CV Tips: What Recruiters Are Looking For

When pursuing a dream job, your CV will need to impress recruiters and show them that you are a strong suitable candidate. But what exactly do recruiters like us want to see in a CV and how do we need the information presented?

The first hurdle

Firstly, you must persuade recruiters to open your CV. Even the best CV in the world is useless if it sits unopened in a recruiter’s inbox. To ensure that recruiters open your CV in the first place, you must include a powerful cover note to tempt them in. Keep your cover note short and sharp to save the reader time and provide a summary of how your skills and experience match the job advert requirements. Remember to address the recruiter by name and write in a friendly tone to create a good impression and start to build a rapport with them.

Recruiters scan your CV for relevant content

Once a recruiter has opened your CV, the first thing they will do, is spend an initial 6-10 seconds scanning the CV for the essential skills and knowledge. This is initial scan is just to ensure that your CV has enough of the role’s candidate requirements, before they invest the time read your CV in full. If your CV doesn’t pass this quick scan, then it’s likely that the recruiter will close your CV down and move on to the next one. To ensure that your CV makes an instant impact when opened, make it easy to read and highlight the skills that are relevant to your target roles. Use a clear simple font, break text up, structure the pages well and make your relevant talents prominent.

Recruiters focus on your current role

Your current or most recent role is by far the biggest indicator of what you are capable of at this stage of your career; so recruiters will spend a lot of time studying this section of your CV. They want to know things like:

  • Your position within the organisation
  • Overall goal of your role
  • People you interact with (managers, suppliers, customers etc.)
  • Tools/software used (IT packages, machinery, hardware etc.)
  • Work produced (reports, websites, physical products etc.)
  • Targets and achievements

Write about your current role in great detail to give recruiters lots of information and show exactly what you have contributed to your employer. Older roles can be shortened down and summarised to save space on your CV.

Recruiters look for numbers

Facts and figures are excellent indicators of value for recruiters because they give an idea of the scale of impact you have created. So recruiters love to see numbers on your CV that quantify the results you have achieved for yourself, employers and clients. When writing your CV, try to add some measurable achievements such as:

  • Generated 150 unit sales in 3 months
  • Resolved 95% of complaints in 24 hours
  • Cut department spending by 15%

Recruiters are very cautious

Recruiters work hard to maintain good relationships with hiring managers and providing bad candidates can seriously damage those relationships. For this reason, recruiters are very careful about which CVs they recommend for positions. Things like gaps in employment and sloppy formatting can be enough to worry recruiters into leaving out of the shortlist. Don’t give recruiters any chance to doubt you; ensure that your CV looks professional and has no deal-breaking mistakes.




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5 Must Ask Job Interview Questions

When you’re sitting in a job interview, you’re going to be fielding a lot of questions from a hiring manager. However, many applicants forget that the interview is the ideal time for them to ask some questions of their own. While the hiring manager wants to ensure that you’re a good fit for their organization, you also want to get a sense of what this company is all about too. To do that, make sure to ask the following questions:

What’s the biggest issue facing the company and how might I be able to help?

This gives you some insight into how you can be most useful should you get hired. It also gives you a look into where the company’s main areas of focus might be. For example, if they’re telling you that they’re in desperate need of a new website, you can then speak to your familiarity with working on this type of project as you go about the rest of the interview.

How does your company define success?

This will let you know whether the organization is a good fit for you. It also allows you to get a sense of how to get ahead should you get hired. Whether success is measured in numbers, an attitude, ideas, or all of the above, having this information in advance is valuable.

Do you offer opportunities for further training or professional development for your employees?

You want to work for a company that invests in its employees, and this is one way to tell if this is the case.  As an added bonus, it shows that you’re interested in continuing to improve yourself and learn more.

Do you have plans for new products or services?

Make sure to research ahead of time so you know that there’s nothing in the news that you should know about before you ask this question. If it’s clear there’s not, ask away, as it can give you some insight as to how your time with the company may be spent if you get the job. This is also another question that lets you tailor your answers so that you can show off your skills and illustrate how you’d be an essential part of that new product they’re hoping to launch.

What is the next step in the process?

