What to look for in a CV

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When you first receive CV’s from potential candidates, you need a fair way of narrowing them down, to make your final shortlist. Each candidate has unique qualities and skills, but now good a match are they for the position you have… and how can you narrow the selection down?

You can ascertain a lot about the candidates, before you’ve even read the words on those CV’s – after all, these pieces of paper are designed to sell the candidates… so how exactly can you do this?

CV selectionHow well does it read?

CV selectionWhat are your first impressions? How pleasing on the eye is the CV? Does it read easy and have a logical layout?

Previous Jobs

Look at the last couple of jobs and see if the persons experience fits what you’re looking for. Were they in similar jobs previously?


Check the candidate’s qualifications and see if they have those that match your criteria. Do they have qualifications and skills that are perfect for the role you want to fill, that you originally hadn’t thought of?

Gaps and length of service

Next, move onto the dates used on the CV – do they have gaps in their work history? How long were they in their previous jobs for?

CVCVCVCVnotesCVThe length of service for their last few jobs will illustrate what type of jobs they preferred. Were they previously contractor or permanent positions? Did the type of job dictate their length of service – or were they in permanent jobs but didn’t stay very long?

CVAttention to detail

Finally, look for overall attention to detail. Check out their spelling and grammar and see how accurate it is. Have they used the same font throughout their CV – or is it obvious that they’ve just updated their most recent job using a different font – and not bothered to update the rest of the CV?

By looking at the overall presentation and layout of their CV, you will be able to get a pretty accurate picture of what kind of person each candidate is like. Use this to narrow down your first pass through the CV’s – and make this first pass fast and fair.

What are your top tips for narrowing down candidate CVs? Do you think CV presentation gives you an accurate view of the candidate’s personality? Why not share your views and tips in the comments section below?


Images courtesy of Renjith Krishnan and artur84/


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