How To Spot a Great CV
In your role as a recruiter, it is your job to spot a good CV amongst a sea of bland and mediocre applications. A good CV is one that can make itself stand out from the crowd and will compel you to single it out for further progress. Sometimes you can spot a CV that leaves you in no doubt about putting it into the interview pile, but sometimes you can get some that make you waver and be undecided about whether or not they quite make the grade.
Let’s take a closer look at how to recognise a good CV from an OK one, and help you make decisions about those you are undecided about more quickly.
When you are up against the clock and have a lot of job applicants to sort through, you really cannot afford to spend more than a few seconds scanning over a CV before making a snap decision. While it is important for you to make decisions quickly, it is just as important to let through the right applicants to save yourself even more time further down the line.
Things to look out for on your initial first scan of a CV should include the following points:
Look at the formatting
A CV is the first introduction that a job candidate gives a company. First impressions really do count in business, so a candidate should be aware of how important formatting their CV is. A lot of effort should be put into creating a CV that is appealing to the eye and as easy to read as possible. As a recruiter, the first thing you should look at is how well formatted the CV is and how clearly set out their information is.
It should be easy to spot the candidates name and contact details. This makes it quicker for you to reach them to invite them in for an interview. Their information should be segmented into clearly defined sections that are clearly headed so you don’t need to search around to find the details you are looking for.
Readability is key here for you to make a swift decision, so their chosen font should be one that is clear, crisp and easy to read. Using flourishing or artistic fonts may look pretty, but it can sometimes make things harder to read, especially when you are scanning the text for essential keywords that make the candidate suitable for consideration.
Check how many pages the CV covers. If it is any longer than three pages, this may ring alarm bells as it could mean the candidate has padded out their CV with a lot of waffle, unnecessary history and filler text.
If the CV passes this first test-scan, then you will feel happy enough to continue reading the finer detail within the content.
Where does the candidate live?
You must consider the location of the candidate and their proximity to your company if the role on offer requires them to commute to work every day. One of the most common reasons for a recruiter to turn down an applicant is because they may be located too far away from the job and the commuting time or method of travel may be problematic.
Unless the candidate is planning to move closer to the job in the near future anyway, you must consider the fact that a lot of commuting time each day can be pretty taxing on an employee. This can mean that there is a greater risk of that person accepting a new job offer further down the line that is closer to home and therefore has less commuting time.
Very many jobseekers are now submitting CVs and job applications to any role within their chosen field, no matter how far from home they may be. In the long run it can save you a lot of time and effort to limit your choice of candidates to those within a reasonable commuting area of your company.
Check their most recent employment history
Ideally you will be looking for a candidate that has current or very recent experience in a similar role. This is important because they will be bringing with them valuable and up to date skills from their previous employment that they can instantly apply with great effectiveness.
If a candidate is returning to a field of work after a long break or a career change, their skills may be a bit rusty or will need updating to meet with your requirements. Depending on whether or not you are offering some job training with this role, this is something to consider when you are looking for a candidate that can more seamlessly fit right in and hit the ground running in their new role.
Look at their most recent achievements to see if they are capable of taking on any extra responsibilities. Someone that stands out with good performance records and has been recognised for their efforts will mean you getting an employee with a good level of drive and determination. This can be a deciding factor about whether they make the interview group or the reject pile.
Look for gaps in employment
Many people have short gaps in their employment record for a whole host of different reasons. These could be related to periods of short-term sickness or recovery from accidents, redundancies, or periods where a person may have returned to education to gain higher level qualifications or received specialist training in a related discipline. Longer gaps in employment can often be explained in more mature candidates who have decided on a career change, for example, and have needed to re-train to gain different skills.
For anyone who has been following the same career path for a while, a gap of over six months in their employment record can often be a red flag. A good CV will not have any distinguishable career gaps that are not easily explained, such as for maternity leave for example.
Another red flag will be where you spot that a candidate has listed more than two or thee jobs within a year. This can show that either the candidate lacks the ability to stick to a job, or isn’t looking for a long-term job that will tie them down. Any investment put into an employee like this may be a wasted effort as they would most likely move on to something else after only a few months.
Suitable Educational Background
Most roles that a recruiter deals with will require a minimum level of education, but some roles will require more specialist qualifications and evidence of suitable academic achievements. The education section of the CV should be clearly laid out and any specialist educational achievements should be highlighted and easy to spot when scanning over the section.
Should the education section be missing for whatever reason, it can make you think that the candidate may not have enough relevant educational details to include, or they forgot to include it. This can show that they haven’t put a lot of care or attention to detail into creating their CV or took the time to proof read it or have it checked over by someone else to look for errors or omissions. This doesn’t bode well for the candidate, especially if the role on offer requires a lot of precision and detailed attention.
Obvious spelling errors
After scanning over potentially hundreds of CVs, it doesn’t take a good recruiter long to spot any glaringly obvious spelling mistakes. If spelling errors and poor sentence construction, a lack of enough detail or elaboration are obvious to you within the first seconds, then you can pretty much guarantee that the rest of the CV will not be up to scratch either. This is where most recruiters stop reading and swiftly move on to the next candidate in the queue.
Where you can find no spelling errors, then this will suggest that the candidate has a good eye for detail and is conscientious enough to have their CV thorough checked over before submission.
While a CV only offers a recruiter a small snapshot of a candidates potential, it is a good indicator that the person behind the CV could be someone that is a perfect fit for the role. It is job of the candidate to give the recruiter exactly what they are looking for in an applicant. The first test of their suitability is through their CV submission. Use these tips to narrow down your search and make the right interview decision.