It’s okay to ask the hiring manager to demystify their process for you a little bit. Depending on the person, you may get a lot of clarity—they tell you they’re interviewing three other people and will get back to you in a few weeks, for example—or they may be more vague. Either way, you’ll leave with a better sense of what to expect.


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3 Ways To Find A Job That You Love

Finding a job that suits your personality and long-term career desires can be exceptionally difficult, especially right after college graduation. But getting hired by an organization that you actually care about with a work environment you enjoy is the key to a happy work life. After all, the average American will spend 8.9 hours per day at work or doing work-related things such as commuting.

Perhaps the best way in which to determine the type of career you need to be happy is to take the time to assess yourself and what motivates you to do well. How much time sitting in an office are you willing to tolerate? Do you need alone time to be productive or a more collaborative work environment? Finally, think about management; do you need freedom or direction to be your best at work?

Is Office Life Your Style?
Office life is often defined by one thing: amount of time spent in front of a computer screen. And with new technologies emerging every day that need someone qualified to use them, it seems like these are the types of jobs most likely to be hiring. For example, with the implementation of big data, more and more companies are hiring data analysts to help them understand their customer base, save time and money, and to make more informed company decisions. Over 75 percent of business owners want their companies to be more analytics driven, which has led to a boom in that job market.

In the age where nearly every job has some computer component, it is essential to ask yourself how much screen time you can handle. If you are the type that gets antsy after only an hour of computer work, that is definitely something to consider during a job search because you are unlikely to find happiness sitting for eight or more hours at a time. If you do go that route remember, adapting to a sedentary working lifestyle can be incredibly difficult, especially if you are used to a college schedule, so take the time to make sure you can find ways to stay active in the office.

Are You a Social Butterfly?
Some people are able to spend their entire day talking with coworkers, yet still manage to be some of the most productive people in the office. These are the people that thrive in conditions that promote communication and collaboration such as open floor plans. These employees work best by interacting with their peers and brainstorming ideas together.

If this doesn’t describe you, don’t worry. Another important trait to understand about yourself to aid in your job search is how much time you need alone to still be productive. A lot of people are in need of a balance between social and isolated work environments throughout the day. After understanding what you need to be both happy and productive it is important to ask interviewers how their office layout compares.

Can You Find Management That Works for You?
In addition to understanding how much time you want to spend collaborating with coworkers, make sure to have an idea of how much oversight you want from a manager. Some of the most successful managers are able to gauge how much interaction you need with them and adjust their management strategies to correlate. However, not all are like that.

Identifying if you work best with a set of tasks and guidance or rather general goals and creative space is key in determining if you will work well with a certain manager. Bad managers, or differing work styles between managers and employees, are frequently cited as the number one reason that a person leaves a job willingly. For that reason, it can save a lot of hassle to ask about management oversight during an interview and decide if it would be right for you.

Having an understanding about your basic requirements for workplace happiness can open a number of surprising doors for careers that you may have never thought of yourself in. Furthermore, it can eliminate a number of jobs that sounds like a fit on the surface. Evaluating your willingness to spend time with computers, desired level of coworker collaboration, and necessary manager involvement can be a huge step towards finding the career that YOU love.


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Alternative Ways To Reach Your Career Goals

As we’re growing up, we’re often asked what we want to be. As small children our answer is obviously always incredibly basic and typically influenced by the careers we are frequently exposed to: doctor, police officer, trash collector, etc. Even after we’ve reached adulthood sometimes our ideas of career opportunities can be pretty narrow.

For many, it isn’t until we reach college (and sometimes after) and begin exploring the realities of different careers that the job opportunity door blows open. We suddenly realize that there is so much more to becoming a doctor, a scientist, or even a lawyer than we previously thought; there are specialties within specialties. It is around this point when many of us acknowledge there are multitudes of ways in which to achieve projected career goals.

Same Dog, New Tricks

To elaborate this point with a medical example, the majority of us tend to think broadly of the medical field as limited to doctors and nurses. However, this is certainly not the case. Healthcare facilities have administrative staff, HR personnel, maintenance crews, medical technicians, and more. Even doctors and nurses can vary widely based upon their specialties which can range from pediatrics, to neuroscience, to gerontology.

