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What employers want in a CV

April 2019

Most job applications involve creating and submitting a CV - but knowing what to include, what to leave out and how to format it can be difficult. Researchers at Keele University discover exactly what employers are looking for…

Key findings

  • Some of the findings from this study confirm what many careers advisers already believed to be true. For example, CVs should be no longer than two sides of A4, photos should not be included and mentioning extra-curricular activities can make applicants stand out.
  • More surprisingly, employers indicated that they prefer a CV written in first person rather than third person, and nearly three quarters of employers interviewed indicated that they like to see a personal profile on a graduate CV.
  • CVs give employers insight into the candidate's personality and whether they are a 'fit' for the organisation's culture - it's not just about listing qualifications.
  • Many employers have very limited time to go through all the CVs submitted to them. They search for keywords and phrases to speed up the shortlisting process, discarding those that either lack them entirely or make them difficult to find.

Download the full report

What do graduate employers want in a Curriculum Vitae? Designing a student-friendly CV rubric that captures employer consensus

  • File type
    PDF
  • Number of pages in document
    27  pages
  • File size
    693 kB

Download the full report

Download PDF file What do graduate employers want in a Curriculum Vitae? Designing a student-friendly CV rubric that captures employer consensus

About the report

This HECSU-funded research project consisted of 41 semi-structured interviews with UK-based graduate employers. The researchers aimed to create a user-friendly rubric for CVs informed by participants' views, identifying which elements of CVs lead to shortlisting and which lead to rejection.

At the time of writing the report, authors Ben Simkins and Keren Coney were both careers consultants at Keele University. While Ben remains in this role, Keren now works at Liverpool John Moores University.

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