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5 Questions To Ask When Reviewing A CV

By Amy @BubbleJobs

Whether you’re new to the recruitment industry or an old pro, reviewing CVs can be extremely time-consuming, boring and confusing – particularly if none of the candidates look right on first glance.

Now, while the task of reviewing CVs might be easy for anyone that’s been in the recruitment industry for years and knows exactly what they should be on the look-out for in terms of Dos and Don’ts, for everyone else, particularly anyone from a start-up that’s never dealt with recruitment before,  it can be a stressful affair, particularly if there’s pressure to recruit a new candidate by an allotted date.

With that in mind, I thought I’d highlight the five key questions you need to ask yourself when you’re reviewing candidate CVs for any role, not just in the digital sector.

1. How Relevant Is Their Work History To Your Role/Business?

The first and most obvious question you need to ask is how relevant their wok history is to your particular vacancy and your business overall. Consider if they’ve worked in a similar role before, if they’ve worked in a more junior role but have the skills and experience needed to step up or if they’ve worked in a different role eg. copywriting – but now have the skills they need to cross over into a different niche eg. social media.

On this point, I’d say it’s worth keeping an open mind and not discounting a candidate if they haven’t actually worked in the role you’re advertising before – remember, everyone needs the opportunity to progress – and there’s a possibility that they might end up being a better candidate than someone who has experience in that role because they’re keen to progress and may have more of an open mind.

When we’re talking about relevancy, it’s also important to consider the key skills that are listed on the candidate’s CV and how these might be able to benefit your business, not just at the moment but in the future too.

2. Has It Been Tailored For Your Vacancy?

When reviewing a CV, it’s worth keeping an eye out for any signs that the candidate has tailored their CV for your particular vacancy and business – this shows commitment to the role and shows they haven’t just sent you the same CV they’ve sent everyone else. Keep an eye out for mentions of your brand, references to wanting to work for a company like yours in their personal profile and any key skills that you’ve mentioned in your job advert that they have on their CV.

3. Is There A Clear Route Of Progression/Does Their CV Tell A Story?

A great CV should show a clear route of progression and should tell a story of where the candidate started from (eg. their degree/education/first job) to where they are now. Look out for a solid career path which has no unexplained employment gap and which shows how the candidate has progressed and grown throughout their career. If there are gaps in their work history and there’s no explanation on their CV or in their cover letter, I wouldn’t necessarily advise you to dismiss the candidate – but I would suggest you bear it in mind and quiz the candidate about it if you choose to interview them.

If their CV doesn’t show a clear career path, it might be worth taking a closer look at their CV or cover letter to see if they can explain why they’ve switched careers or why their career path isn’t so clear cut. Remember, everyone’s entitled to change careers… but alarm bells should ring if every job they’ve had has been in a different industry because it suggests the candidate could be quite indecisive and non-committal.

4. Are There Any Typos/Mistakes?

This one’s a biggie – you need to look out for any spelling mistakes, typos and just general errors that may be a present on the candidate’s CV. Why? Because in today’s age of spellcheckers, there’s no really no excuse for mistakes like this… and it suggests the candidate is a bit careless and doesn’t have a great attention for detail… not ideal if you’re recruiting for a copywriter, social media manager or graphic designer!

5. Is The Information Presented Effectively? 

Last but not least, when reviewing CVs you need to consider how effectively the candidate has presented the information on their CV. Consider whether the CV is a maximum of two pages, whether it’s presented in a logical order and how professional the CV actually looks. Yes, a professional-looking CV is impressive… but you need to make sure it’s not just style over substance!

Similarly, a candidate should be able to fit their CV easily onto two sides of A4… so if they’ve overrun, it could suggest they’re not great at following instructions and aren’t great at condensing information – not ideal if you’d need them to put together client reports and analysis.


Obviously when it comes to reviewing CVs, there is a lot more you need to consider, such as whether the candidate would be a good fit in terms of personality and whether they’d be happy with the salary on offer – but I’m hoping these five questions should act as a good starting point.

Think I’ve missed anything out or have something to add? Leave me a comment below.

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