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What recruiters and employers look for when they read your CV


A typical recruiter spends approximately 30 seconds scanning a CV before deciding whether to call a candidate. With this information it’s obvious that your CV needs to grab the attention of a recruiter or employer if you are to stand a chance of being called for interview.

To understand how to do this, place yourself in the shoes of a recruiter. This person will receive dozens of CV’s, they will have neither the time nor the patience to try and find the relevance of your application amongst irrelevant detail and grammatical errors.

The key therefore to an impactful CV is relevance, brevity, and clarity.

Relevance and brevity

You need to tailor your CV to each specific role you apply for. Roles, responsibilities, experience, skills, results and achievements need to be relevant to the job that you’re applying for. In your most recent role, it will be advantageous to demonstrate you have been utilising and developing the very skills that will now be advantageous to your new employer.

In respect to your results and achievements it will be beneficial to make sure these are clearly presented and reinforce your suitability for the role.

In all likelihood you may struggle, in first draft, to contain your CV within two pages. This is when you need to cast a critical eye over what you’ve written and delete anything that isn’t advantageous and directly relevant to the role you are applying for.


Hard to read, hard to follow and seemingly irrelevant CVs will be discounted within 30 seconds. So pay attention to the following details:

  • Easy to read – make sure the layout of your CV is clear and consistent, containing only one font type and using bullet point to outline skills achievements and responsibilities.
  • Avoid the recruiter having to ”work out” your CV. It must run in the correct order, which is in reverse chronological order with any employment gaps explained.
  • Find keywords and use them throughout your CV to lead the recruiter to the opinion that your skills are relevant.


The good news is that a well laid out CV which by definition is relevant, brief and clear will put you ahead of up to 90% of the population.