Here is how to get your CV past the gatekeepers all the time

Unless you have been headhunted, chances are your curriculum vitae (CV) will go through several ‘shortlisting’ stages before the real recruiter looks at it before you land that dream job.

These days, any job advert will attract several applicants. Due to the mundane nature of the recruitment process, several companies have outsourced the function.

Your CV risks being buried deep in a pile if you don’t take effort to make it stand out. Be creative ways to make it easy to spot. Consider printing it on a colored hard paper, binding it and orsend your application by priority mail to the main contact person.

Get a copy of the advert and take time to study it. Customize your CV to meet the required minimums – qualifications and experience.  My experience with most recruiting agents is they operate like robots. Any CV not showing the required minimums is automatically disqualified. So, avoid using the same CV to apply for different jobs. Take your time to fine tune your CV to the requirements of each job. You are advised to have one or two people review it.

If there is a phone number in the advert, callit. For example, ask to speak to the Head of Marketing, if the vacancy is in a marketing department. Someone will expect your CV and be on its lookout from the pack.

Your CV has high chances of being shortlisted for the next stage if the stated minimum requirements are well stated and visible to the reviewer. Below is a typical shortlist summary table. The required minimums are in the columns. A lower level staff will review go through all applicant CVs and update the shortlist table pre-approved by a supervisor.

XX Ltd| Marketing Manager Job| shortlisting summary

Name MBA


Any Relevant Professional Qualification in Marketing (5%) At least 10 years’ experience in a peer company


C-level experience


Valid & clean driver’s license


MS Office applications experience (3%) Score (pass is >20%). Total score 30 Pass/ fail
James LK Another 0 5 2 (has two years expr). 0 2 3 12 Fail
Peter Another 5 5 8 0 2 3 28 Pass

In the table above, the first stages in the selection process are about picking candidates that meet the minimum requirements as stated by the employer. Any CV which does not meet the minimum requirements is set aside. Note that there is limited supervisory review at this stage. To proceed, your CV must error on showing the minimum qualifications.The employer is worried of hiring a person who does not meet the required minimums.  Clearly state how you meet the minimum requirements on the first page of your CV.

Depending on the job and the number of applicants, you may be invited for an aptitude test. Most aptitude tests are predictable and you could easily get a perfect score if you use and the Internet well.

The next phase is a review by a senior manager. This is a folk who knows the needs of the company well and the kind of person they looking for. For your CV to get past this stage, you must show maturity and relevance to the job. If the position is a middle level one, you could explain a time you managed a project or a department, the initial challenges you encountered in regard to top management commitment to the initiative, and how you got around the problem.  Find two to three 90-words personal experiences you can share. Don’t disclose too much!

After this stage, the shortlist will have three to six candidates only. Another senior person may review the CVs to reduce the number to three. You may then be invited for a face-to-face interview with one person or a panel of three people depending on the level of the job.

Employers fear hiring a person who won’t do the job due to lack of necessary experience and skills. They want to avoid recruiting someone who is sickly or won’t fit in the team quickly. Go show them why you are the best candidate. They need a motivated person who will stay around for a long time.


The writer is a publisher of Your Three Keys to a Worry Free Life. Buy the book from and start moving closer to your dreams and goals. Or visit to know more.

About M. B. Mugisa

Mustapha Barnabas Mugisa is one of those rare people who provides business consulting and advisory to professionals and corporate entities who demand the very best. He is a prolific speaker and governance (strategy and risk) expert. His speaking involves making key notes at major conferences and business events on both technical subjects and leadership skills. A change agent and motivational speaker. Mustapha provides tools and proven methodologies to remarkable results through making people appreciate change. Visit Mustapha's LinkedIn profile to know more. Mustapha is the architect of #WinningMindset Leadership and #WinningTheGame strategy approach that combines Harvard Business strategy Playing To Win, with the Blue Ocean Strategy and Balanced Score Card to deliver a strategy that is easy to execute and monitor. Visit for special insights to improve your condition. Are you too good to be great?

Entries by M. B. Mugisa