Talent Acquisition

10 Things Every Recruiter Should Check for on a Candidate’s CV

As a recruiter you want to give the candidate you are representing the best opportunity to stand out from the crowd and their CV is the first opportunity they have to sell themselves. Ensure that the CV which you send to your client is clear, concise and highlights the relevant experience effectively. Follow these easy steps to ensure that they have that ‘punch on the nose’ CV which really gets them noticed!

1. Candidate frontsheet

I would recommend having a unified candidate front sheet template. The kind of things this should include on it are: ‘name’, ‘location’, ‘relevant experience’, ‘notice period’, ‘education’ and ‘other relevant notes’. Most importantly, ensure that you talk to your candidate about the role and ask them what similar things they have done. From this you will be able to tailor the ‘relevant experience’ section so it is specific to their application (there’s nothing worse than a regurgitation of a candidate’s key skills, it will only make you look sloppy)!

2. Personal statement

A strong CV should include a short (ideally between 30 – 60 words) personal statement which they have clearly crafted themselves. Make sure that they have outlined their abilities, achievements and career motivations and that they haven’t just used a standard template which includes a bunch of soft skills (everyone can claim to have these, get them to concentrate on what is truly makes them unique).

3. Always start the work history with the most recent role

The most recent role is going to be the most interesting experience for any potential employer (it’s unlikely that the candidate’s part time work experience around their college studies 10 years ago is going to be of any interest) so make sure that this part of the candidate’s CV is the most in depth. Candidates should always explain how they have added value in the roles they have held, not just what they were responsible for doing and list personal achievements. Make sure that they describe the feature, the advantage of it and link back the benefit. For example (I used C++ instead of C to code, which supported the design for object-oriented programming and meant we could develop the product faster, and also made the program run faster).

4. Keywords

Does the person have the specific experience for the role the client is hiring for? By this, I don’t mean that they have included every “keyword” on their resume, be vigilant to ensure that the important keywords contained in the main body of their experience are represented in the work history. Failure to address this might look like the candidate has just copied and pasted the key words in the job specification but has no real experience in this area.

5. Gaps

Make certain that if there are any gaps in a candidate’s experience that there’s a sufficient explanation. It’s the absence of an explanation that sometimes will make an employer wonder and jump to negative conclusions. Make sure that the candidate also includes any side projects/courses which they undertook during this gap of employment. It will help to prove that they are proactive and weren’t just sat at home twiddling their thumbs! It can also be a great way to show that they have a genuine interest in the industry if they have been working on industry related projects.

6. Too much info 

Make sure you speak to your candidate about any potential TMI (too much information) moments. Many employers try to avoid any type of discrimination, so often seeing that stuff on a resume can be uncomfortable and by “that stuff”, I mean, I’m glad a candidate is happily married with two children (really I am) but it doesn’t pertain to their ability to do the job! Please also make sure they take their photo off their resume. If the employer wants to see what the candidate looks like they can just stalk them on LinkedIn!

7. Online footprint

Whilst this isn’t essential, if a candidate has an online footprint, make sure that they’ve included it in their resume, (especially if it’s relevant to their industry). This includes personal domains, Quora profiles, Twitter handles, GitHub contributions, Dribble accounts, or anything a candidate has chosen to list. A good, relevant side project or creative account can help a candidate stand out and it shows that they have passion for the industry.

8. Location and logistics

Include the travel time for the candidate here (especially if they are local), it shows that both you and the candidate have considered this (there’s also nothing worse than a candidate calling the day before their due to attend an interview and pulling out because they didn’t realise it was a tricky route). If the candidate lives further away and is looking at relocating make sure that you specify this and any further relevant details (for example, if the candidate is relocating to the area because of their partner or family ties), this will make more sense for the employer.

9. Grammar

Bad spelling and grammar is sloppy and easy to avoid, it’s a recruiter’s job to check for these mistakes and to ensure that they have clearly presented their experience. Make sure that the candidate has picked a voice, a tense, and that they’ve stuck with it. I suggest third person and past tense. If I were you, I’d make sure they eliminate pronouns (e.g. My, I, She, He) from their resume altogether.

10. Length

There’s nothing worse than seeing a CV which, at first glance looks like it could be interesting, turning the page and realising that they’ve sent you their full autobiography, it means that you and no doubt the employer will completely lose emphasis (and concentration) when it comes to reading relevant experience. Any more than 3 pages and I usually completely disengage with the content. A common mistake is that candidate’ will use the same CV and just add their newer roles at the top, make sure you speak to them about condensing job roles further back in their career.

Final thoughts

Most of these points are a matter of common sense but they require being vigilant every time you send out a candidate’s CV. Sometimes (and I’m sure we’ve all been there), recruiters are so keen to get the CV out the door that proper consideration isn’t given over making them stand out, an extra half an hour speaking to and “consulting” (yes recruitment CONSULTANTS) will really make the difference. You will look professional to your client and also gain credibility with a candidate who believes you are genuinely trying your best to give them the best opportunity at getting the job!

By Naomi Baggs

Account Executive at Link Humans, download our 12 Essentials of Employer Branding eBook now.