What employers and recruiters look for in a CV

Your CV needs to hook its reader within seconds of them picking it up if you’re to stand any chance of progressing to the job interview stage. Recruiters and hiring managers can receive hundreds of applications for a role, and sometimes only have the time to scan CVs before deciding whether to progress to a meeting.

Make an impact

In order to make an immediate impact, your CV will need to communicate the following information in the most succinct yet readable form.

Roles and responsibilities

You’ll need to tailor your CV to each particular job that you apply for, so it’s vital that the job titles and the responsibilities you include in your CV are relevant (if not a direct match) for the job on offer. Although you need to clarify your remit, it’s important that your CV offers more than just a list of your responsibilities.


Your CV will be scanned for the right kind of experience. Ensure your experience, whether six months in one role or four years in another, comes across as consistent and relevant to the job you’re applying for. Be clear where you added value, and your exact contribution to any high profile project.


Ensure you include all relevant skills gained and required of you in previous roles. Your skills will complement your experience and should ultimately illustrate your suitability for the job on offer.

Results and achievements

Hiring managers love to see results, so if you achieved above your target as a sales manager for example, make sure you state your targets as amounts or percentages, and demonstrate how you’ve overachieved.


Ensure you highlight relevant educational certificates, particularly when they’ve been listed as essential or desirable on the selection criteria.

Once you’ve got the details right, your CV will need to look, feel and read well if it’s going to grab the attention of a hiring manager or recruiter quickly and effectively. To do this, make sure you pay attention to the following details.

Easy to read

Ensure the layout of your CV is clear and consistent, containing only one font type (bold can be used to highlight) and using bullet points to outline skills, achievements, responsibilities etc. rather than rambling sentences.

No inconsistencies

Ensure sure your CV runs in clear, reverse chronological order and that there are no unexplained time lapses or inconsistencies regarding responsibilities you held or achievements you’ve included.

Relevant language

Ensure you include instantly recognisable keywords throughout your CV. Avoid excessive jargon and be mindful that the person reading it may not be a technical or industry expert, however they will know what to look out for.

Format and label

Ensure your CV is formatted in such a way that the recipient will be able to open it easily – no hiring manager wants to download software to view a CV. Also, make sure that when you save your CV you include your name i.e. Smith-John-CV in the saved title.

You may possess all the desired skills and experience to excel at a role, but if you don’t document them clearly in your CV; you may fall at the first hurdle in being considered for the job you’ve applied for.

With a well-crafted CV you are sure to impress; with an accompanying cover letter, you will really stand out. Read our article on why cover letters are important here.  

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