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What is it that hiring managers are looking for in your CV?

Updated: Mar 19, 2020

_What is it that hiring managers are looking for in your CV?

What hiring managers are looking for in your CV? Well, many things.

First, consider this. For each vacancy that you see being advertised out there on the job boards, organizations receive hundreds (sometimes thousands) of applications for each position. This piles a lot of pressure when doing shortlisting. Sifting through all these CVs is not an easy job. Today we have technology like Applicant Tracking System (ATS) that uses filtering to move candidates from one stage to the other based on the hiring criteria being used. But this has terrible downside. This technology uses

set key words and phrases to scan through CVs to determine what to consider and what to discard. Most job seekers do not know or take time to optimize on key searchable words relevant to their background and skills-set. So, with ATS, most qualified candidates will be ejected. Even where AI is being used, still it has it's own inadequacies. Most organizations are using manual, human eyes to do the shortlisting. In normal practice, hiring managers spends less than 10 seconds scanning through your CV.

Yes. Less than 10 seconds. What can you do in 10 seconds. Very little. So, what are they looking for in those 10 seconds?

They're looking at your past work experience. They want to know if you have transferable skills from your past positions you've held. Transferable skills are your technical skills asset that you can carry from one position/company and can be replicated in another. For, example, if someone is looking to fill a role of Management Accountant, someone who have held similar position becomes highly relevant.

Next, they want to know how long you've held such positions. Because expertise is acquired with years of doing what you do. Other details like key responsibilities, companies you worked for and qualifications comes further down and are not part of what hiring managers looks for in those 10 seconds. With this understanding, you should structure your CV in a way that it is readable, has a smooth flow and amplifies your experience (position held - company - period worked) in that order. Most very good candidates get discarded for no other reason than the hiring managers could not pick relevant transferable skills from their CVs.

Or because their CV is poorly structured, such skills are hidden deep in a mess of words.

Also take note that practical experience is more regarded than academic qualifications - meaning that as you pursue more studies, you should also make equal effort to ensure that you gain relevant experience that compliments your qualifications. This is why a maintenance engineer with only a Higher diploma from from Railway Training Institute and 10 years experience is likely to outdo an engineering maste

rs holder who do not have much relevant experience.

Ordinarily, hiring managers will not care much about the companies where you worked UNLESS the role is very industry specific e.g. hospital, construction, retail, telecommunications etc and they prefer someone with matching industry background for ease of transition. Of course they will care if the organization(s) you've worked for before have bad reputation - work ethics and culture.

Lastly, the look of your CV can reveal the level of your seriousness and professionalism. This can be a bit subjective but it can work against you. The way your CV is organized has a strong sway on how hiring managers will perceive you.

************************************************************** William Mukaria | Nairobi | 06.02.2020

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