Why We Need to Analyze the Role Title

A lot of people in the resume field, notably in the US but also elsewhere globally, have been commenting on the mistake that many candidates make in not aligning - or at least not properly - their resume with the description of the job. Most recruiters and writers - and indeed many applicants, retrospectively - acknowledge that there is a failure to bear in mind quite the extent to which LinkedIn's processes have changed the way most applications are made. The days of simply adjusting the letter to suit each application are becoming dim and distant - not least because, as LinkedIn took hold, agencies rightly began to question themselves: how can the applicant appropriately tailor the letter if they don't know which company we'll put them forward to?

It can very often be the case that candidates will look at a role description and think "I can do that" because it mentions "marketing" or "accounting" or another key area in which they specialise.

Of course the client may appreciate that holding a degree or standard qualification in accounting is hardly the same as being a Finance Director or Auditor, yet what catches the eye is the "key word".

The industry concern seems to be - and here I agree - that candidates fail to dissect both the description as well as their own resume, and ensure a point-by-point alignment.

Applicants who fail to distinguish between aspirational and unrealistic should expect to fail, and usually do. For instance, if a role says the applicant must have a Certified Management Accountant qualification and they don't, yet have all the skills required, the applicant should not apply. The company has set a specific criterion and the applicant doesn't meet that. To apply will not only almost invariably result in failure but may also black-mark the candidate in the eyes of that company, potentially jeopardising future applications should the candidate ever apply to the same company again in the future.

Another failing is one of not researching the company. The applicant is often aware that the company is in financial services and operates in 13 countries but fails to make themselves aware that the company has also recently been acquired, perhaps by an organisation with a fundamentally different market approach.

The failure to make oneself aware of this will likely cause the recruiter to question: will this applicant fit with the new direction? Does this applicant understand the company's mission? Indeed, might this client work against the mission because he or she thinks the direction is different to what it is?

To counter this, people will very often ask writers to write 2 resumes - something which some in the market agree with, some do not. This is usually because clients will feel they have to use their content - who they are, what they do, what their certifications are and so on - but need to angle the CV for different markets or streams - consultancy vs. contract, public vs private sector and so on.

Why? The vast bulk of one person's 2 or 3 resume will be identical: we cannot change or undo education, role titles, dates, etc. So the only area realistically able to be changed is the profile / summary.

But the problem there is that many fail to recognise that recruiters - correctly - view long profiles as very adjective-driven: "I am a great person who is diligent, communicates well, a team-player.... Some recruiters feel that this tells them nothing; everyone thinks they're a great person. So the ideal profile is very short and thereby offers less scope for change.

The crux is therefore: know the role; appreciate precisely what the company requires; ask "can I actually do this or will I be out of my depth?". Only after that has been dealt with should the application be made.

The tailoring of CV to role should neither be, nor seen to be, an arduous process, no matter how important. The key factors are brief yet highly salient:

Customising the career objective to match the job title. Imagine it from the reader's point of view: you are here telling them something they already know - if you didn't have this objective, you wouldn't be applying for the job so it's a given. The idea is to show them that you understand your ideal job is directly linked to what service they provide / what their business model is - so that you are selling yourself not as "I want a good job" but "I know you specialise in X and Y and I can fit my skills into that: I will fit very well within your organisation"

Ensuring the key skills that sync job and CV are at the top of the CV. Look at the company's role requirements and matching the appropriate skills and experiences. Exclusion of a skill from your CV is not a cardinal sin, it's a means of tailoring. That said, if there is a belief that all skills need to go in, the question we need to ask is: are there now too many? There is a fine line between "the message" - yes he or she is skilled - and going overboard.

Author Bio:
Nigel Benson is a professional career sector specialist with over 12 years' experience writing executive level CVs and expertise in recruitment, job interviews and training.