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How Recruiters Flip through your CV in 7 Seconds

On average, a single job advert prompts over 150 applications, depending on the position and industry. Jobs like accounting and sales can attract over 300 CVs sent to the recruiter for a particular position.

Out of necessity and the need to cater for staffing needs in time, human resource professionals have mastered the art of CV reading by quickly skimming through CVs to ascertain who fits their preferred candidate profile and who doesn’t. This is the shortlisting stage that determines whether or not your application gets considered.

The secret is ensuring that as an applicant, you master all the areas that recruiters look for and customize your CV to cover these areas in a way that makes you stand out. The areas are highlighted below;


CV Format

If your CV format is complicated and needs translating or explaining, you will keep waiting for that interview call in vain. Your CV format should be simple, easy on the eye and void of clatter and unnecessary information.


CV Sections

When a potential employer looks at your CV, their eyes rush over your name, email address, qualifications, and previous work experience.

Ensure that these sections are on the first page of your CV. In the work experience section, it is wise to quote the period of time you were with a certain company. Also in work experience, do not list your job description, rather list your achievements in that role and how you helped your department attain its goals.


Role Titles

The potential employer will go over your previous job roles looking to see your relevance to the current position they are looking to fill, and your career growth over the years. Ensure that you state your previous titles clearly.



Your potential employer will be highly interested in knowing how long you lasted with your previous employers. It is wise to separate the permanent jobs from the part-time ones to avoid the illusion of job-hopping tendencies.


Little obvious things

Your CV is the first shot you get at creating a first impression. Your potential employer expects that you invested ample time in writing it. Issues like typos, bad grammar, poor formatting and wordy sentences are a turn off to anyone reading your CV.


2016 BM Brand Manual-17

So, how can you make your CV stand out?

If the pointers above are taken care of, you have greater chances of getting shortlisted. So how do you ensure that you are called for the interview? The answer to this is showing your potential employer that you are the solution to the business problems they face.

To do this, step into the human resource manager’s shoes and imagine what you would like in a candidate. Go through their website and use the information there to help you identify their possible business needs and headaches. Use this to draft your skills and achievements. Talk about achievements like cutting costs, increasing customer satisfaction, improving team dynamics in your department, increased sales or minimised errors. If you can add percentages to these achievements, you further increase your chances of moving up the shortlist rank.

These accomplishments should be the first thing the potential employer sees after your personal details. Do away with the cliché career objective and replace it with professional accomplishments. That will have more impact than a tired objective that no one reads.

Make your CV easy to read, grab the attention of the human resource personnel reading it and compel them to discover what a valuable addition you would be to their team.


Mueke Katwa
I have two years experience in Business Support which covers Human Resource as a function; and a lifelong passion in creative writing.
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