What recruiters look for in a CV – the blueprint to success

If you’re repeatedly getting little response from job boards and recruitment companies, maybe putting your CV under the microscope can help get your job hunt back on track

It goes without saying just how important a CV is and at Surge Recruitment House we have seen some shockers in our time. It doesn’t matter how impressive you are at interview stage, if you can’t make it onto the ‘YES’ CV pile. The amount of times we have met and been surprised by a really impressive applicant, who looks poor on paper is staggering. And so if you are finding it difficult to secure the face-to-face meeting with recruitment consultants or companies directly, why not take a look at the blueprint for an interview-winning CV below.

Straightforward and clean presentation

Think of the layout and presentation of your CV as a reflection of how you are in person. Would you go in with a bright pink shirt, a red jacket, purple trousers and blue shoes? Biggins and Lleywelyn-Bowen might, but chances are you probably wouldn’t. So with this is mind, make sure there aren’t any wild colour choices, and that you have a nice crisp layout and a standard font such as Ariel, Calibri or Times New Roman. The format should be uniform, regular and easy to read.

Size does matter

Less is more when it comes to a CV and make sure you do your very best to get all of the key information into two pages. A recruiter will scan over an average CV in roughly 15-20 seconds, and if something significant or relevant grabs their eye, they will be kept on a CV longer. If you can’t summarise your experience in two pages, you are probably going into too much irrelevant detail and you may be guilty of waffling on. Wiping cat wee off the floor at the local cattery may have been a great introduction to the working world at the age of 14, but now you are 23 and applying for your first serious career move out of university, it doesn’t seem quite so important does it?

Start with a strong statement

“I have been passionate about property ever since watching Homes Under the Hammer from an early age”

If we had a penny for every time we have read the above opening statement.Clichés are the killer in an opening personal statement, and they make you sound like everybody else who has put in their application. You need to make yourself stand out, whilst clearly outlining your most relevant experience and your argument as to why you should be picked over everybody else. Be bold, be creative and be factual. Make yourself stand out to recruiters in the first line, rather than playing safe and standing in the ‘NO’ pile with everybody else.

Tailor your CV to the position

One CV doesn’t fit every position you go for, so it’s important to tailor each CV you send out to the specifics and key detail of the role. If you have Business Support experience as an example, your CV for a PA position should be different to your CV for an Office Manager role. Despite a clear crossover in the fundamentals of both positions, there will be aspects of your CV that will certainly be more relevant to one rather than the other. The best way to fit the desired criteria is to work your way down a job specification, and give examples in your CV of you fulfilling each point.

Perfect spelling and grammar

The care and attention to detail you give your CV is once again reflected in how you are as a person. If your statement is littered with grammatical errors, it just gives the impression you take little care and pride over your work. There are no positives to a poorly worded CV, so have it proof checked by a friend to make sure you are presenting yourself on paper in the best light.

Back your strengths up with examples

It is so easy to use loose phrases such as ‘I always give 110% and go above and beyond the call of duty’, however it just begs a recruiter or HR manager reading your CV to ask ‘how?’. ‘I always give 110% and go above and beyond the call of duty, perfectly illustrated by me helping the sales department to increase turnover by 25% last year and personally billing £100,000 more than my financial year previously’. Which is the more convincing argument?

Strong references

A good recruiter is going to follow your references up, and it always looks good to have the last two previous employers as your most current references. The higher up the corporate chain the references are the better, but anyone from manager level above should be able to give a clear overview of how you are in a working environment. Putting your Dad’s mate as a reference doesn’t have quite the same gravitas as putting the CEO of the last company you worked for.


Have you got more to add? Why not comment at www.surgerecruitment.com ,  Tweet us, Facebook us or email hello@surgerecruitment.com, as we’d love to hear your feedback.