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Career Advice

The First Things Employers Look for on a CV

Your CV is your ticket to the promised land – the job of your dreams that you have worked all of your working life for, so you want to ensure that everything on your CV gives the best representation of your professional profile. Potential employers won’t spend longer than a few seconds reading a CV, so you need to make sure that you hit all of the keynotes and make your resume as appealing as possible.

How, exactly, do you sell yourself in such a short amount of time? At this point, employers are looking for an attractive snapshot of a potential candidate who they can invite in for an interview; they don’t want a full autobiography. Keep your CV short and sweet – long enough to cover all of the import parts, but short enough to keep things interesting.

Skills and Experience

The candidate’s skills and experience is the very first thing that employers will look at. They will have a criterion that they are looking for when perusing a mountain of CVs for a job opening and, if a candidate’s resume doesn’t appear to tick the relevant boxes, it will find its way into the bin.

It’s brutal, but it’s the most effective means of scanning resumes. A good piece of advice would be for candidates to tailor their CV depending on the skillset the opening advertises for. By making these skills stand out on your CV, mixed in with the applicable, your resume will be passing the opening hurdle.


Rightly or wrongly, many companies look for qualifications such as degrees to bolster a candidate’s resume. Not only does it show that they can expect a certain level of academic intelligence, but it also demonstrates that the candidate has worked hard for their achievements.

Also, again rightly or wrongly, emphasis is also placed on where the candidate acquired their qualification. For example, a degree from Harvard University will hold greater clout than the same degree from a less prestigious institution. Much of this comes from what you have to do to qualify for a space at Harvard University in the first place.

Something Special

You need something a little extra special to make your CV stand out from the rest; something that, even at a quick glance, draws the attention of the reader – which, in this case, is your potential new boss. Consider playing with the layout and formatting of your resume, because as impressive as the actual content itself might be, it still looks like a block of text on an A4 sheet of paper.

Be careful not to go OTT and make your CV look anything but professional. If you are applying for a creative position such as a designer, this will demonstrate your flair that may just convince your potential employer that your name should feature on their shortlist.

Spelling and Grammar

There is nothing worse than talking yourself up as an intelligent candidate who takes pride in their work, only for it all to be ruined by a stupid spelling mistake. This only shows the employer that you do not take as great care and consideration as you like to think – after all, if you can’t make sure that your own personal work is up to scratch, why should they trust you working in their name?

Double and triple proof your resume. If spelling and grammar isn’t necessarily your strong point, don’t be too proud to ask a friend or family member to give it a once over for you. Would you rather they pick you up on a mistake or a potential employer?

Up to Date Contact Details

This is a simple one, but can you imagine being the employer who has spent a good amount of time shifting through CV after CV and finding a suitable candidate, only to have no up to date contact details to reach them? A new email address or phone number can be easily missed when updating your CV, but it has the potential to completely scupper your employment aspirations.

Make sure all information is up to date and correct as of the time of application. If you cannot be contacted it doesn’t matter how suitable you are for the position…someone else will be ready and waiting!


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