What Do Employers Want To See In Your CV?

By Andrew Fennell, Contributor

CV writing is never easy, no matter how many times you’ve done it in your professional career. After all, you need to craft a persuasive and engaging document that will motivate numerous recruiters and employers into contacting you. That’s not an easy task.

Not to mention that you have just mere seconds to grab recruiter’s attention. 

That’s a pretty tall order.

But what do employers really want to see on your CV aside from the obvious contact details, employment history, etc.?

There are actually five key features that employers want to see in successful candidates, and if you can focus your CV around them, you will see good results in the job market.


A simple layout and format

Due to the ever-decreasing attention spans in the recruitment sphere, you’ve got less time than ever to grab the recruiter’s attention before they want to move on to the next CV in their bursting inbox. The reality is that they are busy people and they want to find the most relevant information quickly.

By choosing a simple clutter-free layout and a clear font, you make the task of reading your CV a much easier and pleasant experience. Any recruiter can glide through the document, quickly spotting the key points they’re looking for to prove you’re a good fit for the role.

Conversely, a cluttered CV with photos, skills graphs and other unnecessary design features will cause headaches and make it difficult for readers to find what they want.

Keep things simple by using a plain text document, a clean font and plenty of white space on the page. Divide the CV up into clear sections with bold heading and use plenty of bullet points – this will result in much higher percentage or recruiters reading all of your CV, than if you opt for a complex design.


Only the most relevant information

Detail is crucial, but not if it’s outdated and irrelevant to the role you’re applying for. In that case, you’re just taking up precious space that could be better used.

For this reason, it’s best to focus your CV on the last one to three years of your career. This includes your most recent role and any important qualifications or skills you’ve gained in the last one to five years.

By focusing on a smaller period of your professional past, you give yourself the opportunity to go into more detail and to share your most recent and impactful achievements.

After all, we all develop and learn with each working day, so the recruiter doesn’t need to know what you were up to 10 years ago; they want to know why you’re suitable for their position right now, and what you can currently bring to the table.


Proof of your impact

There might have been a time when simply outlining your past responsibilities was enough, but in today’s competitive job market, you need to be able to prove how you’ve made an impact.

This means including your key achievements and showing how you added real value in past roles. The best way to do this is to provide plenty of facts and figures and always tie your responsibilities back to the impact they had on the employer.

For example, providing evidence of how you helped increase profit and including solid examples of revenue or until sales, will help employers visualise exactly how you could help improve their bottom line. And with more employers using social media to recruit than ever before, it's also worth getting LinkedIn recommendations from former managers to further bolster your claims.


Your ability to adapt

Adaptability has always been a sought-after skill for employers. However, it is more important now than ever before. With new technologies and working styles always emerging, the working world is going through some big changes.

The Coronavirus pandemic being just one example of how we quickly had to adapt to new ways of working and, in lots of cases, working remotely for long periods of time or having to take on completely new roles.

The best way to prove that you’re flexible and can adapt as needed, is to show how you’ve done his in the past. This means providing examples of how you have adapted to changes in working styles, lockdowns etc. or had to learn to operate new remote systems, or quickly move into a new team after a pandemic-forced company strategy change


No more than two pages long

Finally, your CV length should be no longer than one or two A4 pages, as this can be overwhelming for recruiters and could actually put them off reading it. If you are finding that your CV is becoming a bit long-winded, you could try cutting your profile down to keep it brief and ensure it only includes the most important information for your target jobs.

You can also remove old jobs from 10 years ago or more (recruiters will not be interested in them). You could summarise dated experience by grouping numerous roles into once sentence if you want to show some evidence of your background. For example, “10 years working as a business analyst with corporate finance”


By ensuring that your CV is formatted effectively and includes only the most important and relevant information, you can increase your chances of grabbing recruiter’s attention, impressing hiring managers and securing interviews for the best roles.


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