The 4 Things Employers Look Out for on a Strong CV

Imagine you’re a recruiter. There’s one vacancy, dozens of applicants and only a few minutes before your next meeting. How do you go about choosing a candidate? Most will start by asking a number of key questions.

For example, who is applying? They need to know as much about you as quickly as possible, including your skills, experience and qualifications. That’ll bring down the number of applicants to a select few who have presented themselves as ideal candidates, be it for the unique way their CV is written or their extensive list of achievements.

They might end by asking, why am I still reading this? Even the most dedicated recruiters don’t have the time or energy to thoroughly peruse every paragraph. They skim, which is why you need to stick to what matters most.

But what exactly is important? What do employers look for in today’s ultra-competitive job market? If you want to make an impact, include the following 4 things on your CV.

Essential Information

Let’s start with the basics. At the top of the first page should be your name and contact details, as well as a professional title if applicable. You needn’t waste any space by pointing out that the document is a CV – your name can serve as the title. A phone number and email address are sufficient as contact details. Include your LinkedIn if it’s up to scratch.

Following that should be your personal profile, which is also known as a career objective or personal statement. This is a short paragraph that details who you are, your goals and what you can offer the company.

Education

Highlight where you’ve studied and the certificates you earned, especially if it’s relevant to the selection criteria. This should be listed in reverse chronological order, with key details including the names of the institutions, when you were there and the qualifications you achieved.

It’s worth noting the importance of pursuing additional courses that are relevant to your desired career path. This shows recruiters that you’ve taken the initiative to go above and beyond your traditional education. Here are some options:

Online Courses

The internet is home to countless websites where you can further your learning on any subject, often for free. Bulk up your CV by pursuing these in your spare time. Popular platforms include Udemy, Coursera, Alison and Khan Academy.

Postgraduate Courses

If you really want to take your education to the next level, then a postgraduate degree is the way to go. Check out these postgraduate courses for a detailed list of institutions in the UK.

Practical Training

There might be opportunities to obtain practical training, such as through internships in your area. This is a useful way to gain hands-on experience that recruiters in certain professions might value more than the theoretical stuff.

Experience

Your employment history is where you can detail your experience. Like your education, it should be listed in reverse chronological order to show the recruiter your most recent position, which is the most relevant. Each position should include the following information:

  • Job title
  • Employer
  • Dates
  • Summary of the role
  • Responsibilities
  • Skills
  • Achievements

Positions dating back more than a decade can be removed. If you have a long list, it’s best to exclude anything that isn’t relevant to the job you’re applying for. Remember to keep things short here. Aim to use powerful keywords to support the relevance of your work and highlight your impact.

Skills

Maybe you already have a number of skills under your belt. Perhaps you’re looking to grow your skill set, but you’re unsure about where to start. It helps to know what will add the most value to your CV.  

First, it’s important to discern the difference between soft skills and technical skills. The former refers to less tangible skills that are most valuable when it comes to positions that focus on teamwork or leadership. Soft skills include:

  • Creativity
  • Listening
  • Communication
  • Time Management
  • Decision Making
  • Motivation

Technical skills represent your knowledge or proficiency in a specific area. What will be most relevant to your CV depends on the job you’re applying for. Here are some examples:

  • Copywriting
  • Data Entry
  • Marketing
  • Accounting
  • Programming

It’s best to focus on skills that are relevant today, especially when it comes to using computers. Flexibility and problem solving are also highly valuable, as well as leadership. Of course, it’s a good idea to highlight the skills that were mentioned in the job listing – provided that you truly have them.  

Is there anything else that you should include? The above elements will mostly do the job, but listing a few relevant achievements can also prove beneficial. Just keep it simple.

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