Search Engine CVs


Computers and the internet have revolutionised the recruitment process. 

Also, an increasingly mobile workforce means that the initial filtering of candidates is more likely to be done using a massive on-line database than it is by the traditional method of having cosy chats with a handful of telephone applicants. 

Search Engine CVs


The main implications of this are that your CV must be delivered in a form that recruiters can use, it must be search-engine ‘friendly’ and it must enable the reader to grasp the ‘essence’ of what you are about in around 10 seconds.

These basic principles hold good whether you are submitting the CV to a recruitment agency, an on-line job service or directly to an employer.

The Right Form            

Most employers will be happy to receive your CV as an original copy through the post though this may well be discarded immediately if you are rejected for the current vacancy.

You didn't really think that they filed them neatly for future reference - did you?

Although fax transmissions are also generally acceptable, they can produce a variety of problems including lost pages and poor-quality copies which will not be so impressive as your 'pristine' original.

Recruitment Agencies, on the other hand, will want to keep your CV for long-term use in a form which is accessible, easy to update and in a fit state to be sent out.

Essentially, this means that they need it on their computer as a WP or text file rather than fax or scanned-in images which are not easily searchable or updateable.

As most CVs are now prepared on a computer, it is a simple matter to send copies on a CD, floppy disk or by e-mail.

With on-line job services, CVs can only be submitted electronically.

Search-Engine Friendly

As with designing web sites, the main problem here is that free text searches are not nearly so clever as most people imagine and you have to effectively guess what search terms the recruiter is likely to use.

For example, they might search for an IT person with Windows-NT experience using the term ‘Windows-NT’, ‘Windows NT’, ‘Windows’ or ‘NT’ – Those candidates using the common shorthand description of ‘NT’ on the assumption that non-technical people know what they mean will lose out on the first three search formats.

Similarly, there can be problems with job titles which mean different things to different people.

For example, IT people who used to be called ‘Programmers’, ‘Analyst/Programmers’ or ‘Programmer/Analysts’ are increasingly called ‘Developers’.

Although you can’t really change the actual job titles held with specific employers, it is not a bad idea to include an extra page of alternative search terms if you know that the CV will be posted to a candidate database.

Meaningful Summary

The most important single item on your CV or resume is a brief statement describing the 'essence' of what you are about.

This should appear prominently on the first page and somewhere near the top.

Aim for a maximum 10 seconds reading time which is about 50 words.



A Visual Basic Analyst/Programmer with 3 years' experience of developing 'investment management' applications.

I am looking for increased involvement in the area of systems design with future progression into a team management role.

I prefer to work in the City of London and envisage a salary of around £30,000.


A concise statement of what the candidate has to offer and what they are looking for.

From this information, the employer can easily decide whether to consider the CV further.



A strongly self-motivated, confident, dynamic, energetic, focussed and practical problem-solver.

An effective team-player with excellent communications skills.

I am looking for a challenging position in which I can achieve my personal and professional goals in a positive and forward-looking environment.


Completely fails to tell us what the person does or what they want.

Basically a combination of waffle, psychobabble and opinion rather than fact.

I am always tempted to add "If I do say so myself" to these kind of statements


Do stick to the facts and try to avoid expressing your opinion of yourself.

About 90% of all CVs seem to contain a random arrangement of the following concepts and ‘positive’ words:

committed, self-motivated, ambitious, dynamic, dedicated, energetic, creative, initiative, hard-working, team-player, effective-communicator, work-well-under-pressure, goals, success, strengths, leadership, management, achievement, results, effective-solutions.

Funny thing is that you rarely meet anybody who lives up to these attributes.

Have yet to see a CV with a more-realistic statement such as:

"I set low targets and consistently fail to achieve them"


Finally, always keep your CV up-to-date so that you can respond instantly to job opportunities.

Remember, opportunity may knock but it doesn't hang around.

Les King

PeopleMaps Personality Profiler - UK-based company offering on-line personality tests - These are being increasingly used as part of the recruitment process so it is just as well to be prepared for them.

Eurofile also provide a telephone and on-site PC support service aimed at small businesses and individuals - Details on:

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