Top 6 things to look for when reading a CV

Yael Warman

“People write what they know you want to read and have people check it over for them, in addition it’s hard to distinguish BS in CVs so you need to learn to read between the lines” – Jordana Shapiro, HR Manager, Leverate

By Jordana Barkats, HR Manager, Leverate

You can receive tens, even hundreds of CVs for an open position. Having a lot of interested candidates is fantastic, but how do you decide who to bring in for an interview based on their CV? If once you’ve read a resume you find the pertinent info, you will choose well, interview relevant candidates and hire the right person If on the other hand however, you don’t know how to screen people based on their CV, you can spend hours interviewing people who are not relevant or even risk missing the perfect candidate. Although there is no foolproof method for assessing people via their CV, there are some guidelines.

I’ve read thousands of resumes throughout my career and as the gatekeeper of the company, my role is to make sure I’m doing the best screening possible. Yet, CV screening is really challenging. Why is it so hard to screen people properly based on their resume?

Leverate;s HR Manager Jordana Barkats and Andrew Saks-McLeod discuss hiring the best talent in FinTech

Firstly, people write what they know you want to read and have people check it over for them, in addition it’s hard to distinguish BS in CVs so you need to learn to read between the lines. It is also common to focus on things that are impressive but not predictive of future job performance like Ivy League schools or GPA.

Lastly, people are not methodological when reading CVs; your mood, whims or the CV you read right before, can affect whether you accept or reject a candidate. That is why it is worthwhile to be methodological and to know what to focus on when reading resumes.

Here are some top things to look for in CVs that have been shown to be predictive of future performance and some general tips. Generally, experienced recruiters look at a resume for 6 seconds, I suggest you take a bit longer…

1.Spelling and Formatting

This may sound minor, but in a large internal study of applicants to Google, it was found that people’s attention to detail in their resume is one of the strongest predictors of important qualities such as their professionalism, care and attention to detail in their work. Here are some of the things to look for: typos, inconsistencies in punctuation like periods at the end of some of the bullet points or spacing, misspellings, consistent size of indentations and line breaks, consistent capitalization and tense in English.

2. Top Companies

If this person worked for a top company, this shows a couple things: one, that they were hired by passing through the top company’s rigorous selection process and two that they learned best practices at their former company which they will bring to your workplace.

3.Time Spent in Previous Workplaces

Ideally candidates should have 2+ years of experience at workplaces, that’s a decent amount of time to bring value to an organization after the first year of acclimation and training. Leaving one position after a year or less isn’t ideal but is manageable, however if it’s more than one position it may be a more serious problem. If the candidate “hopped” from workplace to workplace don’t expect them to suddenly become loyal. However if the candidate looks amazing on all other fronts then you should investigate into what happened, there’s a big difference if the companies they worked for closed vs. if they were terminated vs. if they are always looking for the next best thing.

4.Keywords / Clarity

Is their writing of their responsibilities professional? Is it clear what they actually did? Do you understand their strong skill set? Do they use industry language and keywords? Clear and concise use of industry terms is an indicator of their experience, however if they write too much or overuse keywords and jargon to the point where it’s hard to understand what they really did, consider that a point against them.


People love to write catch-phrases like “team player”, “leader”, “problem solver” etc. but without any facts, it is just fluff. What you want to see on a resume are facts, for example “doubled sales from x to y in z months”, “increased audience reach by 30%”, “managed the top-performing team” and so on. Clear achievements are meaningful and are good predictors of future performance in your workplace.

6.Be Open-Minded

Once you have a job description it is easy to go by the book and drop very intelligent or talented candidates because they lack a certain skill you want or have one year of experience less then what you defined. Great people can learn fast and make a much greater long term contribution to your organization than average people that fit you job description perfectly. If you offer someone significant career growth, they will work hard to prove themselves and be loyal and grateful for the opportunity.

In addition to the above, you may want to check an applicant’s social media or shared contacts to verify facts and receive additional data about the candidate. Good luck and happy hiring.

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