August 6th, 2009
Get Your CV Noticed and Read – Recruiters spend 25 seconds reviewing a CV!


Believe it or not, recruiters spend 25 seconds reviewing or scanning a CV.

Curriculum Vitae


So what are the recruiter’s likes and dislikes in a CV and what is going to get your CV read by them for longer than 25 seconds?  Let’s have a count down from 2o:

20 – Burying or Not Including Important Information in the CV

Candidates often leave off very important and critical experience/information that is pertinent to the job they are seeking. Just as bad is to include this important info but burying it so deep into the CV the recruiter will not see it. Trust me; no recruiter has the time to play Sherlock Holmes to figure out a candidate’s background.

Jobseekers must be aware that recruiters receive literally hundreds of CVs a day and spend only about 25 seconds “skimming” through each CV. This is why it is imperative that if a job seeker possesses the requirements of the position, that they GRAB the recruiter’s attention IMMEDIATELY with these skills/experience. 

The best scenario is to customise each and every CV that is sent out and tailor it to the “bull’s eye” or “hot buttons” that will catch the employer/recruiters attention within 5-10 seconds.

19 – Gaps in Employment

Employers are probably going to be a bit more understanding than in the past regarding gaps of employment because of all of the redundancies, layoffs, cost cutting, reductions, etc. However, holes or gaps in dates in a CV will solicit questions from employers and recruiters alike, so be prepared to answer. Even if you took a sabbatical for personal reasons, it is a good idea to state such.

18 – CVs Written in the 1st or 3rd Person

A CV should not be written in the first person. No recruiter or future employer wants to read a CV full of “I did this, I implemented this, and I did that…” Furthermore, writing a CV in the first person often leads to it becoming too verbose.

Writing a CV in the third person was also slated a major “pet peeve” among many recruiters. A CV is simply a quick marketing piece about the job seeker’s background and how it matches the requirements of the position. It is not a biography for a book jacket cover. For example: “Mr. Jameson is an excellent project manager, who has managed many…”

17 – No Easy to Follow Summary

A CV has to GRAB the reader from the get go. If a CV does not convey a match within 10 seconds, they move to the next candidate. An effective summary section will help the recruiter identify if the job seeker is a viable candidate for the position quicker. This summary section can be customised to the position you are applying.

For candidates of a technical nature, it is imperative that a Technical Summary is also compiled. Make sure that these technical skills are clearly laid out and current. When creating this tech summary, be careful not to create a long list of “alphabet soup” no one will ever read or understand.

16 – Pictures, Graphics or URL Links

Unless you are a super model or are applying to a position such as an actor or TV personality that might require a “headshot,” there is absolutely no need to include your picture.

A candidate should be judged based on their skills, education and work history, not looks, race, sex, age, etc. In addition, sending a picture only increases the file size and download time of your CV.

Much the same goes for graphics and endless URL links. Furthermore, because of the fear of computer viruses, many recruiting departments are set up not to accept graphics, pictures, downloadable files, etc. Unless you are applying to be a web site designer, do not include URLs. Otherwise, your CV will just be deleted before it is even opened. In the case of URL links, they just clutter up your CV and no recruiter will ever spend time “clicking” on these links. 

15 – CVs not sent as a WORD Attachment

Unless specifically requested otherwise, your CV should be sent as a Word Attachment. Do not send your CV as a PDF, Mac file, etc.  A recruiter simply does do not have time to download and convert special files. In addition, do not send your CV in a ZIP file.

No CV should be 60 pages long period. Unless you are a graphic designer, a medical doctor, an architect or a multi-media developer, no recruiter will spend time going to your “homepage” to download your CV. Even if you are a graphic designer, you still need a Word attachment CV. So if you are an accountant, engineer, etc. do not try to be fancy, because no recruiter has the time or desire to call up homepage.

Another top reason for avoiding formats other than Word or a plain text file is that it becomes increasingly more difficult to download into many HR and recruiting systems. Often a recruiter will not have a job for you today. If they cannot enter your CV into their recruiting system, they will be unable to match your CV with any positions that do become available. This also goes for mailed and faxed CVs.

Unless specifically requested otherwise, recruiters are looking for easy to open Word Attachments. TIP … it is always a good idea to name your Word Attachment “Jackson, Catherine CV”. Recruiters have no time to “guess” the author of the attachment.

14 – Poor Font Choice

Keep your font simple and easy to read on a computer screen. Do not use italics or extremely difficult to read fonts like Edwardian Script. Font size is just as important as style. 8-point fonts are too small to read, even for a pair of glasses wearing Superman.

Microsoft seems to have settled on 10 point Arial as their default font in most of their applications. People are accustomed to reading such on their computer screen. For headings, recruiters shared that 12-point bolded is the best choice.

Recruiters told us that that second best choice is Times Roman as every newspaper and magazine is printing with such. Once again, people’s eyes are accustomed to reading text in this font. However, 10-point Times Roman, (unlike Arial), is too small for a computer screen. It is recommended if you choose Times Roman, use 11 or 12 point. 13 – Objectives or Meaningless Introductions

13 – Objectives or Meaningless Introductions

Instead of an Objective that can pigeonhole your focus too narrowly or an introduction that adds nothing to your background; use the top piece to really SELL yourself, by creating a HEADLINE.

Tell them who you are and what you do immediately. You can come up with one powerful sentence or phrase to “grab” your reader. Think of this like a headline to a major front-page news story. What is going to grab that reader to want to read further? Recruiter Tip: This headline can be customized to match the job description and “hot-buttons” of the employer or recruiter.

