Scanning CVs is time-consuming and can be overwhelming, particularly if you’re a business owner trying to recruit whilst running the company. Effective CV scanning can save you time and effort in interviewing the wrong people and help you to find the most suitable candidates. What should you look for and how can you pick out the best candidates in the most efficient way?

  • Chronological order – work experience should be listed with the most recent first with clear dates company name / location and a brief outline of the role. This makes it easier for you to read but allows you to get a snapshot of their career path so far. It also helps you to spot any gaps (see below). Make sure the dates add up and make sense, if they don’t it could be that the candidate’s attention to detail isn’t great or that they are hiding something.
  • Look for gaps – this is nothing to be concerned about in itself, so long as they have explained the gaps (such as a career break / studying / sabbaticals etc). Unexplained gaps will need to be addressed if they reach interview stage.
  • Attention to detail – good CVs are neat and professional formatted correctly and should have no typos or grammatical errors. Badly proofed CVs are a sign of someone with no attention to detail.
  • Career progression – looking at their employment history, have they been progressing their career from role to role? If not, then why not? Ideally you should clearly see a progression from their first role up to where they are currently. Does your role fit in with their development? Are they at the right level?
  • Look at the skills listed – the skills highlighted under each role should relate to your role which will also demonstrate that the candidate has taken the time to consider your job spec and adapt their CV to highlight why they are relevant. Do the skills listed back up anything they have said in the personal statement? Check for clichés or generic skills, do the skills match the role they are listed against?
  • Achievements – great CVs include stats and evidence to back up claims of success in their career, such as “achieved targets by increasing sales by 50%” for example. This makes it easier to pick out the facts about their experience and gives you something tangible to discuss at interview.
  • CV length: ideally a CV should be no longer than two pages – anything longer suggests that the candidate is not able to be concise.
  • Is there a cover letter? The ideal candidates will have taken the time to include a cover letter which is tailored to the job, explaining why they are suitable and how their skills match. So many candidates no longer add this to an application now that most vacancies are advertised online, however our recruiters are always more included to look at an application which has come with a covering letter.
  • Education – whilst this is usually the smallest section of a CV, and we recommend candidates don’t list too many things here, it can be useful to see whether they have any relevant training or qualifications for your role.

Download this blog post as a What-to-look-for-in-a-CV-checklist.pdf (353 downloads) . For the next steps, keep your eyes peeled for our post about the questions to ask in an interview – coming next week.