Is your CV underselling you?

It’s an unfortunate fact that CVs often don’t match the candidates who created them.

Wed, June 25th, 08:18


One of the topics often discussed by recruiters is the fact that the best candidates often have the worst CVs. While, at first, that sounds surprising it makes sense once you draw out the logic. Firstly, it’s important to note that in this instance, ‘worst’ doesn’t mean bad spelling or scattered structure. It means CVs that completely fail to communicate the quality of the candidate.

That’s where it starts to make sense. The most experienced or highly skilled candidates are usually candidates who haven’t found it difficult to find work in the past. They have either been working for the same company for years or have succeeded through a mix of word of mouth, talent or personality. Why would you have a good CV if you have never had to work at it?

You need an effective CV

The problem comes in when these candidates need to use a CV. If you have become accustomed to finding roles through recommendations or connections, you will find yourself creating a CV from scratch. No easy task if you’re trying to fit 10 or more years of success into one short document. A challenge that often leads to CVs that are lacking in detail, too broad in description or just way too long.

The fact is, recruiters rarely have time to look for the nuggets of truth in every single CV. For some roles, there are so many CVs and such little time that the only way to screen them all is to keyword search certain keywords and only read CVs that contain all of them. That leaves little or no room for the CV that was put together out of necessity by someone who hadn’t written one for 15 years.

No matter how experienced you are. No matter how highly you are valued in your current role. If a recruiter can’t see any of that, they can’t put you forward for an interview. In fact, they may not really see you at all.

Creating the best CV

If you have a wealth of experience but are finding it tough to get interviews, it may be your lack of CV writing experience that’s causing the problem. While keen eyed recruiters may be able to spot the bad CVs from the good candidates, it’s not always the case. You need to give yourself the best chance by creating the best CV you can.

Research best practice and compare it to your current CV. Use that learning to improve it as best you can. Make sure that you focus on your successes, rather than trying to squeeze in every last detail. Stick to bullet points but identify the keywords that recruiters are likely to be looking for.

Think about structure too, make it as easy as possible for recruiters to find your key attributes. Contact a recruiter and get their feedback on your CV. They won’t be able to rewrite it for you but they can advise you on how to make it better.

In essence a CV is a sales document. If you haven’t had to use one for a while, your CV may not be selling you as effectively. However, with a little work you can improve it and make sure that you’re not only the best candidate but have the best CV too.

Is your CV ready? Find your next role on our jobs board.

Eoin Keenan

The Irish Times