This article is part of a series – ‘Professional Development made simple’. This series of articles will help you prepare for job applications, ace your interviews and build a network.

We hear these words every day: ‘Make sure your CV and Cover letter are relevant.’ Further, there is a ton of content on the internet about doing just that. Unfortunately, a lot of that content cannot be trusted when it comes to accurately represent the recruitment process. This article will walk you through the basics of designing a CV and Cover Letter in a way that works best for YOU!

Designing a CV tailored to the job description is important because it sets you apart from the general pool of applicants. A CV is the story of your reason for applying to this position and the reason you’re the best applicant.

Here are 3 concrete steps towards your best CV:

  • Find or design a CV Template: I’d first like to clarify some misconceptions about CV templates. Many websites and mentors advertise designer CVs with colorful designs and fancy texts. But such templates are not always appropriate. Each industry has its own kind of appropriate CV template. For example, a designer CV for a natural science research opportunity is a bad choice because the recruiters are not designers. They’re not looking for your ability to design CVs, they’re looking for relevant experience and projects put together in the simplest format.
    • Action Item: Search for the most appropriate  CV templates on google, download at least 5 templates you like and choose between them.
    • Note that simple templates are more generalizable while complex and designer CVs are less so.
  • Add suitable details to your CV: When you are writing the descriptions of your experiences in college, work, or other projects, always mention details pertinent to the position. You may have designed a novel AI algorithm but it might not be valuable for a banking opportunity. If you run out of details, you should mention those things, but always prioritize details directly linked to the opportunity for which you’re applying.
  • Maintain a CV Template for each kind of position to which you apply: It can be difficult to change your CV every time you apply to a new job. Here are some action items to optimize your time spent on CVs:
    • Group your target industries into clusters. For example, a data science and business major would have 3 clusters: Pure Data, Pure consulting and data-oriented consulting.
    • Maintain an appropriate CV and Cover Letter for each cluster: In the context of the example above, Maintain 3 CVs, one with data science-oriented details, one with consulting oriented details and one with mixed details. This will save you a lot of time when applying since you won’t have to start from scratch every time.

Final Action Items:

  • Now that you have a CV and Cover Letter for each industry(the number of groups shouldn’t exceed 3-4), group each job you’re applying to within appropriate clusters.
  • For each position, you still need to make minor changes in your CV and then edit your Cover Letter, but you’ll be saving a lot of time since you aren’t starting over again.

Caveats:

  • Having a tailored CV and Cover Letter increases your chances of being called for a job interview but it doesn’t always depend on your CV and Cover Letter:
    • You must make sure that you have a portfolio of code, art, design etc. that supports your application.
  • For industries with higher competition, you must work towards building relationships with employees that can refer you or support your application.

You may use external applications such as LaTex or Canva to design your CV but make sure that the template is appropriate for your specific industry. Investing time in your job applications is important and the quality of your application will determine the probability of securing the job.