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What makes an “eye catching” CV? Looking at CV’s through a recruiters eyes

Written by: Ryan Curwen
As a recruiter, one of the most frustrating aspects of the role is poor quality CVs. When I say this, I do not mean that the person who has produced the CV are a bad candidate or unsuitable for the position. The majority of the time, a candidate can underestimate the importance of a CV with a thought process that their experience or qualifications alone will be enough to gain them an interview. Unfortunately, this is not always the case….

In the majority of cases, for any role, a client may have to look through a high number of CV’s, and that could just be the short list! As I’m sure you can imagine, this could become a tedious task. It is so easy for a manager to overlook a good candidate because their CV is lacklustre or has been half-heartedly produced.

Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of a hiring manager and take a moment to think about the process they have to go through in order to select suitable candidates for interviews. You’re sitting at your desk with a pile of CVs in front of you, what would you be looking for? What would impress you? What would make your task of reviewing a CV easier? And what would make a CV stand out from that huge pile on your desk? Here a few tips to consider in order to create an “eye catching” CV…

Full employment history complete with dates and covering all gaps in employment

This is crucial in making sure that a manager has a full picture of your career to present date. Make sure all previous positions have dates of employment (be specific with dates) and if you have any gaps in employment, make sure these are accounted for too. A manager will not be put off if you have a gap in employment, however they will expect to see an explanation, whether this be illness, a career break, raising a family, or job seeking. If any of the above is not provided, your CV loses credibility and your CV will easily be overlooked.

Make sure CV is “Tailor-made” for a specific position

If you are lucky enough to have a detailed job description or advert for a role, this is a perfect chance for you to really bring key skills that a manager is looking for to the forefront of your CV. Even if this isn’t the case, you need to make an assumption about what skills the manager will want to see. Ideally, you want an introductory paragraph at the beginning of your CV that highlights any key skills in which the hiring manager is looking for. This is key to grabbing their attention. The longer your CV holds the managers attention, the more you will stand out from other candidates.

Detail, Detail, Detail!! (But don’t waffle!)

When I first came in to recruitment, I was surprised at how many Candidates CVs lacked detail. For me, this is pivotal for a manger when it comes really pinpointing your skills and capabilities. Some CV’s I have seen literally only contain a list of jobs they have done, with no added detail of the role or responsibilities. This can come across as someone who is lazy and who lacks enthusiasm. If this is the case, I estimate your CV will last 3 seconds before going in to the “rejected” pile. For every role worked, there should be a paragraph (or bullet points if you prefer) highlighting key responsibilities of the role, skills utilized, systems used and reason for leaving. Anything you feel the manager needs to know about that specific role should be made clear in this section. Make sure information is sharp and concise, there is no need to “waffle”

Presentation, consistency and Format

Now I know that not everyone is “tech savvy”. However the importance of an aesthetically pleasing CV cannot be overlooked when it comes to standing out from a crowd. The key word here is consistency. Make sure that the format throughout your CV is consistent and well presented in a clear, easy to read layout. Font should be professional and nicely sized, with clear headings so the manager can easily find and take in any information on there. If this is not the case and your CV is inconsistent in its layout and format, this will come across to the manager as someone again who is lazy, lacks attention to detail and has little pride in how they present their work.

So there you have it! Follow these guidelines and you will be well on your way to having a CV that may just get you that interview for a dream job! Remember, a CV is a reflection of yourself and your attitude to work. First impressions start before you meet the manager in person.  
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