HR Excellence Awards 2023 Singapore
5 things to look out for in a CV

5 things to look out for in a CV


With AI rightly being hailed as an indispensable time-saving tool in the handling of a large volume of CVs, there simply comes a time when the HR manager has to roll up his or her sleeves and apply the human touch.

Here are five key tips when undertaking this essential but exacting process.

Is the cover letter overrated?

“Recruiters don’t read them when it’s obvious that they’re just cut and pasted. A succinct couple of sentences relevant to the particular job is much more effective,” says Joss Godbold, regional director of recruitment firm Page Executive.

“I’ve read hundreds of cover letters and almost every person writes the same thing: ‘proactive’, ‘team player’, ‘conscientious’,” observes Godbold.

“It may be the first thing you see but the cover letter is becoming less relevant,” he adds.

Spelling matters

While the significance of spelling grammar varies somewhat, a sloppy CV will land in the ‘no’ pile of many recruiters.

“It’s a minor point, but in a market where most of my colleagues are receiving at least 100 applications for any role, the little things can make a big difference,” explains Godbold.

He estimates that up to 10% of CVs that he sees on his desk contain spelling mistakes.

“Often the mistake is right next to a statement talking about how strong they are on attention to detail,” he adds.

Do qualifications really matter?

If the recruiter is screening for technical and professional positions, then the answer is clearly yes.

But seasoned recruiters also point out that in many cases its best not to be too rigid about the selection criteria. It could be a costly mistake to overlook someone for a particular role just because they don’t have a tertiary qualification.

“Be careful about writing off someone based on particular selection criteria. You might be missing out on a gem,” she says.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates, for example, became the world’s richest college drop-out when he drove the success of his IT company to the very top – without a degree.

Does the timeline make sense?

The timeline in a CV – the so-called narrative – of someone’s working life can reveal a story about a candidate, Godbold observes.

During the interview, if there are a lot of jumps in a CV with significant gaps between roles, he asks the candidate to elaborate on the reasons.

“It’s always going to be difficult for a candidate to hide that and they need to have reasons why. If they’ve had four roles in the last three years, that’s not good. But if they’re all contract roles, it starts to make a bit more sense.” Godbold says.

Just how important is the CV anyway?

“Fifteen years ago, the résumé was 90% of the process – now it's 30-50% of the process,” says Godbold.

“For example, the way an online profile looks is important, including the quality of the profile photo.”

Social media has become an important part of the screening process.

It’s always worth taking a look at the candidate’s Instagram and Facebook pages. And also a quick Google search of at the screening stage is also a must – to unearth any potential nasty surprises.

Parts of this article were first published on the seek website.

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