Idea in short

You might have heard before that one of the best ways to grab a recruiter’s attention is by tailoring your resume to each position you apply to. To many people, this is an intimidating idea — after you spend so much time creating a great first resume, the thought of repeating the process for each new job you apply to sounds like a tremendous time-suck.

An experienced software tester has been unemployed for months and wants to broaden her search. She includes such skills as Quality Control given her background in software testing for defects. 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?

Customizing Vs. Separate CVs

Let’s first clarify what we mean by separate CVs. Basically, this means a CV distinct in terms of sizable portion of content for each job. This does not imply customizing your CV to a specific job advertisement. Customizing is when you use a single CV / Resume for every job, except that you make minor adjustments to the content to align with the unique job requirements. Whether you are creating separate CVs or merely customizing a single CV, you will end up with more than one version of your CV.

Unique CVs

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. The good news is that 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.

Customized CVs

As for our accountant, he doesn’t really need a completely new CV for roles in the not-profit sector. He just has to customize 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 organizing, using separate CVs or customizing versions of a single CV, you can broaden your job search and target different employers.

Multiple formats

All job-seekers need at least two formats:

  1. The traditional print format. and
  2. A text format

You will need the traditional print format for job interviews, career fairs, networking, and anytime a real person actually sees your CV. However, as the job search process is increasingly becoming electronic, you need your CV in text format as well.

Summary

Tailoring your resume doesn’t mean having to recreate the wheel each time. No matter what job you’re applying to, there are a number of things you can keep consistent while still customizing others. Always remember that your resume is your key marketing tool for gaining that all important interview, and if that means you need to have eight different resumes while job-hunting, then go for it. Your job is to follow each employer's guidelines in how the company wants a resume submitted, thus increasing your chances for being contacted for an interview.