How Recruiters Read Your CV

By Andrew Fennell

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If you want to land job interviews, then your CV will need to grab recruiters’ attention and impress them. So it pays to know exactly how they assess a CV and what they look for in a strong candidate.

But what do recruiters want to see in a CV? And how do they want the information presented?

This latest guide from StandOut CV gives an insight into a recruiter’s working day and shows how you can adapt your CV to meet their needs.

Firstly, recruiters need to open your CV

Your CV will not win any interviews if it sits in a recruiter’s inbox unopened.

The first challenge you face is persuading recruiters to open your CV in the first place, so write a strong cover note with every job application you make.

Recruiters are pushed for time, so keep it short and sharp to hold their attention; around 2-3 sentences should be enough.

Address the recruiter by name and explain how your skills match the job requirements to make an instant impact.


Recruiters scan for relevant content

With recruiters receiving an average of 118 CVs per job advert, they can’t read every CV from top to bottom.

They spend 6-10 seconds on an initial scan of your CV and decide whether it is worth reading in full.

Essentially they will be checking to see if you have the basic requirements for the role before they invest any more time into your CV.

For your CV to pass this preliminary test, ensure that you are making it easy for recruiters to see that you are a strong candidate for the role:

Ensure that your CV is easy to read, looks professional and that key information is highlighted.


Recruiters focus on your current role

Your current or most recent role is the biggest indicator of your current abilities; so recruiters will spend a lot of time studying this section of your CV.

They will look for things like:

  • Your position within the organisation
  • Overall goal of your role
  • People you interact with
  • Tools/software used
  • Work produced
  • Targets and achievements

Include plenty of information on your current role to give recruiters a sufficient amount of your experience and knowledge.


Recruiters like numbers

Facts and figures give recruiters a scalable indication of the value you can bring to an organisation.  Adding some quantifiable achievements to your CV is a great way to prove your value.

Some good examples of adding numbers to your CV include:

  • Generated 150 unit sales in 3 months
  • Resolved 95% of complaints in 24 hours
  • Cut department spending by 15%


Recruiters scare easily

Recruiters build reputations with hiring managers based on the strength of the candidates they recommend for roles.

If a recruiter sends a bad candidate forward for a position, their relationships can be seriously damaged.

For this reason, recruiters are very cautious about which candidates they share with hiring managers; and things like unexplained gaps in employment or spelling errors can be huge red flags for them.

How a recruiter reads your CV


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