What an employer is looking for in your CV?

When you’re applying for a job it’s fairly easy to understand what an employer is looking for because it should all be written in the job advert.

So what you actually need to think about is how you get an employer to find that information in your CV.

An employer can get loads of CV’s through and each one tends to be a couple of pages long. So as you can imagine, not all CV’s get read all the way through. If you want your CV to get read it has to be engaging within the first few seconds of being picked up.

First impressions really do count, so here are our insider tips to stop your CV failing the first glance test:

Format and length:

Good formatting and appropriate length are also key, so when you start writing your CV don’t leave the layout as an afterthought. Remember that even the most well written CV’s can be let down by poor presentation. Use an easy to read font and font size. Use bullet points, bold and underlines to help split out sections.

We suggest, from our experience, no more than 2 sides of A4 for your CV is the perfect length. And present it as a Word document or pdf so you are limiting issues with opening it.

What makes the cut?

The first page of your CV is always the most important. So think about what content makes the first page and what you can afford to have on your second page.

Key content:

If the job you’re applying for requires you to have very specific skills and you have those skills, make sure to get these into your CV. We suggest getting them into your profile as well as early on in your work experience so they don’t get missed by the reader.

Try and avoid writing a list of buzz words, they don’t mean much. For example, if the employer is looking for someone who ‘works well in a team’, saying  that you have demonstrated excellent team working skills when doing a specific project is more effective than writing ‘I’m a good team player’.


An employer needs to know as much about you as possible, as quickly as possible, so make sure you include a profile about yourself. Keep it short; sum up your work history, sector knowledge, key skills and experience. Approach it like it’s an advert to sell you. It’s the carrot to make someone want to read more.

Always tailor your profile to the job you are applying for.

Employment history:

The most important consideration for employers to easily read your CV is that it is presented in a logical order. Your most recent, or current job, should be at the top of your employment history. The dates should then all run on from each down the page. If there are any gaps in your employment history an employer will want to understand why? Don’t try and cover anything up.


Employers want to know what you’ve achieved, remember experience isn’t the same as achievements so think about including an achievements section on your CV. Keep the content relevant to the job though. It will help make dramatic difference to the power of your CV.  You will stand out as someone who cares about what you achieve at work, not just someone who does the job.

Check, check and check again:

The number one turn off for employers and recruiters is poor spelling and grammar. Regardless of the job role, it will definitely harm the progress of your application if your CV has mistakes in.

In today’s competitive job market, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors are considered inexcusable. Don’t rely on your computer’s spell check, it won’t always pick everything up. Remember this is your CV, you are selling yourself so read your CV, read it again and ask a friend or family member to read it. You may be overlooking an error or missing a mistake without even realising it.

Don’t hit send just yet:

Lastly, before you hit the send button, step back and read your CV one last time alongside the job description. Ask yourself if you have made it easy for a very busy person to get a good reflection of you and want to call you for an interview?

Fingers crossed

So there you have it, a well written Word document, two pages long and presented with a clear format and order, no grammatical errors and well thought out content. You have given yourself the best chance of success.

Good luck

PS. There is one last thing… some employers who are social media savvy, might have a nosey at you online before they invite you to interview, so make sure you have an excellent online presence! I’m mainly talking Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. If you wouldn’t show it to your granny, take it off the internet.

If you’d like us to have a look at your CV, email it over to us: hello@vanillarecruitment.co.uk