What do recruiters look for from potential candidates?

Based on the results of a Corporate Executive Board of America survey, five recommendations for candidates have emerged.

Thu, June 20th, 14:16


In a recent roundtable survey of 8,500 recruiters and HR managers from several thousand worldwide companies, 15% of respondents revealed that less than half of candidates are qualified for the role they are applying for. The research was conducted by the Corporate Executive Board of America and their results provide a revealing insight into today’s recruitment landscape. This means that 85% of applicants fail to meet the minimum job requirements.

Additionally, the data showed that given the considerable volume of applications being received by recruiters, 75% of them will spend a maximum of five minutes reading CVs and cover letters. In fact, 28% of those surveyed spent less than two minutes sifting through them. For many jobseekers, such reports may make for frustrating reading; today’s job market is certainly a competitive environment. However by learning to understand the needs of a recruiter, candidates can dramatically improve their job seeking prospects.

Based on the results of this survey, five recommendations for candidates have emerged.

Question your suitability: Only apply for positions where you meet the majority of the minimum qualifications and criteria. Applying for roles you are not suited for is a waste of both the recruiter’s time and your own.

Tailor your CV: Prior to making your application, make sure that you have sufficiently customised your CV and cover letter to the job for which you are applying.  Nowadays it is a necessity to include keywords in your CV in order to ensure that the email search filter can more readily discover your application amongst the heap. You will find such suitable keywords within the job description for the role.

Demonstrate your experience during the interview: When it comes to interviews, recruiters recommend that candidates have prepared specific examples of their previous experience. A common request made by an interviewer is for a candidate to talk about some of the challenges they faced in previous jobs and how they overcame them.

Read the job description carefully: This one sounds pretty obvious but you may be surprised to learn just how many times recruiters complain that a candidate has failed to adequately read the job description. Because of this, they fail to fully understand the needs of the role and what the employer is looking for.

Proofreading is critical: It is strongly advised that you have a second pair of eyes look over your CV. It is important to note that spelling and grammatical errors will almost certainly disqualify your application. Recruiters and hiring managers have zero tolerance for such simple mistakes. Ensure that you have produced an error free CV.

Dave Cullen

The Irish Times