what do recruiters look for in your CV

What do recruiters look for in your CV?

Many CVs are like an old friend. You may have had the same one for a number of years; the look hasn’t changed much and it says the same thing as it did 10-20 years ago.

This is because most people don’t update or write their CV until it comes to looking for a new job. However, this can lead to an outdated document that’s no longer fit for purpose.

Reviewing your CV on a regular basis is extremely important and means you won’t have to do a complete re-write the next time you look for work. With this in mind, the below outlines five key points to help you write a CV.

1. Focus

A CV is a document that should focus on the position being applied for; advising the recruiter why the applicant is the right fit. Keep it relevant and focussed. It’s good practice to keep a general CV template on file, but then tweak and re-write segments per each application.

A big turn off for recruiters is receiving a generic CV that doesn’t show the experience, skill set, or qualifications for the position. Additionally, with recruiters spending around 9 seconds reading each CV, it’s really important to make a quick impact.

Focus the CV by looking closely at the job specification and requirements of the position you’re applying for. Then, amend your CV by using keywords to bring out your responsibilities and achievements that best match.

With recruiters making quick decisions on whether to move applicants to the next stage, they may be skim reading over a personal profile and each bullet point. Therefore, the more relevant these are to the position, the more chance of progression.

2. Clear presentation and formatting

It’s very important that a CV is written in a clear and concise manner, with simple and effective formatting. Recruiters don’t want to spend valuable time trying to find the information they’re looking for.

Keep it simple and in an order they expect to see. Open the document with a personal profile. Then, depending on your experience, list employment and education in reverse chronological order, using a simple bullet point style. Try not to over complicate the design or use unusual fonts.

This might sound like simple advice, but because CVs are often not updated and were designed years ago, they can look out of date. A clear and modern style shows attention to detail and professionalism.

3. Length

The length of CV is crucial. However, views differ within recruitment on this. A good rule of thumb is to keep a CV to two pages. If you want to be concise and to the point, one page may suffice. However, this depends on your experience.

If you’ve had a successful career over a number of years, you might find it hard to keep the document to two pages. You may even go over to three or even more pages.

Therefore it’s very important to remove or streamline relevant information relating to employment from over 10-20 years in the past. After all, recruiters might no longer see this as important or relevant for the position.

Quite frankly, recruiters won’t spend time reading complex three or four page documents when they have potentially 100s of other CVs to read.

4. Correct grammar and spelling

CVs that haven’t been proof read and checked for spelling mistakes or grammatical errors tend to be the first ones discarded by recruiters. A potentially great CV can be ruined due to lack of attention. It can demonstrate a lack professionalism and question the ability of the candidate.

Once you’ve completed your CV it’s a good idea to get someone else to read it for you as well. It’s the detail that can make a big difference on a CV, so the basics should never be overlooked.

5. Interview

What is the purpose of a CV? Everyone should ask themselves this before they begin to write one. The answer is a CV is a document designed to sell your skill set and experience, so you can progress to the interview stage.

With that one objective in mind, write the CV accordingly. You’ll be competing against other CVs; so sell your skill set and stand out.

Try not to over complicate the process and keep it simple. Back up your achievements with statistics to measure your success, but try not to bore the reader with too much information and jargon. You may know every detail of your current position, but a recruiter doesn’t need to.

Read the document from their perspective. They’ll be looking at the skills you can bring to their company. You can go into more detail at the interview if you get shortlisted; the CV however is not the document to do so.

If you keep this in mind, you’ll increase your chances of progressing to the next stage.

Understand what recruiters look for in your CV?

The key to writing a successful and winning CV is to keep it simple and concise. Write it as a recruiter would want to see it. Keep the above points in mind so the CV is fit for purpose and not outdated or inappropriate.

It’s time to get your CV from out of cold storage and give it a new look and redesign. It needs to be less like an old friend and more like a new and dynamic acquaintance!

About the author: Your CV Consultant was founded by Chris Pennington who has had a successful 15 year career in Financial Solutions Management and as a Personal Insolvency Specialist. Within this time he has built up a wealth of experience in CV Assessment, Recruitment, Interviewing Candidates, and Career Coaching.


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