What is a Recruiter looking for when they screen applicants’ CVs?
How can you ensure they see what they need to in your application?

Our HR team share some tips on this topic with you. (And at the bottom on the this blog, you’ll find helpful weblinks to other FREE media with tips and advice on this topic.)

“The most important thing I look for when checking an applicant’s CV for a job vacancy is: does their work-experience and career trajectory match what is needed to do the job (as detailed in the job description)?

For example, if a Business Analyst job requires a minimum of 3 years previous experience then I need to see on your CV at least 3 years of recent experience as a Business Analyst.

Also, it’s important that your work experience in the required role is current or recent, as opposed to something you did several years ago.

These are the first and most important things I look for in a CV.

Next, I’ll check your tenure in the jobs you’ve had and at the companies you’ve worked. In other words, how long have you worked in each of your previous jobs?

For example, if you’ve done 3 years in a role at a particular company then it gives me confidence in you and that you’ll stay a decent amount of time with us if we hire you. Whereas if you’re moving in and out of lots of jobs after only  a few months (or anything less than a year) then it makes me question why you’re ‘job hopping’ so much (unless there’s a good reason, like it was all contract based work for example).”

Thato

Don’t apply for EVERY job you see. It can be frustrating for Recruiters and you risk compromising your credibility as a candidate, especially if you don’t have the required skills or qualifications for the role. You might get noticed, but it won’t be in a good way.

Linda

“It’s important that you use clear and correct Job Titles for the work experience on your CV, as well as helpful short bullet points summarising what your work involved – so that I can see quickly if it’s relevant for the job you’re applying for.

For people who don’t have relevant work experience for the jobs or career they aspire to apply for, then you’re unlikely to be successful if more experienced candidates apply for the same role. You need to make a plan to get more experience, whether by volunteering in the sort of work you want or doing further studies or an internship or participating in activities that will give you the needed experience.

If you just apply for jobs you aren’t qualified for but never make a plan to develop some of the needed skills and experience then it’s unlikely you’ll ever be successful in your application.”

Thato

When writing your CV, it will help the Recruiter if you list only the key performance areas for any job you’ve done and don’t include more than your last 3 most recent jobs.”

Linda

Location is important. Since 2020 it’s become more normal to work remotely, but you will still need to attend the office (especially for a collaborative culture) –  so you still need to be in the local area. Also, since 2020 you might need to be set-up at home so you can work remotely (as well as attend the office), which might be something that affects your success when applying for remote-work job opportunities.

I’d advise not to apply for a job if you don’t live within commuting distance. This distance may vary depending on if you only work a day or two per week in the office versus 4 or 5 days.

When assessing your commute remember it makes a difference if you use public transport versus a car, so check how long the commute will take depending on which mode of transport you use.

And I look to see if candidates meet the minimum requirements for the role, whether it’s their previous work experience or skills and qualifications.

It isn’t helpful to provide additional information, certificates or media that aren’t directly relevant for the job you’re applying for (or that haven’t been asked for by the company in the application form).”

Candice

For some ‘don’ts’ when applying and things Recruiters aren’t looking for:

In your application, whether it’s your CV or Cover Letter, you don’t need to include: your picture (of you, nor of your family); what religion you are (if any); whether you smoke (or not); nor every training course you’ve ever attended (rather include only what’s relevant for the job your applying for) and only include your highest completed education qualification.”

Linda

You don’t need to include all your References’ info and contact details when applying (unless a company specifically asks for it). You can just mention you have references and can provide their details upon request.”

Candice

So to recap on what Recruiters look for and need from you when you apply for a job:

“Recruiters look for various things when screening CVs and assessing candidates, usually in the following order of importance: 

  • Your current and previous work experience,
  • Your skills and qualifications,
  • If you’re a culture fit for the organisation,
  • Learning aptitude, character and personality. 

This is because we’re all human beings with lots of dimensions to each of us. 

Recruiters are trying to find the best ‘fit’ for the job. 

If you have the right experience and qualifications and attitude then Recruiters want you to succeed in your application!”

Thato