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  • Writer's pictureVincent Spruit

How recruiters look at your CV

Updated: Jun 26, 2023

If you like to understand how recruiters look at your CV, read the text underneath and use it to your advantage. I’ve managed dozens of recruiters over the last 12 years and worked side by side with hundreds more, mainly in the Dutch IT market. I know how recruiters think and how the game is played.

Let me explain, when my goal was to write down how a majority of recruiters work. Of course, there are also recruiters that actually take time to read your CV and between the lines. As a job seeker, you should hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

You’re looking for work, either active or passively, you most likely upload your CV to a job site or the website of a specific company. This means your CV will be added to a database with often thousands, but sometimes millions of CV’s. There are two likely scenarios to why you upload your CV:

1. You upload your CV because you hope that some recruiter or company will find you and contact you.

2. You upload your CV to a specific role because you hope to get selected for a job interview and if all goes well, start in the job.

For scenario 1

How likely is it that your CV will be found in the mix of thousands of CV’s? Databases work with a search engine like Google. Recruiters use the set information you filled in on the website (like branches, education, job title, years of experience, and work area) to narrow the result list. Then, they will make the search more specific by using “Boolean search terms” like AND, AND NOT and OR for finding specific methods or tools in your CV.

For example, I used these for a Data Analyst the other day: “Tableau AND Python”. The ideal list is 10 to 100 people. If the list is bigger, they will add search terms to make the list more specific.

If you want that recruiters look at your CV you should add a specific tool or method more often in your CV. Then you will have a bigger chance of getting on top of the result list. That is also where you want to be because a lot of times a recruiter stops searching after they find a good match. Even if it means a better match is just 1 page further. Just like with Google, most people do not take the time to go to the 2nd page if they found a good result on the 1st page.

Therefore, before writing up your CV you should have a clear goal of the job you want to have and write your CV specifically for that role. Define a few keywords that you like to be found by and make sure to add them several times in your CV. You can do this by naming them separately in every work experience.

For scenario 2

How much time recruiters initially look at your CV depends on how rare of a breed you are in the jobseekers market and how tight the job market is. If you have a hard time getting invited to an interview, it is probably because there is a lot of competition in jobseekers.

In this case, when recruiters look at your CV initially, they spend 1 to 2 minutes which is hardly enough to read everything. However, it is enough to quickly scan through your CV and see if you hit the fixed criteria in their list. If they get 100 replies to 1 role, they choose to work like this to manage their time “smarter”.

So what are the fixed criteria? It is often the job demands like:

· Education

· Number of years within a specific role

· Branch

· Location.

· Specific tools or methods.

Many times, recruiters start by using control “F” (Find) to search your CV for a specific tool. If you haven’t written that tool down, made a grammar error in writing it, or used a different name (like another version) your CV will be dismissed.

So always make sure that all the demands are written the same way in your CV as asked in the job profile. If the tool is written down many times in your CV then recruiters look at your CV more excited. You can also add them to your motivation. Just make sure to paste it in your CV, or it will be skipped over in the control F phase.

My goal was to write down how a majority of recruiters look at your CV. Of course, there are also recruiters that actually take the time to read your CV and read between the lines. As a job seeker, you should hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

Are you looking to improve your resume (CV)? Please feel free to use the guidelines I have attached to improve your CV.

And if you have an opinion about this article, I’d love to hear it. Please feel free to share it with me by leaving a comment or mail me at😊

CV Guidelines
Download PDF • 579KB
CV Guidelines_Dutch
Download PDF • 580KB

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1 Comment

Will Wadley
Will Wadley
May 08, 2021

Great article! Super helpful

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