3 things that should ring alarm bells when you are reading CV’s


As an expert in Senior Accountancy and Finance Recruitment, I have looked at 1000’s of CV’s, carried out 1000’s of interviews and seen very successful hires, meeting a few frogs along the way (who certainly won’t be getting passed by me to any clients)! There’s no way of making a 100% perfect piece of recruitment – there are way too many variables! However, here are a few pointers that can help avoid future problems in the CV selection process…

  1. Gaps! This is probably the most obvious and well known concern on a CV. Why did the candidate leave a role with nothing to go to? Will they just leave us? Don’t they need to work? Or worse – were they let go all of a sudden? Gaps are not always bad – gaps that are explained e.g. travelling for 6 months (check this is genuinely 6 months of travelling to different locations and not a 2 week holiday!) or time out for charity work, time off over summer after a redundancy pay out or time out to have children. Time out is fine – it just needs investigating. Trust me, we have found some interesting things hidden in ‘time out’ on candidates CV’s.

  2. Do reasons for leaving add up? The importance of asking the reason for leaving each role is critical. This is because it can give you information about the candidates behaviours, because let’s face it, most of us can make ourselves look good for a one hour interview! Reasons for leaving can also help you build a story of the candidate you are meeting. For example if someone has left their last four employers because of a ‘personality clash’ with colleagues, this would definitely be a red flag!

    Once you start questioning reason for leaving you may find more details come to light, sometimes people will put a positive spin on things. What was originally described as redundancy may actually turn out to be being let go from a role. To understand if it was a genuine redundancy situation, referencing will allow you to check, but at interview you should ask how many people were made redundant in the department or across the business; this will give you a feel as to whether it was just them or company wide.

    Deciding to leave one role to move to another due to lack of progression, looking for a new role, interviewing and receiving an offer, handing in and working your notice are all very different to walking out of a role with nothing to go to; due to a perceived ‘lack of progression’, the latter certainly requires further investigation.

    If the reasons for leaving are not on the candidates CV – give the agency a quick call and find out.

  3. Odd contract lengths?
    How long would you expect someone to go on maternity leave for?

    A role being classed as a ‘contract’ or ‘interim’ is not always the end of the story. Has the candidate done a maternity cover role that only lasted 2
    months? Or a systems implementation that lasted 1 month? Do things add up?

    “interim” can be used to cover things up on a CV! Some people would class leaving a permanent role early as being an “interim” role. Find out the reason for the contract e.g. sickness cover, a project (and specifically what the project was), maternity cover etc and check the duration of the contract matches. Being let go from a permanent role and therefore classing it as ‘interim’ is clearly not the same as successfully completing an interim project role. This is certainly something to ask the agency or put on your interview question list if you are seeing the candidate directly.

    Once you’ve clarified that the role was a genuine interim assignment, the next important question is “did the candidate see the role through to the end?
    The easiest way to clarify this is simply by asking “did you see the contract through to the end?” When discussing past contracts. The last thing you want is a candidate to leave mid project for something closer to home, longer term or paying slightly more money (please see blog about correctly classifying your interim candidate for more information on how to avoid this disaster).

    Recruitment can be stressful, especially if you’re ‘one man down’ and covering the role. Hopefully these tips will help ensure a smoother process for you. If you require any further assistance please feel free to call our expert team of recruiters at BTG Recruitment on 0115 960 7000.

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