At the Careers Service, we know that creating a CV can be stressful for many people. But it doesn’t have to be! Read on to find out what recruiters are looking for when reviewing a CV and our advice about doing these last checks before you hit the ‘submit’ button.
You’ve read the job advert carefully, followed our advice on how to write a CV, spent some time researching the organisation you’re applying to and created what you believe to be a successful CV. Now you’re ready to submit your application. But did you know that recruiters spend only a few seconds scanning a CV at the first stage of the recruitment process? This means it’s essential that your CV meets the following basic criteria and stands out for all the right reasons.
So, before you submit your CV, make sure you check the following:
The length and font
As a general rule of thumb, your CV should be at most two A4 pages (academic CVs are an exception to that). Before submitting your CV, ensure it is within this limit. If it isn’t, reread the CV and ensure you keep only the most relevant to the job information. The formatting of some CV templates takes up a lot of space, making CVs unnecessarily long and the content hard to take in at a glance – so why not base yours on the sample CVs we have created instead?
Also, check that the font type and size make the CV easy to read. Arial 12pt is a safe option.
Some recruiters say that one factor that makes CVs difficult to read is large paragraphs which are not broken up by formatting such as bullet points or other ways to highlight the key information. Look at your CV at one glance – as a recruiter would. Is it easy to distinguish between the different information? Are there sections and clear structure? Is the information in reverse chronological order? If you can’t distinguish between the various pieces of information or you’re feeling overwhelmed just by looking at it, then you might need to rethink how you present your CV.
Before you hit ‘submit’, double-check that the information in your CV is relevant to the job you’re applying for. When scanning CVs, recruiters are looking for keywords that will help them understand if the applicant has the skills to do the job successfully. They want to learn about your relevant transferable skills and achievements and use this as the basis for deciding whether or not to invite you to interview. It’s important to share what you have achieved rather than mere job titles and descriptions.
Remember to check your contact details too. Imagine you have created a great CV but included out-of-date or inaccurate contact details! The recruiters won’t be able to get in touch with you.
Spelling, punctuation and grammar
You have crafted a perfect CV with all the relevant information; you’re happy with how you have formatted and presented it and your details are all up to date. But have you run a spellcheck? A CV with typos and spelling errors will give the impression that you created it in a hurry and didn’t take the trouble to double-check it. There are great tools out there that can help you with that. If you write your CV in Word, you can use Microsoft Office checks; alternatively, Grammarly spellchecker is a good option.
Get some feedback
You’ve looked at your CV repeatedly and you’re sure you haven’t missed anything. However, it’s helpful to have another pair of eyes that will look at your CV objectively and catch any details that might have slipped your attention. A family member or a friend can help you, or you can use our CV360 tool to get instant feedback. If you want to speak with someone, come to one of our drop-in sessions at the Careers Service, where our friendly Careers Information Advisers will be happy to discuss your CV.
Making these checks can really make all the difference to your application! A clear and to-the-point CV containing all the relevant information can go a long way to earning you an invitation to an interview. So, it’s worth sparing a few minutes to review your CV before you hit ‘submit’.
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