How to use a job spec to tailor your graduate CV

You might be worried your graduate CV looks a little thin and vague. If you’ve bulked it up with part-time jobs and extracurricular activities – perfect! But to really stand out from the crowd, try to tailor your CV to each role you apply for.

A simple way of doing this is picking skills and attributes out of the job spec and ensuring your CV reflects them. It will be obvious to the hiring manager if you just lift exact words and phrases out of the spec, so just try to mirror the tone and key points in your own words.

Take a look at the desirable skills section in the job description for a marketing assistant below.

Desirable skills

  • Business/commercial awareness.
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills; both written and oral.
  • An ability to work under pressure and manage own workload as and when required.
  • Flexibility and an ability to adapt to changes in workflow demands.
  • Drive, passion and tenacity.
  • A desire to further own knowledge.
  • IT literacy and experience of using design software - e.g. InDesign, Quark, Corel Draw - as well as Microsoft Office packages.
  • Analytical and numeracy skills.

Use this section to make a list of the keywords and phrases to use as your basis for writing sections like your past work experience, skills you’ve developed while at university and your cover letter.

For instance, instead of saying you’re driven, passionate and tenacious (as above), think how you can echo this sentiment without using these words. ‘My career ambition is to develop a keen insight into the industry and set myself apart as an expert in my field’. This demonstrates your drive by showing you think long-term, your passion to grow professionally and your tenacity because you want to be the best at what you do.

Take a look at the rest of our graduate career advice to find out how to format your CV and compose a personal statement that will grab the hiring manager’s attention.

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