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Tailoring your application

Copyright 2007. Tara West 


Regardless of whether you have written the resume yourself or it was written for you, it is extremely important that you review your resume and cover letter for each application.  

Qualified candidates are often overlooked for a position simply because they didn't adequately display / demonstrate their qualities in the application itself.  

Never assume that the hiring manager will understand what you do in your current job or what you performed in previous roles - and more importantly, don't expect them to interpret or decipher the information you have in the context of the role being applied for.

A prime example is provided below:

Graduate Accountant:

Let us assume you are applying for graduate accountant roles, in addition to accounts payable / receivable type of positions.  You will need to tailor your application to suit both vacancies.

For instance, if you were applying for an accounts role and your resume was tailored for a graduate accountant role you would either: a) appear overqualified; or b) be demonstrating a passion for graduate accounting roles - to a hiring manager this means you are not passionate about an accounts role and you will only stick around until you find something better. 

If you take into consideration the correct formatting of a resume, this is what will differ:

  • Your profile
  • Your tertiary knowledge section (i.e. your projects, finance knowledge, etc) - this section won't be needed at all
  • Your employment history section


What you should be looking at for each application, irrespective of your profession:

  • Cover Letter: this can be the most vital part of your application as the hiring manager wants to determine your skills and knowledge - only obtained by specifically addressing their requirements as advertised in the job advert.  If you have inserted some generic information in your letter that briefly touches on your employment history, communication skills and teamwork, then this letter won't work for you.  If the job advert has specific attributes and skills that are needed for the position then you need to be addressing it in the cover letter.  Better still, if you have some gutsy achievements as it relates to the skill / attribute in question, then include it.


  • Profile: it should contain a similar title to the vacancy.


  • Attributes: these should be framed around the requirements - if you're not addressing something then include it.


  • Job titles.


  • Key accountabilities (current role): if, for instance, you're applying for a marketing role and your current role incorporates both sales and marketing and you have a list that encompasses this, then review it and move the relevant tasks to the top of the list. You may also want to consider removing some altogether which are not relevant, thus putting a focus on what really matters.


  • Key achievements: if, for instance, you are applying for a chief financial officer role and your current role incorporates both finance and operations management, review your achievements and insert the finance-related achievements at the top of the list.  Never remove achievements which may not relate to the role; but you may wish to consider condensing them somewhat.  Achievements are always great to have as they demonstrate a proactive attitude and the ability to obtain outcomes for your employer.


  • Prior employment history: you may have to expand on a previous position which relates really well to the one you are applying for.


  • Voluntary involvement.


  • Personal achievements.


  • Referees.


If you're not gaining enough interviews, objectively look at your approach and start tailoring each and every application - it WILL result in more interviews!  Job hunting shouldn't be rushed - there isn't a quick method and time and effort on your behalf will pay off in the end! :-)


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Tara West is co-author in Living an Abundant Life. Other authors include inspirations such as Jack Canfield and Brian Tracy.
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