30th August 2019
We’ve all written at least one CV in our working lives and if you’re anything like me, you might find it difficult to know what to write, how to word it or even how to make yourself sound desirable to potential employers.
The question is, do you know what employers actually look for in a CV? What about the employers out there who are reading this article? Do you know what you should be looking for when you scan through the multitude of curriculum vitaes that land on your desk following the publishing of a new job vacancy?
If the answer to any of the above questions is anything short of ‘yes’, read on for all you need to know about CVs, how to write them, how to review them and why it’s so important to do it all right.
Why it’s Important to get your CV Right
Your CV is the first (and in many cases, only) chance you will get to make a good impression on a potential employer and is the key to landing yourself an invitation to the first phase of interviews; so it goes without saying that taking your time and putting in the effort to ensure that the content and presentation is just so to boost your chances of landing a face-to-face interview.
What Makes a Good CV?
A good CV is concise, accurate and to the point. Anything longer than two pages will generally not be as successful since employers only have a limited amount of time to consider potential candidates.
As an employer reviewing CVs, the key is to look out for certain features in a candidate’s profile. These are signs that the applicant is credible as a professional and is capable of doing the job you are looking to fill.
CVs should have:
Concise text – As a hiring manager, you don’t have unlimited time to read through pages of employment history and candidate profiling. Applicants should minimise their CVs to no more than two pages of clear information that is both detailed and to the point.
Relevance to the job – CVs should be tailored to the job in question, focusing on how skills and experiences meet the job description and role criteria.
Focus on achievements – CVs should demonstrate the value a candidate can offer to the company by providing clear examples to support any claims made.
Highlight relevant skills – Candidates should have the technical ability and relevant experience for the position, along with universal skills such as communication, leadership and problem solving etc.
Personal statement – Strong candidates will include a short personal statement which ties together their abilities, achievements and career motivations in a way that validates their suitability for the position.
Suitable ordering – Chronological CVs are most suitable for most roles. The most relevant information should be included near the top of the document, with the candidates present or most recent job/experience being at the top.
Correct formatting – Candidates who are genuinely eager to impress will take care to ensure their CVs are error-free and correctly formatted. Watch out for the CVs that boast ‘I am very thorough with acute attention to detail’ which contain spelling or grammatical errors!
Availability of references – References do not have to be included on a CV, but applicants should make it clear that referees can be made available upon request.
What Makes a Bad CV?
When considering applications, review all CVs in the same way a recruiter would. This entails looking out for any warning signs that the candidate might not be a good hire as well as looking at their attributes.
Some red flags to be aware of when reviewing CVs include:
Lack of qualifications – Some candidates may focus on skills to cover up a lack of relevant qualifications; they may not have the technical competence for the job.
Focus on duties – You should expect candidates to explain how they added value to their current and previous roles rather than only focusing on their responsibilities. If a CV lacks this information, the candidate could be trying to cover up a lack of enthusiasm or accountability.
Employment gaps/Inaccurate dates – Candidates should include dates of employment for each role they have held. If there are any gaps, these need to be accounted for as they may turn out to be a ‘job hopper’.
Irrelevant information – Long sections of irrelevant information shows a lack of candidate awareness or suggests candidates have simply submitted a generic CV.
Contact detail mistakes – Personal details such as name, address and telephone number are the one thing that you should expect for the candidate to get right without question. If this information is inaccurate, this demonstrates a lack of care.
Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors – Applicants are expected to check their CVs over before submitting them to ensure that there are no errors. This can show a lack of care and attention to detail.
Inconsistent formatting – Another point that indicates a lack of care and professionalism. Candidates should take time to ensure that fonts, text sizes and paragraphs are well laid out and consistent throughout the CV.
Clarisse works as the Lead of our Customer Support Team to provide all of our customers with the very best care and guidance when using their HR software.