When hiring a new employee, what should you be looking for in a CV? Following on from our interview tips for potential employees, we asked Managing Director of Triggertrap Mat Rodger what he looks for in a prospective employee's CV.
What are 5 essentials for you that other hiring managers should look for?
- Good grammar, spelling.
- Clear, legible layout.
- Only relevant experience – should have been tailored for the job they’re applying for.
- Employment history, education, relevant training and experience. Not much else needed.
- Contact details, again, should be clear and legible. And no, I don’t need your National Insurance number or the name of your favourite football team here.
What are some instant red flags hiring managers should be aware of?
Anything that looks generic or copy-and-pasted. If they can’t be bothered creating a bespoke cover letter and CV, they can’t care much about the job. Ditto spelling and grammar – typos suggest lack of effort and poor attention to detail.
For me, also, a lack of any work experience (i.e. recent graduates who never worked part time in a shop when they were 16) is a big red flag. Suggests they won’t know anything about responsibility, accountability, how to work for a boss, all that stuff.
Should hiring managers be too worried about CV design in your industry?
I hate wacky CVs. Keep it simple, stick to the facts.
What do you think makes someone stand out?
I think there’s a lot of things that will make someone stand out. Usually for me it’s having done something that required a lot of initiative/bravery – like starting your own company or making a big career change.
Hobbies are definitely less interesting (I don’t care if you did Tough Mudder and enjoyed Breaking Bad), unless they’re super relevant to the job. Maybe you invented an Arduino-based computer in your spare time? Cool – you’re a nerdy hacker and maybe just the sort of person I want.
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What are major off putters for your industry specifically CV-wise?
Not too concerned about lack of industry-specific knowledge, but depends on the role. I’d be surprised if people don’t have LinkedIn accounts. Also, if you’re applying for a social media/marketing/PR role, I’d be put off if you didn’t have active Twitter, Instagram etc accounts I can see too.
How long is too long for a CV in your industry?
I get bored after 2 pages of A4.
Additional thoughts and advice?
Some CVs I receive make me wonder about the quality of careers advice young people are given in schools and colleges. There seems to be a generation of people who’ve been told that employers want to know your “likes and dislikes” or get a sense of your creativity by printing your CV on a cake or something.
I’ve seen some TERRIBLE CVs, some seemingly made on MS Paint (giant picture of applicant covered in stickers and Comic Sans qualifications). We also had one guy ship us an actual camera, with an SD card full of photographs of him holding up signs saying “HIRE ME!”. Different, sure (and somewhat clever in that him coming to pick it up was a way of arranging a meeting) but mostly just a bit try-hard and pointless. What did that actually tell us about him? What job did that qualify him for?