Are You Good at CV Selection?

Are You Good at CV Selection?

Selection refers broadly to an arsenal of tools used in the recruitment experience including CV selection; Interviewing; Application Forms; Ability & Personality Testing, and Assessment Centres. One of the earliest stages is CV selection. Getting good at this saves a lot of time in the interview room. And time, as the old saying goes, is money.

People often question what ‘algorithms’ are used by recruitment professionals when viewing CV’s and choosing one over another. I am sympathetic to candidates who set about dusting off the CV, updating with their most recent, relevant experience and, with pride and hope, send it out to prospective employers. And then they wait… and often nothing happens!

They get discouraged and question why there wasn’t a more positive response, and wonder about the black hole their CV entered. Candidates feel their experience is great. That they are great. So what happened?

At RECRUITERS, we know you can tell a lot about someone from the CV or resumé. So there are around eight things we look at, five of which we’ll share in a series of articles. Rating them, in descending order, from 5 to no. 1 is:

no. 5 The CV itself

Does the CV still play a part in the recruitment process? Have social media profiles taken over? No, not yet, now they are supplementary to the CV. 99% of clients worked with still expect a candidates Cv as part of the process. This article focuses, not on the semantics and content of the CV, but the CV format, structure, layout, grammar and length. What does it look like?

"It’s the little things in life that can tell you a lot ", I often heard growing up. How true! The CV is a hugely revealing document. Don't you believe that? Question: “can a great candidate have a sloppy CV?” Perhaps someone was in a rush being so busy and successful in his or her job? Or, could it be that the only thing they are not great at is writing? And, shouldn't some slack be cut if you get a sloppy CV and see what the person behind that CV is like?”


The answer learned over many years in Recruitment and interviewing. There’s rarely, if ever, an instance of a poorly laid out, sloppy CV with mistakes, that has a great candidate behind it. Great candidates are self-aware. They pay respect to detail. They make the effort. If CV writing is not their forté, they seek help.

They consult, they look online, they find the expertise or templates to help them achieve their goal. No one is too busy to produce and present a good CV. Time can always be made, for what is a Brochure to you.

I know clients that will de-select a CV immediately, no matter the skill set and experience if there are mistakes on the CV. Why? Because the little things tell a lot. Little things are signs of bigger things to come down the line. If the person failed to spend time and diligence in preparing their CV, what will the rest of their work be like?

What care will be made in corporate communications leaving the company from them? Does it suggest poor communication skills? Are they really motivated and trying? Are they aware? Some examples of little things you see and the predictors include:

  • Spelling mistakes; poor alignment and formatting; bad grammar; wrong dates, etc. – all signs of hurried candidates, lacking attention to detail which question: Quality of Work / Attention to detail
  • Poor descriptions of roles; impertinent information that shows a lack of thought and ability to think critically and drill down to what’s important, which question: Decision making / strategic thinking
  • Long descriptions; long, drawn out pages of a CV which are signs of a long-winded communicator; which questions: Communication skills (effectiveness in meetings)

And the list goes on.

Sure, people can make mistakes on other types of communications and written documents. Take a look at the standards on the Internet. Look at the language on Twitter. But on a CV? A CV is a ‘Brochure of You’ and a ticket to great things, and it should be treated with respect. Great candidates have great CV'S. They are well organised, nicely written and laid out so they’re easy to read with information plain to see.

It’s evident that great candidates have taken a few passes at their CV. You get a picture in 20 seconds. You want to read on and the information is there when you want it. Great CV’s are not overly clever either (unless you work in UI/UX and Design). They are practical and make sense. The formatting is clean with a little colour and life in them. They are a good brochure for a good candidate.

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