Posted on 26th January 2016 by Jon Terry

What do recruiters look for in a CV?

What do recruiters look for in a CV?

When it comes to writing a CV there are a number of ‘best practices’ that are generally followed. Some consider certain elements more important and that they should therefore be given more focus while others think that some elements should be left out altogether. But which elements are important to recruiters and which practices should we avoid?

A recent study from a fellow recruitment consultancy1 reveals what recruiters are really looking for in a CV, in many cases it's not what the public might expect.

What sort of things does the average candidate consider important?

Most applicants are taught that detailing all of their qualifications, and having all the required qualifications, are up there on the scale of importance. In actual fact, although it is important to include relevant qualifications, detailing the ins-and- outs of every module isn’t necessary. It’s also important to remember that job descriptions describe the ideal candidate, if you don’t have all the required qualifications don’t worry - the same goes for experience.

Including a personal statement and listing personal interests is another practice that is regarded highly by the public, but not necessarily by recruiters. While adding a personal touch to your CV is a nice thing to do, listing your hobbies and interests aren’t going to seal the deal. In-fact, I read recently that one in three recruiters consider the phrase “I enjoy socialising with friends” as their biggest CV pet hate - so be careful what you include.

Other things that are perhaps not as important as everyone thinks include having volunteer experience or including soft skills. Unless they are highly relevant to the position that you are applying for they are unlikely to help secure the role.

The biggest misconception is that a CV should be kept to under two pages. OK, recruiters don't necessarily have oodles of time to read a fifty page autobiography, but, if you have an abundance of relevant information to share, condensing into two pages could be counterproductive.

So what do recruiters consider important?

Top of the list is detailing your achievements. This helps recruiters to see how you contributed to a role and where you were able to add value and, in-turn, indicates to the recruiter how you can do the same in the position that they are offering.

Listing all job titles in the same company, despite public opinion, is also important. Why is this so important? Put simply, listing your all the job titles within a company gives a good indication of how your career advanced during your time with that organisation, showing the recruiter that you are capable and willing to develop your career.

Grammatical errors are also one of recruiters’ biggest bugbears. Having grammatical errors on your CV is sloppy and unprofessional, make sure that your CV has no grammar or spelling mistakes, otherwise it is likely that your CV will end up in the bin. On the same note, writing in a professional tone is also advisable. If you're applying for a professional role, it is important to demonstrate your professionalism.

Using job ad keywords and industry terms can also help you land the position you are applying for. Using industry terms demonstrates that you are knowledgeable about the industry, while using job advert keywords shows that you have taken the time to adjust your CV to suit the role you are applying for and that you haven’t just taken the ‘throw enough mud at the wall’ approach.

Wright Solutions have over fourteen years experience in the HR sector and work personally to provide high-calibre candidates for specialist roles in human resources and learning and development.

Please feel free to call us on 0121 222 5599 for an informal discussion or send us an email to

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Jon Terry

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