Top Ten CV Tips - A Recruiter's Perspective

Monday, July 13, 2020

So what do we look for in a CV, aside for the obvious of course (experience)?  From someone who has worked in the industry for over 15 years, both on agency side and on the employer side (recruiting graduate to senior level), there are approximately ten immediate things I look for. 

As Recruiters, we’re generally busy and if a CV is too hard to navigate through at a glance, it’s likely to be put aside to read later on, and by then, we may have found our ideal candidate. Make sure your CV is one of the first to be read.  With so many people looking for employment, you need to stand out. It’s important you don’t miss the key considerations – if you do, you’ll likely be ruled out without your full CV even being read.     

My top ten tips, are simple and obvious, but effective... you don’t need work experience to get this part right. 

  1. Layout – visually clean, easy to navigate/read through, too many graphics will detract me from reading about you, and no photos. It takes less than 10 seconds to decide if we’ll read it before anyone else’s.
  2. Attention to detail and consistency – not just spelling/grammar, but also font size (3 x max variations - no need for shouty capitals), spacing, consistent full stops etc. And please, please, please make sure you check for errors, better still get someone to check it for you. There’s nothing worse than reading ‘I have excellent attention to detail’. Trust me, this will mark the most experienced of applicants down.
  3. Pages – ideally one (for grads, or those with less years to speak of), but two is fine if you have relevant info to fill it.
  4. Don’t write in the 3rd person – you have written your CV so don’t make it look like someone else has done it for you.
  5. Structure – Depending on how creative your CV template is, the ideal order is contact info, profile, skills, experience, education, interests. However, if you’ve just graduated, your education will be straight after your profile.
  6. Profile – Your elevation pitch! Make us want to find out more! Five lines approximately for this part, well crafted and worth reading.Your profile can make or break your CV. This is your opportunity to grab our attention and make us want to find out more. Make it count. And tailor for each application – make us feel like our opportunity is the only one you’re applying for. Include a snippet about; education, experience, expertise/transferable skills, values and goals. Align it with the requirements of the job and company values.
  7. Skills – a great place to highlight your transferable skills – bullet these – five lines on average…any more and it’s too much to read.
  8. Experience – a brief description of each role, followed by bullet points of the different responsibilities – it’s easy to read and if the points are relevant to the role, it will make us want to find out more about the detail around it (by way of an interview).
  9. Interests – I really enjoy reading this part. It breaks the ice a little. But keep it brief. Your interests, achievements, voluntary work, etc. Stick with passions, not political interests – give us a chance to connect with you as a person.
  10. Honesty – don’t embellish the truth, be true to who you are, and make sure it aligns with your LinkedIn profile – we’ll be reading that as well.

There are countless guides out there on CV/Resume writing, take advantage of them.  And, good luck in your search!

About the Author: Sarah Williams

Writing in a personal capacity, Sarah has experience of working in the industry for over 15 years, both on agency side and on the employer side (recruiting graduate to senior level).