30 Seconds on the Clock: Is This CV Good Enough?

Bayt.com, Contributor, Feb 13 2018

When hiring for a company, looking at CVs is unavoidable. Oftentimes, reviewing a significant number of CVs can be frustrating, especially if it is not easy to find the precise information you’re looking for quickly so you can move the hiring process forward. It becomes even more complicated when you only have thirty seconds to spare for each CV because of the applicants piling up in your inbox.

To help you judge a good CV in under a minute, Bayt.com, the Middle East’s leading job site, has prepared a CV scanning guide. Here are a few things to look for that can expedite the CV-screening process:

CV Layout

A CV’s layout is extremely important for employers. Looking at any document that is not properly formatted and organized can be very disorienting and waste your valuable time. So, from a quick glance, there should be a few essential elements that can show whether a CV deserves a full read or not. Some of these items include the applicant’s career objective, experience and contact information.

There are other things to look for, but if you have a hard time finding these sections, then you know it’s time to move to the next CV in the pile.

Career Objective

A candidate’s career objective should be the first main section in a candidate’s CV, right after their personal contact information. You can consider the career objective an introduction to your candidate, the type of experience they have, the skills they possess, and their career trajectory.

A candidate’s career objective should show what they can bring to your organization, and how hard they’re willing to work to reach their end goals. Furthermore, the candidate’s previous experience, as well as any skills they possess, should be aligned to the requirements of your vacancy. You’ll be able to quickly tell if the candidate’s previous experience and future plans are truly relevant to your vacancy or not.

Work Experience

So, you’ve gotten this far in a CV and you’re quite hopeful about the candidate. Then, you see something that surprises you. The first work experience depicted in the CV occurred in 2012-2014. At this point, you’re might be reluctant to hire a candidate that hasn’t worked a steady job in the past few years. But, as you read along, you discover that this candidate has gotten everything backwards, and the next listed experience occurred during 2014-2016.

A common rule of CV writing is that all professional work experience must be stated in a reverse chronological manner, from the most recent to the oldest. If you are looking at a CV that has the work experience ordered correctly, it’s time to dig deeper into what your applicant has done at their previous jobs. The first thing to look for is a detailed representation of what their job tasks were, their responsibilities, and any significant accomplishments they have accumulated.

A simple job title that’s stuck next to a previous employer’s name is not enough, even if it sounds fancy. Unfortunately, some applicants fall into the trap of copying what’s written in their job description and pasting it verbatim onto their CV. Firstly, as an employer, you are most likely going to be aware of what their job description will include just by reading their job title. Secondly, you’re probably not particularly interested in the generic tasks performed by your applicant. In order to find a truly qualified candidate who will go above and beyond in performing their job, you’ll need to know what they performed, achieved, grew, and added to their previous company beyond the minimum requirements.

Look for keywords that match your core skills and qualifications, look for numbers and quantitative values, and look for indications of growth.   

Details like these will help immensely in evaluating how good a CV really is. Remember that you’ll need to later on verify some of the details such as the dates of employment, specific job titles, and names of previous employers. This can be done during the initial screening phases, such as the phone interview.


Let’s assume that you’re hiring a graphic designer. In their career objective, they’ve stated that they have experience in designing social media visuals, fancy PDFs, and brilliant presentations. They also stated that they’re currently looking to work in a dynamic environment that will help them become even more creative and add value to the organization.

In their work experience, you can see they’ve worked in marketing agencies and production houses. But, so far, you still have no indication of their technical skills. The vacant position requires someone who is knowledgeable in Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. Competency in these programs should be found under a candidate’s technical skills, so that you truly gauge what they’re capable of and how much value they can bring to your company.

The next order of business is soft skills. While many CVs neglect adding technical skills, the majority of CVs you read will have a long list of soft skills with the exact same wording: Excellent communication skills, a team player and, works well under stress.

While wording alone is no reason to doubt an applicant’s skills, you should still be cautious with this section. If after reading through their career objective, their work experience, and their job tasks, you don’t feel like they’ve had the experience to develop and apply the skills they claim to have, then you’re probably right to have reasonable doubts.

Educational Background

To some employers, educational background may not be as important as work experience. But, for others, and especially for entry-level jobs, the vacancy at hand may require knowledge that’s only acquired through learning. And, just like work experience is stated from most recent to oldest, the same should ideally apply to education.

If you’re thinking of looking for a GPA or an overall average, you might not always find it because some job seekers avoid including it for different reasons. But, what you could look for instead is academic accomplishments. This includes things such as merits, certificates, and awards. This information will give you an idea of how motivated and hardworking your candidate was during their learning phase of life, and this will most likely reflect on how well they’ll perform if they were to land the job.

Another aspect to consider is learning outside the formal education. Looking at extra courses, internships, workshops, and such can signify that the candidate is truly interested in growing and developing as a professional.

Because technology is ever evolving, the world of hiring has been forced to keep up with the times. At Bayt.com, we understand how valuable those 30 seconds you spend looking at each CV are, which is why we’ve built advanced technologies that can greatly facilitate this process. Whether you’re looking to expedite writing job descriptions, increase the effectiveness of your job postings, or streamline your CV scanning and search efforts, the technologies are all here for you.


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