The 3 things an employer wants to see on your CV

Writing a great CV is all about balancing what the employer is looking for with not providing too much detail that you put the reader to sleep. There are certain things an employer wants to see on a CV if you want to stand any chance of getting an interview, and if just one of these things is missing you are going to be instantly rejected.

To help ensure you don’t miss one of these vital aspects, check your CV for these three important details:

(1) That you have the right qualifications and/or skills 

For a job seeker, the job market is such a fierce and competitive industry that sometimes it makes sense to just apply for as many jobs as you can to see what happens. Although we would always recommend not doing this, it’s quite understandable that when the going gets tough, you have to try anything just to survive.

The problem for employers is that they can be inundated with CVs that are not up to the standard they require. Having to read through so many CVs from underqualified candidates is a frustrating and time consuming process, which is why we would always advise a job seeker to focus their time and efforts onto just a handful of opportunities that they are either fully qualified for, or at the very least are just lacking in a couple of areas which would typically not be a problem.

One of the first things an employer wants to see on your CV is the right skills, qualifications and experience. Not every box has to be ticked from the job advert, but there will always be something which the manager deems is mandatory. If you are vastly underqualified for a role, then don’t apply. You are wasting your time and the company’s, which could be better spent writing a fantastic CV for a job you are ready to transition in to. 

(2) That you have attention to detail 

You could have qualifications coming out your ears, but if your CV looks shabby or contains mistakes, you could already be staring rejection in the face. Don’t be overconfident and assume your amazing set of skills and experience will get you an interview anywhere. With the ever increasing amount of help and advice online, employers are now seeing a huge rise in the quality of CVs.

Your CV has to be exceptionally well presented, and include all the sections an employer would expect to see. Any kind of sloppiness could mean rejection when squaring off against other applicants with a flawless application, and just as many qualifications as you.

The worst thing you can do is to list “attention to detail” or “detail oriented” on your resume, then have typos, spelling/grammar errors, or formatting problems. The best thing to show attention to detail is to have a perfectly clean resume, i.e., no typos, no inconsistent formatting, no errors of any type.

~ Joe Homan, COO, 35 years consulting, adjunct professor

Most job seekers now use ready made CV templates that can be found online, to ensure their details look modern, fresh, and in-line with the industry they’re applying for. If you haven’t used a CV template before, you’re in for a big surprise. There are literally hundreds to choose from, and some are even job/industry specific. See page one and page two of our CV template collection for hundreds of professionally designed free templates.

(3) That you care 

If you don’t really care about the job and the company but you’re instead focused upon the salary and the benefits, this will likely show in your CV and not make for a great read. There are various ways to show that you care.

Tailor your CV

A CV that shows a lack of care is likely to be a generic one – but what do we mean by generic? One of the biggest mistakes a job seeker makes is to write one CV that goes out to many different employers. This is a huge mistake, and your generic CV will be an instant turn off to a hiring manager who’s looking for a passionate and dedicated candidate.

Always tailor your CV to each role, even if you’re applying for the same job title. There will always be, at the very least, subtle differences between each company – no matter how similar the roles are. In some cases you might just need to make small adjustments to your CV, and in other scenarios you may have to make drastic changes or even write a brand new one.

In this video, recruiter and interview coach Margaret Buj explains more about tailoring your CV to a particular role and how this can land you more interviews:

Conduct research

To show that you care about the role you will need to conduct research on the company to find out what’s important to them. Before you write your CV you should have a full understanding of their product/service and their customers. Try researching:

  • Their website.
  • Their social profiles.
  • If they’re a listed company, their annual reports and RNS updates.

Find out more from Kristen Fischer in her article, ‘How To Research a Potential Employer’.

Scrutinise the job description

Care can also be demonstrated by fully acknowledging the job description so you can ensure your CV highlights the skills, qualifications and experience that the individual employer is looking for.

The hiring manager should not have to read through your generic CV and put it together like a jigsaw puzzle to see if you are the right person for the job. Everything within your CV has to be completely relevant, and only focus upon what the company has deemed to be important.

Make sure your cover letter shows the same level of personalisation and attention to detail – see: ‘How to write a winning cover letter – what to include‘.

About Martin Carline

Martin has been a senior manager of a large customer service team within the education services industry, dealing with all aspects of staff recruitment and management. He now authors and manages content for CV Template Master and a number of other leading websites. In his spare time, Martin is an accomplished pianist and teaches all styles with a particular focus on boogie woogie and blues.

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