Customising your CV or application form

It is vital to use your application form or CV to show that you are the ideal person for the job.

One way to do this is to 'tailor' or customise them by matching your skills and knowledge to the person specification. This might mean having a slightly different CV for each job you apply for.

What is a person specification?

This is a document that accompanies a job advertisement. It’s produced by the department which is hiring, together with their HR team. The person specification outlines the knowledge and skills that they are looking for in their ideal candidate. There are two sorts of criteria (requirements): those that are essential and others that are desirable. In some cases, the requirements will be personal qualities, and in others they reflect particular skills or knowledge that you’ll have to demonstrate if you get the job.

What if I don’t meet the requirements?

Unless you can demonstrate experience of every item in the essential list, then it’s probably not worth applying for the job. However, some job adverts provide the name of an informal contact, and if you believe that you are perfect for the job in every way apart from missing one or two requirements, contact this person and ask whether they’ll consider your application.

Proving you can do it

You can’t simply state that you meet the requirements. You have to give examples to demonstrate when you have done this previously. For instance, an essential requirement might be ‘good IT and keyboard skills’. You need to give specific examples of your experience as well as software packages you are familiar with.

Remember that you may have had a chance to demonstrate certain criteria (such as organisational skills) outside the workplace, in voluntary or community work or in your leisure activities.

Being short-listed

Increasingly, job applications are judged on a tick-box system. Because time is short, many panels start by removing any applicants who don’t meet all of the essential criteria. You need creative visual ways to prove you do match the requirements. Use bullet points, underlining or bold letters on your CV or application form to attract the reader’s eye to the relevant points.

Working through each of the criteria in turn may seem dull, but it helps you show that you are the right person for the job and makes sure that every box is ticked when your application is being judged.

Talk to your employment specialist for further advice and support.

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