What to Look for in a CV 

idea for examing a cv for a job application

When you are recruiting for a position, you can be inundated with CVs, all of which tell a story. But how do you search through these stories to find the one that matches up best with your business’ needs? A key is knowing what to look for in a CV and here we have some tips.


When dealing with CVs, it pays to have a process that you can repeat for other vacancies. For starters, don’t look at the CVs until after the closing date has finished. Then start with the easy stuff, such as weeding out the ones who don’t have the skills or qualifications you need – this can be anything from having a full driving license to industry specific qualifications, whatever you listed as essential for the job.

Next conduct a preliminary sweep of the CVs contents. Look for spelling and grammar, readability and the general details of the person such as their previous experience. At one time, it was a little frowned up to have a professional written CV – employers believed you should be writing it yourself. But in a lot of jobs, the ability to write a great CV has no bearing on the job applied for and the time and money used to get that perfect CV shows a form of commitment in itself. Using a CV writing service isn’t just a case of getting someone to rewrite your CV using posh language – it is an interview process with time needed to do properly.

Look for generic CVs that show the candidate hasn’t put any consideration into the process and just sent out their basic one-size-fits-all document. Candidates should put some consideration into the CV, whether written themselves or by a professional CV writing company. This means specific information aimed at the position in question, experiences that are targeted towards your business or industry and relevant information. Avoid those with lots of pointless information about what they did in a job – you want to know what they brought to the position.


When you listed the job, you will have also listed the essential and the desired qualities, experience and skills for the position. Once you have a pile of well written CVs that had the essentials in place, you can start looking at them in terms of the desirable qualities.

Look at their previous experience – is it what you need? How long have they been in their jobs? Do they move around a lot for no clear reason or is there signs of a steady progress whether with one company or a few?

Also look at information about the individual as a person, their hobbies and interests. While these aren’t crucial, it helps to get a feel for someone and to guide on their possible suitability to the environment you will be offering. You can also use this section to write tips for the interview process, bringing in a touch of the personal to help relax the interviewee. This often lets people show themselves in their best (or worst!) light and gives you a better insight into their suitability.

Background Checks for Candidates 

Close-up image of employer reading cv of job candidate

Finding the right candidate for a job is about getting a number of things together. You want the person with the right experience, approach and qualifications. You want someone who is enthusiastic about their new role and will fit in well with the team. Sometimes it can be easy to focus on all of this and forget about the important background checks for candidates. After all, there’s no point in getting the perfect candidate then finding out there is some reason that prevents them from taking the job.

Getting It Right

So what are the basic checks for employers that should be carried out for most all employees before they start in a position? The first one is the identity check. Make sure that you get the candidate’s authorisation before you start carrying out checks to ensure you comply with data protection regulations.

Next, you need to establish that the person is who they say they are. Often this will involve providing two forms of photo ID and one that confirms the address of the person or a similar makeup. The documents need to be originals and from a trustworthy and reliable source as well as being valid, dated and current – the best documents are ones that are difficult to forge such as passports or driving licenses.

After ID is firmly established, you may next want to perform a Criminal Records Bureau check, now known as a Disclosure and Barring Service or DBS checks. There is a form to complete along with the paperwork confirming the person’s identity, although there are now quite a few businesses that provide online background checks. Once the checks are complete, the employee is provided with a certificate that is presented to the potential employer. There are three levels of this check depending on the type of job in question – standard, enhanced and enhanced with list checks.

Further Checks

Once you have established their ID, you need to also check to see if they have the ‘right to work’ in the UK. This involves taking copies of documents confirming they are able to work in the UK as well as identity check paperwork to confirm the person is who they say they are.

Some jobs may require a health check before an employee can take up a position. This may be if the job requires it or for legal reasons, such as an eye test for drivers of commercial vehicles. Written consent is required before this check can be carried out and employees can ask to have a copy of the report, ask for information to be changed and even deny it to an employer if they want.

Background Checks

Many companies now consider conducting background checks before the interview process to establish some of this information in advance. This can help find the candidates who are withholding information and save the company money and time in putting them through the interview and full checks process. Third party companies can often provide these services to save the employer having to do so and these companies will have a better understanding of how and where to get this information, making for a quicker and more efficient proves.