12 – Lying or Misleading Information

 We all know the temptation is there to beef up your background by stretching the truth here and there to land that job. BEWARE! It is becoming more commonplace for companies to do extensive background and reference checks on a candidate’s background prior to hiring. Also, companies are demanding that their vendor recruiters do more extensive background checks. Recruiters stated the most common misleading information being put on CVs are:

·         Inflated titles

·         Inaccurate dates to cover up job hopping or gaps of employment

·         1/2 finished degrees, inflated education or “purchased” degrees that do not mean anything

·         Inflated accomplishments

·         Out and out lies in regards to specific roles and duties

11 – Employer or Industry Information Not Included

It is suggested that your CV specifically state the type of industry, revenues, public or private in the body or beneath the specific company. This will help the reader determine if it’s a direct industry OR an ancillary industry.

Recruiter Tip: Another idea is to bullet-point in your summary the specific industry experience the recruiter is seeking.

10 – Personal Info Not Relevant to the Job

Not only is including personal info that is unrelated to the job a waste of space, but it can actually hurt you. Recruiters do not need to know your age, height, weight, martial status, sexual orientation, religious or political affiliations. They are trying to fill an open job requisition, not match you for a blind date.

9 – Candidates Who Apply to Positions that is way above their qualification

In order to gain experience in an area, you need to start out somewhere, and recruiters understand this. Recruiters do not have time to sort through hundreds of CVs that are in no way a match for the requirements they are trying to fill. If the job requirement is that you have MBA, do not apply if your have GCSE qualification. When someone submits an obviously unqualified CV, the person receiving it resents them wasting their time. It also delays the consideration of other applicants who ARE qualified.

Recruiter Tip: The easiest remedy is to provide a simple introductory statement ‘while my qualifications do not match your requirements, please accept the attached for your files in anticipation of future, suitable opportunities’”.

8 – Long Paragraphs

Recruiters want a résumé’s details to be short, concise and to the point. No recruiter has the time to read long paragraphs, which look like a narrative out of War and Peace.

Make sure you quickly get to the “meat” of what you are trying to communicate about yourself. Your CV should be easy for the reader to “scan” your text for your skills and accomplishments. Consider using the following formatting techniques: Use blunt, paraphrased bullet-points. Use appropriate amounts of “white space” to help guide your reader

7 – Long CVs

A CV should never be more than 2 pages. Situations that usually contribute to long CVs are; too many jobs; a career that is not focused, an inability to be concise, written communication problems, or something similar. All of which make for an ‘UNPLACEABLE’ candidate. No matter how tempting it is to go into detail about the first job you had 25 years ago, don’t! Instead, let your CV showcase your most recent accomplishments. Recruiters are only reviewing the last 5-10 years of your career, 15 at most.

If you are a recent graduate with limited professional work experience, your CV could be only one page. If you are from academia, but are seeking a position in industry, do not include every publication or journal paper you have ever presented.

Recruiter Tip: For employment beyond 10 years ago, create a “Previous Employment” section. You can quickly list your older assignments by simply including title, company and dates.

6 – Functional CVs

A very good way to NOT get your CV read is by sending them a “functional CV”.

Recruiter Tip: At the top of your CV, always include an easy to follow general/functional summary. Use bullet-points that can be easily customized to match what the employer is seeking. Hand your reader what they are looking for on a silver platter.

Find out what are the “hot buttons” of the employer and make every one hit a target. Immediately following your summary, provide your reader with an easy to follow chronological history of where you worked and when. It is here you need to detail your accomplishments.

5 – Poor Formatting

It is paramount that your CV is clean, clear and not full of major formatting errors. Most candidates are unaware that many formatting features will not view well on a computer screen, and more importantly, will not download properly into many recruiting systems or job boards.

Recruiter Tip: To see what your WORD document CV will look like as a text file, take it and paste it into NOTEPAD. You can then make any minor formatting changes as necessary within NOTEPAD.

3 – Dates Not Included or Inaccurate Dates

A CV that does not include dates sends up “red flags” about a candidate’s background and is immediately tossed out. The obvious assumption is that the candidate is trying to hide something. Furthermore, be honest about your dates of employment.

Recruiter Tip: When providing dates, work history should be in reverse chronological order. The general consensus among recruiters is to place the employer info, title and location to the left hand side of the screen. Your employment dates should be aligned to the right so that your reader can easily “skim” down the page. And if you have a proven track record of staying with a job for a while, absolutely make sure that your employment dates JUMP out at your reader. This is a real selling point about you as a candidate.

2 – Too Duty Oriented

The second most common complaint among recruiters was reading a CV that is “too duty oriented.” CVs need to describe more than just job duties. A good CV must also detail your accomplishments. Mention the business benefits and results attributable to your direct effort, involvement or leadership. Also, do not just rely on long lists of power words to describe work or accomplishments. Be sure to mention evidences of your accomplishments.

Recruiter Tip: “Do not separate your skills and accomplishments from each position. Someone should be able to look at it and know what you did at each job, and how long you were there. Make sure to provide specific examples of how the company benefited from your performance. Accomplishments should be quantified in pounds or percentages, for example, (Increased productivity of department). From what to what…1%, 10%, 70%?

1 – Spelling Errors, Typos, and Poor Grammar

In the world of technology and ‘Spell Check’, you would be amazed at how many CVs come through to potential employers with errors! Candidates need to remember that their CV represents them! If there are careless errors, it directly reflects on the candidate.

The general consensus among recruiters is that your CV will more often than not be your one opportunity to make a first impression. You need to make it a positive one!

Hope this article has been helpful and good luck with your CV.


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