Depending upon the specialty, the lines between doctors and nurses can even begin to blur. In fact, the rift between doctors and nurses has gotten progressively smaller over the past few decades. For this reason, if your career goal is to help people with health conditions have a higher quality of life, limiting yourself to only becoming a doctor could greatly reduce your career opportunities.

Lines of Gray

By delving even further into the nuances of all the opportunities to help people within a medical career, you soon realize that even choosing to become a nurse still leaves a great number of options on the table. For instance, if you prefer a fast-pace lifestyle where quick decisions are key, you may prefer becoming an emergency room nurse. If you are more drawn to working with a specific condition you might focus on becoming something like an oncological nurse. There are even options available to those that would like autonomy to develop treatments for patients as a nurse practitioner.

Often times, we are unaware of the many different career choices out there when we enter the job market. Failing to see these lines of gray can limit the types of jobs we search for and apply to, which in turn can make finding a career we love more difficult. This can be the case in nearly every industry if we look properly.

Freedom to Choose

Sometimes finding an alternative path to your career goals can have a number of additional benefits. For instance, some physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners make almost as much as normal doctors. However, these two alternative careers have the added benefit of fewer years of higher education and far fewer student loans.

Additionally, these alternative careers may have more flexible schedules that suit your lifestyle a bit better than a traditional nine to five. They may offer slightly different and unique opportunities to you as an employee as well.

Becoming aware of the vast array of differing career opportunities is a great way to find alternative ways in which to meet your career goals. Frequently, we are unaware of a number of job openings that are available that meet these goals because we are unsure of the variety of similar positions out there. As you step into the job market be sure to keep an open eye for these potential alternative careers.



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How to Make Your Own Luck at Networking Events

No matter how experienced you are professionally, networking events can be overwhelming. You’re thrown into a room with dozens and dozens of people you don’t know, and you have a limited of time to make an impression. While it’s tempting to stand in the corner and sip your drink nervously, here are some tips on making the most of your time at these types of professional events:

Head into the Event with a Goal in Mind

Do you want to talk to a specific person who you know will be there? Do you want to exchange cards with three people? Perhaps you want to talk with someone who has a management role in your field. Setting goals for yourself ahead of time makes it easier to track your success.

Don’t Bombard People with Requests

Networking events are a great way to get to know other professionals, but they’re not the time to start hounding people with requests. Get to know the other person and focus on building a relationship first. If you introduce yourself and immediately start inundating the individual with requests, you’ll position yourself as someone who’s just there to use others, even if this isn’t really the case.

Listen More Than You Talk

No one wants to get caught listening to someone give a monologue. To be a desirable conversation partner at a networking event, make it a point to ask questions about the other person. What do they like about their job? What are their hobbies? Do they have children? What brought them to the area? Offer up relevant details about yourself as they come up, but don’t spend the whole time going on and on about your own accomplishments.

Listen Closely

The best way to have a conversation with someone you just met is by listening carefully. When they provide an answer to a question, actually listen to what they’re saying and ask follow-up questions based on their response. When you sit there and pepper someone with questions without listening to what they’ve just told you, don’t be shocked when they start looking for a way to politely exit the discussion.

Keep in Contact After the Event

You can have dozens of productive conversations at the event, but if you fall off the face of the planet once you walk out the door then you’ve just wasted your time. In order to build a strong network, stay in touch afterwards. Connect on LinkedIn or Twitter, send an e-mail telling the person it was nice to meet them, and make it a point to meet up again at a later date.

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Where do you see yourself in five years? Avoiding interview cliches

“Where do you see yourself in five years time?” is one of the most infamous interview questions, yet it’s difficult to answer without resorting to dreaded cliches like “I just want to be doing something I enjoy”, or “I’m not really sure”.

Why are employers so keen on asking this? Probably because it’s one of those sneaky interview questions to which your answer can reveal much more than you might imagine: from whether you’ve got a solid career plan and know what you want to do, to how well you understand the position you’re applying for and how you define success.

