How to evaluate a CV

Magnifying glassI’ve recently been involved in reviewing the CV’s of some marketing apprentice candidates for a major social housing provider, plus the March assignment for the CIM Intro Cert asks students to evaluate CV’s so I thought I’d share my thoughts on what makes a good one.

As a hiring manager it’s a good idea to make a checklist of what you are looking for before you delve into a pile of CV’s but as a rule you should look out for the following:

Clear, concise communication of the candidate’s work experience and educational history along with:

  • Personal details including name, address and phone number
  • Skills such as computer literacy levels, driving licence and languages
  • Interests
  • The names of two people who can give references.

Details about work experience should be in chronological order with the name of the employer, a descriptor of the organisation’s activities and the dates the candidate was employed there.   Details should include key achievements during employment rather than simply listing the elements of the job specification.

A similar approach should be taken with educational history.   As a hiring manager you may want to have in mind the level of qualification you expect the candidates to have, before you read their CV’s.  For example a Masters graduate applying for very junior position may not feel right, and by the same token, an applicant for a directorship with no qualifications higher than GCSE’s may not be quite what you are looking for either.

Spot on spelling, punctuation and grammar and a consistent approach to the presentation of information.  If a candidate doesn’t use a spell-check you may infer that they don’t have the attention to detail that marketer’s need.

Phrases like ‘I am a good team player’ should be evidence based, for example ‘I was part of a team that achieved xxx, and my role in this was xxx’.  Also keep an eye out for use of ‘I’ not ‘We’, as the CV is about the individual’s achievements not the team’s. 

Finally, the CV should be targeted for the job the candidate is applying for and should preferably be no longer than 2 sides of A4.

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