What Recruiters Want from a CV

HR managers and recruiters are the gatekeepers in the job application process. Your CV will determine if they shortlist you.

Clive Lowe, OA Career Consultant, regularly attends career events for veterans, where HR managers and recruiters discuss what they look for in a CV. He shared these insights in a recent webinar with Ashka Raval, OA Recruitment Consultant. In a previous recruitment role, Ashka reviewed hundreds of CVs every day for jobs at different levels across a wide range of industries.

What is a CV?
“A concise and relevant overview to generate the right interest for a particular role.”

Your CV should include:

  • Name and contact details
  • Profile
  • Key Skills and/or Achievements
  • Career history
  • Qualifications (courses, training and memberships)
  • Personal interests.

Often a recruiter will decide within seven seconds of reading a CV if that person is suitable. Your CV must make a great first impression for the recruiter to progress your application to the interview stage.

Identify your skills
“A skill is something you have learned and developed – it is something you ‘do’. A key skill is something you do well, and enjoy doing.”

Hard skills include your qualifications, such as university degrees, completed courses and memberships of professional bodies. Soft skills include working well with people, problem solving, creativity and effective communication.

Capturing your achievements
“What did you do? Who did you work with? What was the outcome?”

Try to quantify your achievements so that recruiters recognise their value. Perhaps you helped an organisation reduce costs, save time, improve the quality of a service or increase efficiency. Where possible include figures.

Career History
When explaining your career history, include the date, organisation, department and role. Use the reverse chronological format and go back five to eight years in detail. Try to demonstrate Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

Some CV tips

  • Tailor your CV to each job application
  • Give the employer the information they want to know
  • Try to show how you will add value to the organisation
  • Use formal, professional language, but avoid military jargon
  • Ensure your CV  is well presented
  • Be honest
  • Proofread.


  • Just repeat the job description
  • Make it long and cluttered
  • Provide irrelevant detail
  • Include a photograph
  • Overuse subjective adjectives.

Watch the webinar

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