will pay huge dividends.

Warum Sie Ihren Lebenslauf bei jeder Bewerbung anpassen sollten

Three helpful steps to customise your CV

So, how exactly do you go about the tailoring process? Here are some important tips to help you adapt your CV so that it closely reflects what the job description is asking for, and speaks directly to the recruiter and hiring in a way that no generic CV can.

1. Search for keywords and text passages in the job description

The best place to start the CV tailoring process is to go through the job description, highlighting the keywords and phrases. List these on a separate piece of paper, grouping them into the following categories: soft skills, technical abilities and job experience. This will make it easier to incorporate the keywords and phrases into the relevant sections of your core CV: the personal statement, skills and employment history respectively.

2. Optimise your personal statement

Next you should tailor your personal statement. Explain to the reader why you are keen to work not just in this specific industry, but with this particular company. Make sure that your personal statement mirrors the qualities, character and experience specified by the job description, and try to fit the tone of your statement to the style of the job description. This will grab the recruiter’s attention and pitch you as the perfect fit for the job.

3. Revise your professional career

Finally, take some additional time to polish your work history. It is important not to embroider the truth, so everything in your employment history must be true, but you should adapt it by making sure that you highlight those duties and achievements that are also mentioned in the job description. This will further underline how well suited you are to the role.

It will undoubtedly take some time to adapt your CV, so you probably won't be able to send dozens of applications a day. However, in today's highly competitive job market, quality always outweighs quantity. So, do everything you can to stand out from the crowd and make sure that your CV is always tailored to the job.