• Taryn

What Employers Want: CVs/Resumes

What Employers Want CVs and Resumes Title Graphic

Having taken my fair share of job rejections over the years, as well as having received a complete lack of response to many job applications, I got my CV down to a fine art which:

  • Resulted in a much higher response rate from potential Employers,

  • Resulted in far more interviews, and

  • Made it easier to get the jobs that I wanted.

At first glance of a CV, Employers want to see two things:

  1. Brevity: Employers are busy. Be respectful. Anything longer than 2-3 pages and you risk your CV being thrown in the (digital) bin.

  2. Clarity: A close cousin of brevity. Once you've written your CV, review it.

> Spelling and grammar mistakes are unacceptable. Not all of us are spelling geniuses, sure, but the lack of a spell-check and editing service is simple laziness.

> Is the information you've provided short, sharp and direct? Or is someone going to fall asleep reading about every thought process you went through before deciding to quit your Engineering degree at University to become a professional chocolate taster?

> Or, worse, are they going to wonder if it's even English? (Click here to read my blog post on Proofreading and Editing, to see a perfect example of the issues that content readability can present.)

> Ask yourself if all of the words and information you've written is necessary, and if you've explained yourself clearly. Remove or shorten content, where possible.

> Read it back to yourself out loud. If it doesn't sound right verbally, then it's not going to sound right in someone's head either.

> Have a friend or family member look over it. Sometimes another set of eyes, or a different perspective, will pick up on things that you may otherwise miss.

The content itself needs to cover off five main points:

  1. Who you are and your contact details: This should be the very first thing documented on your CV, so that the Employer knows how to contact you should they like what they're reading!

  2. What you do: Current or most recent employment.

  3. What you've done: Any previous jobs in which you have gained relevant or transferrable skills and experience.

  4. What your skills (not experience, skills) are i.e. Can you type faster than housewives running to a Briscoes sale? Or, are you an Excel Magician? (Pro tip: Keep it job relevant.)

5. Who is willing to back you up: References. (Pro tip: Previous Employers, or University Professors if you're fresh out of Uni. Not ya Mum, or ya bestie.)

Your CV should leave no uncertainty as to why you're the best person for the role the Employer is advertising for, and how you're going to be an asset to their business.

This may not be specifically noted on your CV, but indirectly implied by the information included.

For example, the CV of a proficient Chocolate Taster documenting 60 years of experience in the chocolate industry isn't going to assure a potential Employer at Nasa that you're the best person to design new state of the art rockets for them.

Carefully consider the roles you're applying for. And know your strengths.

Final Tips:

  • Keep in mind that document design/layout is just as important as content. As is negative space on a document, to enable the eye and brain to more easily digest information.

  • That being said, a CV is a professional document. It's not your chance to show your prospective Employer what your favourite colour is, what your favourite font is, or how good you are at using PowerPoint.

  • What you love to do in your spare time, and what you want to achieve over the next ten years, should remain in your Cover Letter, unless you are very skilled at writing short, punchy Executive Summaries (which should be included at the start of your CV).

  • If you're including a Cover Letter with your CV/Resume, make sure it is no longer than one page in length. Again, no one wants to hear your life story while reviewing applications, and Cover Letters are no exception.

  • Keep. It. Simple.

  • Keep. It. Relevant.

More resources:



Stay tuned for future blog posts covering off how to shorten the content in your CV, and what to include in your Cover Letter.

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Until next time...

- Taryn