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6 things you need to know before you send your CV to a recruiter

15 June 2016, 06:47Tammy February

Going the recruitment route goes a long way into helping you find the perfect career. Not only do they narrow down your options, but they tailor your CV to match with a company’s specific requirements.

But just because recruitment agencies are there to assist you, does not mean that you should be sending out CVs and cover letters with sloppy mistakes.

We ask recruiter Monique Bernic, from Elite Search some key questions to increase your chances of getting that job.

News24: What’s the first thing you look at when you’re looking at an applicant’s CV?

Monique: "A good CV should have a concise career summary / introduction / cover letter which include important details such as qualifications, experience and notable achievements.

This is what I always refer to first to assess the suitability of the applicant for the particular vacancy I am recruiting for. It also gives me an idea of how the candidate thinks as well as their general level of writing skills."

News24: When it comes to compiling and setting up your resume, what are the words or phrases that job applicants should avoid including in their CVs?

Monique: "There are unfortunately so many buzzwords that people keep using, even though they have lost their efficacy. Think of phrases like “self-starter”.

What does that even mean anymore? Other less than desirable terms to use include “guru”, “mogul” and “savvy”.

If it’s not a hard skill, avoid defining yourself by it. Rather stick to concrete skills such as people management and experience with software programs. Talk about what you can do, not who you are as this is subjective."

News24: What do you say to people who aren’t sure about going through a recruitment agency to get a job?

Monique: "I completely understand why a person might be reluctant to use a recruitment agency. However we are experts in what we do, often in a designated niche area.

A good recruiter will be able to sell your skills to the client as they already have an in-depth knowledge of what the client is looking for. We are trained to meet not only our client’s expectations, but our candidates’ as well. Therefore we will often be able to give extra insight that one might not be able to gain from an advert online.

We are also trained in market trends and salary negotiations. When it comes down to getting offers, we are on hand to answer any niggling questions regarding the terms of the contract. It is in your recruiter’s best interest to have your best interests at heart.

Your recruiter also offers a support system during the shaky resignation period.

We are there for you in your first few weeks and I have often helped mediate between my candidates and clients should uncertainties arise after the start date.

There is also the added benefit of being able to potentially apply for more than one opportunity through a single Recruiter. If your CV falls within their niche area, the chances are good they will have other companies they will be able to send your CV to. " 

W24: Let’s talk about CV length. You have to go through hundreds of CVs per day. How long should resumes be and what is the most important information that it should include?

Monique: "There is this terrible misconception out there that CV’s should not be longer than a few pages. In my opinion, this is complete nonsense. You need to be able to include details of your roles in each job, your qualifications and achievements.

Be sure to include your e-mail and cell number. You will not believe how often I cannot get in touch with a great candidate because there are no contact details on the CV! As soon as it becomes hard work to reach you, chances are good you won’t be contacted.

Indicate dates you have worked at each role, including the months. It sounds silly but 2013-2014 could be for 2 months or two years. Be specific! Also state your reasons for leaving each position.

Include all your duties in each role. If this is tricky, think through a typical day and week. What did you do? Which activities took up the most time?

A list of your key skills and competencies is always a good idea. Often HR and Recruitment personnel look for key works and this is a quick way to highlight your skills without going into the depths of your CV."

News24: What are some of the most common mistakes you see in cover letters and resumes?

Monique: "The spelling of “Curriculum Vitae” is often incorrect. In fact, often silly spelling errors will put me off as it’s indicative of poor attention to detail.

Formatting errors are also commonplace. If you pick a font, stick to it. Ensure that is a legible font like Arial or Times New Roman. Do not use Comic Sans or cursive fonts. Also, do not type your whole CV out in capital letters. Tests have proven that this is slower to read and is hard on the eye. Make sure that you are not over-capitalising words. If it’s not a proper noun, don’t give it a capital letter.

Keep your format simple. Do not use colours unless absolutely necessary.

Number each page with a footer that also includes your name and contact details. This is in case pages get muddled up or go missing."

News24: In some cases applicants often tend to be worried about their lack of experience.  How big of a role does this play when you’re recruiting an applicant for a company? Do the people with the best experience always end up getting the job?

Monique: "Actually, no. Sometimes my clients will opt for a candidate because they are a better culture fit for the team. I look at not just experience, but also the kind of companies the candidate comes from. Will they fit in well with my clients?

Do they have a stable history at previous employers? There are many factors, not just education and experience. The whole person needs to be taken into consideration when recruiting. Of course, some clients may have specific non-negotiables and we have to work around those when looking at CV’s."



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