For all these reasons, this question has a tendency of throwing interviewees into panic mode. Here are some pointers on what interviewers really want to hear:

Be ambitious, but realistic

Employers will always be attracted to ambitious candidates – after all, nobody wants an employee who feels apathetic about their job. That said, you need to be realistic in terms of how quickly you can rise through the ranks. For instance, if you say that you want to be leading a team of 20 within three years’ time, and this would only usually happen within a 10-year period in the company you’re talking to, you risk being perceived as a little arrogant and unprepared.

To avoid voicing wildly unrealistic aspirations, do your research. Search the company website and the LinkedIn profiles of current employees before your interview to look for any hints about how long members of staff have taken to progress.

Talk in terms of achievements and responsibilities

Another common mistake candidates make when answering this question is to talk about money or company perks. For example, “I want to be earning £50,000 or more, have a company car and a life-insurance policy.” In the vast majority of careers, perhaps with the exception of recruitment or sales, motivation to make large amounts of money or get company perks isn’t always going to be seen as an attractive quality. It will make an employer think you’re more interested in the things that come with the career they can offer, rather than the career itself.

Instead, your answer should focus on your professional development. Speak in terms of skills you’d like to acquire or ones you’d like to be using, qualifications you’d like to have completed or responsibilities you’d like to have.

Be specific, but flexible

Giving a vague answer to is another familiar faux pas. For example, “I’m not sure, five years is such a long time away. I could see myself working my way up in marketing, but I’m also interested in finance.”

Employers want to know that you know what you want. After all, hiring, training and developing people is an expensive business – if you’re going to leave in six months, your employer will have lost both time and money.

While you certainly shouldn’t lie about your plans, you can be less than candid if you’re considering several career options – only ever speak about your interest in the industry in which the company you’re interviewing with operates.

Although specific aspirations will be well received, rigidity in your ambitions won’t be, so choose your phrasing carefully. Rather than saying, “I need to have been promoted within a maximum of three years and I’ll be really disappointed if I’m not working with high profile clients in five years’ time”, you could say, “I’d like to have more responsibility in the next three to five years, ideally I’d be working on some of this company’s fantastic high profile accounts.” The first answer implies that if the company can’t fulfil your ambitions, you’ll be dissatisfied, while the second answer suggests a little more compliance on your part.

Talk about your professional, rather personal, ambitions

Unless an interviewer specifically asks you to comment on your personal ambitions, the safest option is to avoid mentioning them altogether. Saying that you want to be captain of your local tennis team, to have visited Japan or that you hope to be married with two children may not be well received. Employers want to hear about where you see your work self in five years’ time, anything else is irrelevant and can make you seem unprofessional and ill-prepared.

Emphasise the value you can bring to the organisation

While at first glance the five years question seems like it is probing your ambitions and wants, you should never miss an opportunity in an interview to subtly emphasise what you can do for your potential employer. It can be shrewd to end your answer with something like: “Overall I want to be making a marked difference to X of your company, helping to secure and add to its current reputation as a leader within Y and contributing to the company’s overall growth and success.”

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Does Your CV Pass The 30 Second Speed Test?

There are very many things that can be completed within 30 seconds. You could butter a slice of toast and eat it. You could read an email and reply. You could even run up and down a flight of stairs twice. However, it is a safe bet that most of the big decisions you make in life usually take time and consideration. So, when you think about the importance of a CV, it may be a source of great frustration that most recruiters make a decision on calling someone to interview in less than 30 seconds. That is less time than it takes to read this paragraph.

Even 30 seconds may be overstating it…

In fact, even 30 seconds may be overstating how long is spent on average reading a CV. According to research carried out by The in 2012, the average time spent reading a CV was just 6.25 seconds.  And to think, all those hours spent honing your finely crafted CV! But whether it is 30 seconds or 6, the message is clear: you have only a very short window of opportunity for your CV to work its magic.

A 2-page CV is ideal

Certainly, with just seconds to work with there is clearly no point in writing pages and pages of detail. Giving yourself a 2-page format helps to focus the mind. It gives you a concise framework from which to work with and decide what information to include and what to leave out. With every piece of information, you should ask yourself ‘is this going to positively influence the reader in making a decision on calling me to interview?’. If the answer is not a ‘yes’ you can probably leave it out.

