An experienced software tester has been unemployed for months and wants to start broadening her search. She includes such skills as Quality Control given her background in checking for software defect. A successful accountant in the private sector decides it’s time to work in the non-profit sector. Do either of these candidates require more than one well-written CV?

Let me first clarify what I mean by “separate” CVs. Basically this means a distinctly different CV in terms of sizeable portion of relevant content for each job you are applying for. This does not imply customising your CV to a specific job advertisement. Customising is when you use a single CV or Resume for every job, except that you make sure to revise minor portions of content to align with the unique expectations articulated in the job posting. Whether you are creating separate CVs for job postings that are clearly different or merely customising a single CV for different postings, you will end up with more than one version of your CV.

In the case of the software tester who wants to apply for Quality Control positions, should she customise her CV or create a separate CV from scratch?

You should create separate CVs if the types of jobs you’re pursuing require substantially distinct experiences, knowledge, skills and qualifications. Therefore, the software tester should use a version of CV for jobs in the software testing field and a unique CV for Quality Control positions.

Good news: unless you’re making a drastic career change, there is probably a good deal of overlap between the jobs you’re pursuing, even if they differ substantially. That means it’s likely you can re-use significant portions of content across your CVs.

Hence, when our software tester begins drafting her Quality Control CV, she’ll remove a whole bunch of details that are specific to jobs as a tester and replace the removed portions with information that’s more relevant to a Quality Control position. She’ll also change her career summary and objectives at the top of her CV.

As for our accountant, he doesn’t really need a completely new CV for roles in the not-profit sector. He just has to customise his standard CV and add a few things like volunteer experience she might have or other ways in which he’s gathered experience relevant in the non-profit sector. A well-written cover letter is equally important to make his case.

Note that you should keep track of the CVs you send out to each employer. It’s a show-stopper to apply for the job of your dreams with the wrong CV version or to show up for an interview prepared to talk about the information on a different CV. With a little organising, using separate CVs or customising versions of a single CV, you can broaden your job search and target different employers.