What do recruitment agencies look for in a CV at first glance?

Following the well-publicised news that you have around 6 seconds to catch the eye of a recruitment consultant, we thought we’d pass on some tips to help you maximise those 6 seconds, along with reassurance that once we’ve found a CV with the basics required, we certainly do look in more depth!

You want to sell yourself properly, so are you just to bullet point your experience and cut the detail and everything else out? Should you just keep to one page, when all you’ve ever been told is that a two-page CV is king? Well, no – what you’re trying to do is catch a recruiter’s attention with some focused information, so that we’ll read on (and we do…).

Here are a few pointers that may help.

1. If applying for a specific job, edit your CV with the job specification in mind. If the specification mentions a certain qualification or licence as a requirement, don’t leave that buried in the middle of a paragraph at the bottom of page two. Make sure that you have covered all of your skills that match the requirements and that they are easy to find - keep these keywords in the top half of page one.

2. Format your CV using clear, concise headings. You should make sure that dates and job-titles are clear and laid out in a logical, standardised way throughout the CV, and in reverse chronological order. It’s good to have some space rather than everything looking crammed in, so you may want to play around with different fonts and formats until you have something that works for you.

3. Once you have highlighted the relevant facts, you can, if it’s relevant, go into some brief detail about challenges you have faced, how you have overcome them and therefore how you could add value for prospective employers.

4. If you feel you want to include one, keep your personal profile short. A long, rambling profile doesn’t include the key information that a recruitment consultant needs to see. You can use it to highlight transferrable skills though.

5. Check, check and check again for grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. As an ex copy-editor, I know how easy it is to read what you think you’ve written, rather than what is actually on the page. It may be helpful to get someone else to read through and check for you.

6. It’s fine to add some personal details about your out-of-work life, it makes you real and memorable – just make sure that these are at the end of the CV along with school education; and can be used again to highlight transferrable skills.

7. It’s obvious, but don’t make stuff up to pad your CV out. Be confident in the skills you have - it needs to be completely honest, so you and the prospective employer fit properly.

So, it’s a simple as that? We know it takes a lot of work, especially if you’re tweaking a CV for each application, but it is worth it. Be assured that if we feel you’re not selling yourself in the right way, we do make suggestions for changes before we send onto prospective employers, so that you put yourself over correctly.

Good luck with your job search – we’re here to help.

24 July 2018