Engage the reader immediately

It is vital to capture the attention of the reader quickly. The first thing a recruiter wants to see is the relevance of your CV. So make sure you position yourself clearly in line with the role being applied for in the Professional Profile at the beginning of your CV. This is why a Professional Profile can be really useful. It can act like an on/off switch. A focused profile that shows your relevance will switch the reader on. A generic profile that is not aligned to the job being applied for may switch the reader off.

Make your CV easy to navigate

Make sure your section headings stand out so that the CV is easy to navigate. Recruiters like to scan the CV so make the information accessible. Use bullet points to help statements stand out and don’t justify the text. There is nothing a time stretched recruiter hates to see more than a big block of black ink. They may read the first line if you are lucky.  And most of the really important information is probably going to be buried deep somewhere within the paragraph block.

So give your CV the 30 second litmus test. If you can read the key parts of your CV in under half a minute, then you might just stand a good chance of catching a potential employers eye.


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Dealing With A Diverse Work History On Your CV

When hiring managers spend increasingly less time reading CVs, you need to join up the dots for them and quickly demonstrate that you’re a strong candidate. This isn’t too difficult if you’re applying for a similar role or in the same sector, but it’s more challenging if you’ve had a number of different jobs, if you’re changing career, or if you’re going back to a role or sector you previously worked in.

Here are some ways you can make sense of diverse experience:

Tailor your CV to the role

Your CV should not be a list of everything you’ve done. It’s purpose is to position you for the role, so decide what’s most important and delete unimportant details.

You might need to refocus your history to make it more appropriate. For example, if your previous job was in administration, with additional sales responsibilities, and you now want to move into sales, you can write in your experience section “administrative assistant with special responsibility for sales” and highlight your sales work and related achievements over the administration duties.

Focus on the wider themes of your career history

Go beyond the job titles and think about what you have consistently done well throughout your career. Have you always excelled at leading teams, helping people, increasing customer satisfaction, promoting a product or cause, for example? You can use this information to help build your brand and to strengthen your skills section.

By looking back over your career, you can probably find patterns of achievements or types of roles where you’ve made the strongest impact. These patterns help you clarify your brand — the qualities and career strengths that differentiate you and bring value to an organisation. Focus on these strengths when you write your CV and include career achievements that illustrate them.

A one-sentence branding statement under your CV heading (the job title that you’re applying for) and a three to five-sentence career summary or professional profile also help to communicate your brand and immediately appeal to an employer.

Some skills (such as communication, organisation and leadership skills) are useful in all roles. Highlight these, especially if you need to compensate for a sketchy experience section.

This example is a reply to a question on the forums where the poster was asking how someone with a varied career can identify a specialism:

“Separate your skills into different categories; financial and budgetary, marketing and customer service, project management, technical and so on. For each skill area, think of one example to illustrate. What programs are you an expert at in web design? What sort of marketing have you been able to do on a restricted budget? And so on. The job description will give you a good indication of what skills and abilities they most want to see.”

Reorganise your work history

Rather than sticking to a strict reverse chronological sequence listing every job from the most recent to the last, group your experience under different headings. You can divide your career history by functions (marketing or sales, for example), or by industry (publishing or advertising, for example) depending on what’s most important from the job description, or what your strongest selling points are.

If you’ve had a series of short-term jobs — like this person in the forum — you can also group by time-frame.

Here’s a snippet of the advice:

“It’s a good idea to group together related short-term work experience. You can do it by time-frame (grouping together your nine months’ experience) or you could do it by theme. For example, all your copywriting/editing/journalism experience in one section (the first section in your work history, if you’re now applying for communications roles) and all your TV production experience in a different, second section.

“How you slice and dice your work experience is going to depend on what the job you apply for requires, so you can be flexible in how you present this information. Have a look at the job advert and work out what’s most important, then make sure this is prominent on your CV.

“Given that the length of time you spent in these most recent roles has been short, try and focus on what you achieved. Do you have any samples of your work you can point to — such as links to articles and content online? Can you beef up your CV with a couple of testimonials?”

Employers generally want to see reverse chronology, but if you’re returning to a sector you worked in previously, select a couple of achievements from this period and put them in a key achievements or career highlights section before your experience section — without including the dates. It doesn’t hide the fact that your most recent experience isn’t the most relevant, but it does show a successful track record in your targeted industry.

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