The importance of targeting your job search

Got a one-size-fits-all cover letter? Evidence shows that sending out fewer, more tailored applications gets far better results.

In fact, recruiters and employers can tell if you’re playing the numbers game instead of focusing your job search, and are likely to scan-read and bin any applications they think haven’t been tailored to the specific job role and company you’re applying for.

“Interestingly the lower the number of job applications students have made, the more likely they are to have succeeded in securing invitations to interviews,” said a recent report by

It’s time to stop sending out hundreds of CVs to anyone with an inbox if you really want to get results.

Luckily, our guide can help you do just that.

Think about what you really want from your next job

Is there a particular company size or office culture you want to work in? Is commute time important to you? Or are salary and benefits your main criteria?

What advancement opportunities do you want? And how does your next company fit in with your future goals?

Once you’ve decided these criteria, use these to narrow your search. Anything that doesn’t fit the bill? Strike it off the send-list.

Do you meet the needs of the company? Prove it.

It’s okay to upsell yourself a little bit when you’re applying for jobs, but don’t apply for anything that is so wildly beyond your comfort zone that you’d be unhappy once you start working there.

Read the job description carefully, and sum up exactly how you meet those criteria in your covering letter.

More on cover letters

Tailoring your cover letter (and yes, every job application should have one), is essential if you want your CV to be even glanced at by recruiters or employers. Your cover letter should explain exactly why your skills and experience make you an excellent candidate for the job. The cover letter’s job is partly to make trawling through the hundreds of applications easier for them, and they’ll reward you by giving your CV proper consideration instead of tossing it aside.

Do your research

One way to prove your dedication to the role you’re applying for is to do thorough research on the company, and pepper your cover letter with references to this. Mention recent work the company has done that you admire, or how you would fit in with their working culture, inside and outside the office.

Doctor your CV

Your CV isn’t set in stone, and should be just as tailored as your cover letter. There may be requirements in the job description that you do have, but haven’t included in your CV. recommends: “Before you apply for a particular job; take the missing or hidden skills, and highlight them at the top of your CV.” Show that you know your stuff, and use technical industry terminology throughout your CV – but not too much that it looks obvious.

Language and keywords

Most recruiters only have time to scan your CV, so use the same keywords from the job description in your cover letter and CV to show them you’re qualified and have the relevant experience at a glance. It’s also a good idea to mirror the language that the job description uses, particularly adjectives.

Last but not least, use the right company name and job title! It’s the first thing they’ll be looking for, so if you don’t want to waste your own time, or theirs, double check everything.