There is nothing more frustrating to an employer than a CV which is quite obviously generic. Granted I’m not an employer. However, a perk of my job is interrogating employers. This isn’t a perk due to some twisted power trip. It’s a perk because it is a perfect excuse to have a pint. Drunken employers are truthful employers.
So it follows that I can’t actually reveal the name of this employer. Nevertheless, I can reveal the main focus of his slurred wisdom:
DO NOT WRITE GENERIC CVs!!
I don’t think said employer (let’s call him Tom) could have been more explicit. Employers know when a CV is generic. No two companies in the same field of work are the same. Each will have a different ethos. Each will have taken on different work. Each will want something different from their candidates.
This information is generally available from the website, but of course this is the first place other people will look and you’ll end up with the same information as the rest of the candidates. You want to look different. You want to look better. Try these:
a. Read a Decent Newspaper – Stay on Top of Current Affairs
‘Naomi, 24 from Brighton’ does not have insightful political views. She doesn’t even really like football. Don’t read a tabloid. Read a broadsheet. They will get you thinking, introduce you to new ways of approaching relevant issues and, above all, introduce you in a concise and sufficient manner to issues that are going to be highly relevant to your field of interest.
b. Use Research Tools Available to You at University
You will have ways of finding out what projects your targeted employer has been involved in.
Lawyers: Use Westlaw or Lexis to find out what high profile cases your targeted employer has been involved with. Find out which cases they have been successful in.
Business Students: Use EU documentation to find out about relatively large scale contracts. Registration of such contracts is compulsory if they meet certain financial thresholds.
Arts Students: Explore! Use journals. Use galleries. Use agency websites.
The list is not exhaustive. Students of all disciplines have unique research tools. Use them!
c. Look at the Job Description and Tell Them Why You Fit It
If they have told you what they want, why would you tell them you’re something different? It’s like asking for lager and receiving ale. It might look the same (if slightly off), but it tastes like Humber water. That’s not to say an employer is going to want to taste you. I would imagine that would be strictly against the rules. It means you must fit the description in substance. You must show that your substance is of a far greater quality than that of Pierre from Oxbridge. Pierre is relying on his university status. You’re relying on your substantive skills. It’s very, very doable.
So what’s the moral of the story? Tailor your CVs. Do not be generic. Go that one step further. Win that interview.