What Recruiters Look For in the Initial CV Scan

A recruiter takes less than a minute to scan a CV. What exactly do they look for in this short time? Caroline and Amelia from the IBM recruitment team in South Africa discuss what they personally look for when assessing a curriculum vitae that could lead to the interview.

 By Caroline Nokwazi Matsimela & Amelia Merchant

cv.jpgRelevant Skills: The first thing I look for is relevance of the candidate’s skills to the advertised position. As I browse through the skills section in your CV or perform a keyword search (e.g. consulting, business intelligence, analytics, cloud, telecommunications, etc.) to gauge if you have specific experience for the role I am recruiting for, I try to identify how relevant your skills will be to the open position.

Employment History: I prefer work history to be presented in chronological order, additionally only add in experience that is relevant to the role that you are applying for, your work history should also include accurate start and end dates and organizational information (e.g. company name, location, size of your team(if applicable), reporting level, incentive and target achievement information). I try to figure out if your current responsibilities would match the level of role we are recruiting for and the additional details assists in providing me with this information. I also understand if there has been any career development? Or if you have grown in terms of responsibility? Do the job titles that you have recorded match up against your responsibilities? The reason for leaving suggests answers to questions I may have about any gaps in your employment history or why you are in the market for a new role.

Digital footprint: Your digital footprint tells me a lot about who you are as a person, your comments and posts teach me about your values and thoughts.  This social portfolio is a showcase of events you may have attended or presented, personal or professional accounts or activities such as blogging, and thought leadership. I always look at your LinkedIn profile and usually review personal websites, twitter handles, your Facebook page and in some instances even read your blogs.  Please note that this might not be presented on your curriculum vitae, but it forms part of my research in matching you to the role.

Academic Record: Many technology skills require up to date certifications, I look at the type of your qualification, institution, and dates to assess if completed or currently in progress and when they are due to be completed. It’s also important to include the Institutions where you have obtain your qualification.

Structure: Small details such as spelling, punctuation, grammar, clearly articulated ideas and the overall presentation of the document gives me insights into your abilities.

Location: I also consider your current location and ability to relocate/eligibility to work in the country verses where the role has been advertised.

This quick review allows me to know if I have a potential candidate whom I want to invite for an interview. I will then read the CV thoroughly and compile a list of questions for our discussion, prior to contacting you. The main aim of our discussion is learning more about who you are and your career aspirations and needs. I take a deeper look into your employment history and appreciate practical stories comprising of factual information and tangible achievements. I expect honest responses and look to create a trust relationship which serves the best interests of both my candidates and IBM. One of the key imperatives in my search is to assess softer skills and your alignment to our core values dedication, innovation and trust.

If you are successful to be invited for an interview, I further assess your core competencies to the role, access your drive and alignment to our values. I also assess your personality to assess the team and organizational fit; we might have to take you through some of our online assessment.

Lastly, after all the assessments and interviews have been conducted, your references will play a significant role in confirming and advising us of your developmental areas we need to consider as your future employer.

Remember, your curriculum vitae and interviews are all about you, so have fun and ensure that you are well presented in order to get your dream job.


 Caroline is Talent Acquisition leader for IBM South Africa. Caroline has been in the world of recruitment for over 9 years and her niche area has been recruiting for senior-level professionals within the ICT industry with specialization in consulting

Amelia is a Senior HR Talent Sourcer and Specialist Recruiter with nearly 8 years’ experience at head-hunting for and closing top talent within large ICT firms. Amelia works closely with the IBM South Africa Global Business Services and Global Markets teams to plan and implement strategies, initiating and delivering key HR related projects to attract top talent within a competitive market.

Connect with us on Facebook at IBM MEA Talent and follow us on Twitter @IBMJobsMEA to find out more about available opportunities in the Middle East and Africa.

Discover what you can do at IBM. http://ibm.co/jobsafrica

 #WhyIBM #IBMCareerCoach

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