What do employers look for in a CV?

Published on: 22 Sep 2016

Today’s recruitment market is more competitive than ever. FM recruitment firm Maxwell Stephens outlines what sets great CVs apart from the rest.

The job search is increasingly simple. Online search engines such as Google, social media engines such as LinkedIn and jobs boards such as Reed.co.uk and Monster have left candidates with an array of jobs to choose from like which they have never seen before. The CV stage is somewhat harder.

The CV is one of the most important documents of your career. It can make or break it. You should take the time to invest in it and perfect it, but to do that, it is important to know what ‘good’ looks like.

What is it that that recruiter and potential employer are really looking for from their next employee?

What makes a good CV?

Be clear, concise and proofread. Ensure that your document is relevant, easy on the eye and does not include mistakes.

The CV should include enough details to provide a taster of the candidate with tangible evidence, but without too much detail.

Avoid contradictions, arrogance and irrelevant statements.

Creative layouts? Consider your audience. If the role is creative, then embrace it. If the role is more formal consider a more traditional approach. Review the company’s website and tone and tailor your CV to match. A client is happy to receive a CV in any layout, as long as the content doesn’t suffer.

Ensure that your CV includes your contact details, career summary, references and qualifications.

Ensure that your CV is two pages long.

How do you highlight transferable skills in a CV?

If you are applying for a role in a different industry or sector, consider your audience and remove industry-specific jargon. Focus on tangibles such as time, quality and cost. These are understood by every reader, regardless of background.

Ask for feedback

Oft en, recruiters receive hundreds of CVs for a particular job and it may be that you only receive generic, automatically generated emails in response to your CV, both to acknowledge receipt and to confirm you have been unsuccessful. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and ask for feedback on your CV. Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer; be polite and constructive and you will be remembered for the next time. The key is to get into the recruiters’ ‘inner pool’ of candidates. The issue may be something specific, or it might be a coincidence; either way, constructive dialogue will help.

The ‘No’ pile:

We asked a number of employers what they find immediately off-putting in a CV:

1. Spelling mistakes, too small a font, unconcise conclusions.

2. Unfocused and wordy without referencing relevant achievements.

3. Too much irrelevant information on previous jobs.

4. Someone who has moved jobs too much or has unexplained employment gaps.

5. An unprofessional email address.

6. Too long.

7. A mismatch between experience of the candidate and the role and evidence of a candidate jumping from role to role every year or so without clear reasons.

8. Contradictions in the document.

9. Anything that is wordy or disorganised.

10. Spelling mistakes, arrogance and poor layout.

This information was extracted from The Perfect CV, by facilities management recruitment company Maxwell Stephens. The full guide can be downloaded at: www.perfectcvforfm.com