What recruiters want to see on a CV

Posted in Candidates

Posted by Joanne Caine
Published on 24 July, 2018

Keen to craft a knockout CV?

Ever wondered what recruiters are really looking for?

You have seconds to make an impact

As one of the West Country’s busiest recruitment consultancies, our staff read a small mountain of CVs every day. From wonderful to weird, we’ve seen it all – including one effort covered in photographs of lions. Hmm. Here are some inside tips on creating a CV that will wow your recruiter and score your name a place on the interview list.

The elements of a stunning CV

Write bullet points, not your life story

Writing a CV is an exercise in brevity. You need to communicate the stuff that matters – your achievements – using as few words as possible. Paragraphs and paragraphs of writing is not only unnecessary, it could hamper your chances of getting an interview. Use bullet points. Be concise. Get to the point. You recruiter doesn’t need to know what position you played in your primary school football team.

Focus on your achievements

It’s not about what you do, but what you’ve done.

Make it measurable

Quantify your achievements whenever possible. So you increased sales? Give a percentage. Reduced overheads? Put it in numbers. Employee of the month? State how many staff you were up against. Promoted twice? Say how long it took. You get the picture.

A logical structure

What do you think matters more, the GCSEs you studied ten years ago or what you achieved in your last job? Exactly. Frontload your CV with the most relevant information. And keep it brief. Your aim should be to make your impact in two pages, maximum three, any more is too much.

Education, education, education...

Speaking of education, there’s no need to list the specific GCSEs or A Levels you studied. “10 GCSEs – Grades A-C” is enough information. If you have been to university, include what you graduated with (2:1, 2:2 etc) as well as the name of the degree.

Consistent layout and font

Stick with simple fonts. Avoid too much fussing around with italics. Follow the same format from beginning to end. Oh and no decorations or fancy borders. Simple and clear wins the day. The easier it is for a recruiter to read your CV, the better.

Headers of roles and dates

When you are filling in your career history, don’t forget start and end dates as well as job titles and if you could fit a bus through gaps in your employment history, explain them. “Unemployed” doesn’t cut it. Explain the measures you took to find employment as well as any volunteering work, freelance achievements or extracurricular activity. An overview of the business sector/size is always helpful.

Don’t write about yourself in the third person

“At Furry Panda Inc, I increased sales by 25%.” You have our attention!

“At Furry Panda Inc, Georgie increased sales by 25%.” Georgie, please never contact us again.

Don’t use an unprofessional email address

You need to include your email address on your CV. But if it’s something like or, now’s the time to bag yourself something more professional. For a few quid you could even purchase a domain address for your name – and get web hosting that offers email addresses. How about as your email address? Much better.

Watch your language...

Spelling mistakes and grammar gaffes are a serious no no. If you are unsure, ask someone else to check it over. Or grab a dictionary.

There’s no need to include a photo

We are sure your mugshot oozes charm, charisma and professionalism. But seriously, a photo is not necessary unless you are applying for a supermodel role.

Adapt your CV to the role

An up to date CV is one thing. But to really stand out, tweak your CV based on the type of job you are applying for. Some achievements may not be relevant, others may grow in importance once you have read the job ad. If you have the experience the recruiter is looking for, make sure it stands out.

You wouldn’t believe the things we’ve seen...

Our staff spill the beans on some of the fruitier CVs they’ve seen. Sometimes being memorable isn’t a good thing...


Recruitment Consultant – Office Division

I once saw a CV where the front cover featured a photograph of two lions with speech bubbles added. The lions were having a conversation about why we should hire the applicant.

Jo Howell

Senior Consultant – Accountancy Division

I once had a CV from a candidate that listed the ability to “bench press 180kgs” and “lovemaking positions” under hobbies and interests. Not really what clients want to see.



“Massaging women’s bodies” is the best thing I have ever seen listed under hobbies on a CV. And by best, I mean worst.

Over to you! And if you are looking for somewhere to send your CV? Try us!

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Managing Director

I joined Cathedral Appointments in 1998 to cover a maternity leave and never left. I now own the business and love my job. I've a great team of consultants who work with me in ensuring that Cathedral Appointments provide an excellent service to candidates and clients alike.

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What recruiters want to see on a CV

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