An old parchment written in an unknown language with person holding a magnifier glass over it

How to decode any job description in order to write a great CV for tech jobs

If you have a great CV the job is done, right? You can apply with the same CV to 50 different jobs…and probably that won't yield any great results. It’s not enough to have an excellently written CV. You NEED to have a customized CV for the role and company you are applying for. That NEED is with capital shouty letters.  

Apply due diligence in researching the company you are applying to. Most organizations list on their website their mission and values. In the age of the internet, it will take an 1 min investment and it will pay dividends.

Here is an example from their website:

Customer Obsession - Leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers. 

In your CV, when describing your skills, include a bullet point which speaks of customer obsession. Use the EXACT same language. Don’t get creative trying to find another way to refer to it. By speaking the same language as the company, and all the people involved in the hiring process, you are more likely to get their attention. Why? You are explaining skills in a way that is everyday jargon to the people reading your CV. Instead of them reading about your competencies, figuring out if they match, you will be presenting them in a vocabulary they don’t have to decode. Less will be lost in translation. 

Once you have a grasp of the company, you need to decode the job description. You apply the same philosophy. Staying with the Amazon example, I ran a random query for a marketing role on the career portal. Here is an abbreviated job description.  

Marketing Analyst 

This is an opportunity to join a mission-driven marketing operations team that is dedicated to improving outcomes from processes and programs that educate and convert today's prospects into AWS public sector customers who drive tomorrow's scientific breakthroughs, citizen services, and education innovations. 

Basic qualifications

  • Bachelor's Degree in business, marketing, communications or related subjects. 
  • 5+ years experience in an analyst role at an enterprise-level B2B technology products or services company. 
  • 3+ years experience in datasets across Salesforce CRM/lead gen, Marketo/digital marketing, budget/finance, and work management capacity planning. 
  • In-depth reporting knowledge of Salesforce objects (lead/contact, opportunity, account, etc.) 
  • Managing and building a portfolio of Tableau reports and dashboards record for an enterprise-level marketing organization at a technology company. 
  • Advanced experience with SQL to pull data queries. 

Preferred qualifications

  • MBA with concentration in Business or Finance 
  • Project management experience and experience working on an agile team 
  • Experience with marketing attribution models (full circle insights, bizible, Marketo Revenue Analytics) and Account-Based Marketing (ABM). 
  • Familiarity with the Sirius Decisions Demand Waterfall 
  • Familiarity with Public Sector and knowledge of government acquisitions along with applicable mandates and polices that govern the process 
  • Strong verbal and written communications skills are a must, as well as the ability to work effectively across internal and external organizations. 
  • Experience with AWS tools like Redshift 
  • Familiarity with R or Python a plus 
  • Ability to conduct sophisticated and creative analysis of complex data and translate the results into actionable deliverables, messages, and presentations 
  • Motivated self-starter who is proactive and action-oriented 
  • Able to operate successfully in a lean, fast-paced organization that can scale quickly 
  • Effective presentation of information and strong communication skills for responding to managers and coordinating with team members. 
  • Willingness to travel and ability to work independently and autonomously. 

When reading any job description, you have to be on the look-out key words. You should spot competencies that are mentioned more than once, hard skills and nice to have criteria. You will use IDENTICAL wording to refer to competencies (applied to both hard and soft skills) in your CV, just like you have done with the leadership principles.  

Going paragraph by paragraph I would capture all the competencies listed. Some you will notice you are writing down more than once. Those are especially important. There is a clear reason for calling out “project management” 5 times and “negotiations” about 3. Don’t miss out on reflecting those in your CV. 

If the process seems like it’s stating the obvious, well it is. However, by stating the obvious and decoding the job description you are painting a very clear picture of the skills needed, and the profile the company is looking for. In return, you should now tweak your CV to make it very clear which of those skills you match. 

Imagining I actually have those skills, based on the job description above, if I were to apply, I would list the following soft skills as a focus in my CV: 

  • “Stakeholder management” – including examples of diverse high level stakeholders across multiple markets. 
  • “Communications skills” (mentioned aprox 3 times) - situations where this competency was used to showcase data, driving an end to end view, and enabling a call to action. 
  • “Data analysis and being driven”, “project management and improvement”, “improving outcomes from processes and programs “– the job description is heavily focused on the word “improvement”. Use situations where through self-leadership you drove improvements.  
  • Self starter, independent, autonomous, working in fast paced environments – I would provide data on a fast turnover project, with high stakes, where through self-leadership I lead to added value.  

Don’t overdo it, but don’t shy about shamelessly deploying bold / italic tactics to make it abundantly clear your CV matches the job description for a few key words. Recruiters, hiring managers, interviewers will not spend endless hours dissecting your profile. When you can remove doubt, add the skills you have in way they refer to and understand. It will help your chances of making it pass the CV review stage. It also shows interest, you put in time and energy to research, you already use the same terminology as the company you are applying to. In all fields, experts have a specific vocabulary. You bring and build confidence in your profile by using the same terminology.

Have as many CVs as jobs you are applying and use the same words / terminology. 

While the core of it will stay the same, you must redact it to match the company and the job description. E.g. if the role calls out for “customer obsession”, and you have written “customer focus”, redact and use the same words.  

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