A Recruiter's Guide to Writing a CV

Writing a CV that will make a Recruiter or Hiring Manager pick up the phone and call you isn’t as hard as it sounds. Throughout the day, we see hundreds of CVs and, unfortunately a large portion of candidates often miss the mark and the chance to interview for a job. After all, a CV is often the first point of contact between you and your next potential employer, and will likely be the first impression you make. So, if your CV isn’t getting you through the door and into an interview, don’t get discouraged. This guide to writing a CV aims to give you some practical tips you can easily implement, for better results.

The Importance of First Impressions

A CV and a cover letter are vital to any professional’s job search and whilst both will tell a potential employer what you’ve done, what your skills are and why they should hire you, they do so in completely different ways.

After receiving an application, we will go straight to the CV to ensure the skills and experience match what is needed before taking a closer took. A CV should include all the critical information you want an employer to see first, and persuade them to take a closer look by reading on or by calling you.

If the CV on its own isn’t quite enough for us to call a candidate, we check the cover letter next for more detail on why the candidate is considering the job. In the cover letter we also expect to see more on why the candidate’s skills and experience are relevant to this vacancy and what they can offer the employer.

As mentioned before, a CV’s overall objective should be to get an interview, so let’s discuss the key elements you should consider when writing a CV.

Keeping it Relevant

The most important thing is for your CV to mirror the job advertisement you’re applying to. Recruiters and Hiring Managers will scan CVs for the candidate’s key skills and experience. If we place an advert for a hard-working Accounts Administrator that can work without supervision, then that’s the key information we would be filtering CVs for. In that example, including your clerical accounts experience and highlighting examples of times you’ve worked autonomously will help your application secure more attention, giving you a better chance of success.

A summary of your most recent work history should be easy to read and include job titles, dates employed and employer names. This should be followed by a bullet point list of your jobs’ responsibilities.

We noticed that candidates will often list their soft skills as well, but keep in mind that anyone can say they’re‘ a team-player’ or ‘resilient’. Not enough candidates stand out by using their job responsibilities to showcase their soft skills in action. Adding in specific details to give evidence of this can make a world of difference, for example: “I have enjoyed working collaboratively in this team and I’m proud of the 150% increase in sales we have achieved over the last six months. At the end of our performance deadline, I was nominated and awarded the values award for my consistent contribution.”

Concluding with a list of achievements, such as any relevant certifications you undertook during your employment, can strengthen your application for a vacancy. For example, candidates applying for administrative roles may want to consider including their typing speed or data entry volumes. If you’re struggling to think of some key achievements, ask your referees for their input. Perhaps you have saved your employer money, increased revenue or profitability, or implemented new processes which have saved time or money. Taking the time to think about your achievements in advance of creating your CV will also assist you when you get to the interview stage.

Whether you’re looking for your first job or needing to increase your visibility to move into a new industry, volunteering can allow you to gather skills and experience that you would otherwise be missing. Include this experience when writing a CV to better equip yourself to get a job until you have the work experience needed to replace it with.

Adding Personality

Tailoring a CV to a job description can run the risk of it becoming bland and boring. Candidates who make their experiences mean something when writing a CV can avoid this. Referencing projects that challenged them or they’re proud of, highlighting that they’ve enjoyed becoming an industry specialist or the fact that they’ve gained experience across multiple sectors, see their CVs stand out.

That being said, be mindful when discussing your personal interests. Consider whether a potential employer will want to know about your life outside of work and whether it’s relevant to the job. Having interests which align with your skills or experience can be another great way to get an edge over other applicants. A genuinely intriguing interest can also provide you with a way to break the ice during an interview, and any way to help alleviate interview nerves is handy!

Differentiate Through Design

Every vacancy we have recruited for will tend to ask something different from each applicant than the last, so it can be a good idea to avoid relying on one CV. Candidates who have multiple CVs for the various different jobs they’re applying to can be more successful throughout their job search. Consider if your key experience, skills and interests at the front of your CV reflect the essential criteria the Recruiter or Hiring Manager is looking for.

We often hear from candidates who’ve been advised that a CV should be around one or two pages long. Whilst this is a good place to start, the length of your CV should vary depending on the role you’re applying to. Most importantly, it must reflect the depth of your relevant work experience.

The design of a CV matters, but only as long as it’s simple and easy to read. We’ve noticed that CVs which have had effort put into them and look professional portray more seriousness from the candidate. Don’t worry, if you’re not the artistic type, it is always the content versus the bells and whistles and there are plenty of CV templates out there which can help you get started.


Putting effort into your CV can provide a great deal of success in your job search, however it can be a time consuming and tedious task. If you’re having difficulty getting an interview and unsure if it’s your CV that’s letting you down, then get in touch with us at Peoplebank today for the first step towards success.

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