How to review a CV like a recruiter

Do you know what to look for in a CV? Do you know what other employers and recruiters look for in a CV? You can learn how to review a CV like a recruiter with these top tips.

Being able to tell the difference between a good CV and a great one can make all the difference when it comes to avoiding a hiring mistake. Being able to recruit candidates who have the right skills, experience, talent and personality that will make a real difference to your organisation is essential to hiring the right person. If you're not sure what to look for in a CV, you may be overlooking the best candidates - the individuals who can add the greatest value.

When considering potential employees CVs, you should be looking for insight into their technical capabilities and soft skills, but also their personality, ambitions and motivations. Some applicants will have great career records, but it doesn't necessarily mean they are right fit for your organisation or company culture. As such, you need to consider candidates' qualifications and experience, but also read between the lines a little to avoid hiring the wrong person.

What to look for in a CV

As an employer aiming to recruit a new employee, you should be looking for certain features in a candidate's CV. If you're reviewing a CV, these are signs that the applicant is credible as a professional, and capable of doing the job:

  • Concise text, albeit detailed - candidates know hiring managers have limited time to consider their application, so should keep their CV to a maximum of two pages.
  • Relevance to job - CVs should be tailored to the job in question, focusing on how skills and experiences meet the job description and role criteria.
  • Focus on achievements - the best CVs show the value candidates can offer, providing clear examples to support any claims made.
  • Hard and soft skills - candidates should have technical ability and relevant experience, along with soft skills such as communication, leadership, problem solving and foreign languages.
  • Personal statement - strong candidates know how to use short personal statements to their advantage; tying together their abilities, achievements and career motivations.
  • Suitable ordering - for most roles, chronological CVs are most suitable. The most relevant information should be included near the top of the document.
  • Correct formatting - candidates who are genuinely eager to impress will take care to ensure their CVs are error-free and correctly formatted.
  • Availability of references - candidates need not specify who their referees are, but they should make clear that contact details are available upon request.

How to review a CV: warning signs

When considering applications, you should aim to review CVs like a recruiter would. This means looking for candidate attributes, but also any warning signs that the individual may be a good hire. Here are some of the CV red flags to be aware of:

  • Lack of qualifications - some candidates may focus on skills to cover up a lack of relevant qualifications; they may not have the technical competence for the job.
  • Focus on duties - candidates should always explain how they have added value in the roles they have held, not just what they were responsible for doing.
  • Employment gaps/Inaccurate dates - candidates should include dates of employment for each role they have held. If there are any gaps, these need to be accounted for as they may turn out to be a 'job hopper'.
  • Irrelevant information - including long sections of irrelevant information shows a lack of candidate awareness, or suggests candidates have simply submitted a generic CV.
  • Contact detail mistakes - if a candidate misses off a digit from their phone number or includes the wrong email address, this demonstrates a lack of care.
  • Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors - these show a lack of attention to detail; candidates should always check their CV before submitting.
  • Inconsistent formatting - candidates should ensure all fonts, text sizes and paragraphs are the same throughout the CV.

Choosing the right person to hire

For many vacancies, employers receive large numbers of applications. Faced with time pressures, this makes it difficult to read through each and every CV in detail. This, in turn, increases the risk that strong candidates can slip through the net. If some of the strongest candidates are not invited to interview, organisations may not end up hiring the best person for the job.

Using a recruitment agency can help overcome this problem, with years of experience they are able to help review potential candidate CVs. This experience allows a recruitment agency to quickly compile a shortlist of suitable candidates, saving time for businesses in the recruitment process as well as finding hidden talent that may have slipped through the net otherwise.

Learn from Robert Half’s expert recruiters so you can build a talented team of employees or advance your career. Operating in over 300 locations worldwide, including our recruitment agencies in London Robert Half can provide you with assistance where and when you need it.