Recruiting isn’t easy and that’s especially true when considering the first part of the process: The CV. Most businesses receive such a huge influx of responses to their job advertisements that the quality filtering process can be overwhelming. It is rare that a truly terrible CV will come your way (written in crayon, decorated with glitter, that sort of thing) so you’re essentially tasked with differentiating between ostensibly brilliant people.
In a world where it seems the people applying know nearly as much as the people hiring (thanks, internet), it can be easy to land yourself with someone who isn’t quite up to the task and result in wasted interview or worse, a terrible hire. Take a look at our CV spotting tips and see how you can give yourself a better chance of getting the right person for the job.
The initial filtering for CVs usually consists of disregarding those that have any errors, whether they stem from bad formatting or sloppy grammar. Candidates have a tough task in impressing you via one piece of paper, but no more than your task of deciphering whether they should be considered or not. With that in mind, if a candidate expects to have a good chance of gaining your attention, the least they can do is pay attention to the details themselves.
Tailored vs Generic
Those people who send you a CV that is tailored to your role are the ones you’re really interested in. To tailor a CV takes effort, especially considering that candidates will have likely applied to multiple jobs.
The generic CV on the other hand can be the result of two approaches from candidates; neither are the kind you wish to adopt in your company. The first approach is that a generic CV is simply easier. Candidates who cannot find the time to edit their CV to make life easier for you as the reader, will not be your first choice.
The second approach is not about taking the simple route, but about uncertainty. This type of candidate can’t decide what to omit and adopts the stance that if they throw everything they’ve ever done on the page, something is bound to stick. This is flawed logic because whilst it does indeed present everything a candidate has to offer, it forces the reader to do the editing and pick out the relevant parts.
Now, sometimes this can be forgiven if the covering letter that accompanies the application is more tailored to the role. Even so, in a world where both CVs and covering letters sadly can’t be given as much time as we’d like, it’s the applicants responsibility to make all their documents as accessible and relevant as possible.
With so many applications sent in response to a single role, it is essential to find quick ways to thin out the number and weeding out generic CVs is one of the most effective ways.
Employment gaps aren’t a red flag themselves, there are plenty of legitimate reasons people take time away from the traditional employment trajectory, such as travelling, illness or deciding to stay at home and focus on their own projects or raise their children. The problem with employment gaps (that aren’t overly long anyway) are when people fail to explain them. If someone seems especially cagey in their CV or doesn’t acknowledge the career gap seemingly in the hopes that neither will you, this can start to ring a few warning bells.
The problem with candidates that try to skirt around the issues of their career gaps is that it suggests something unpalatable occurred and they don’t want you to know about it. Once again, the candidate’s job is to make this process as easy as possible for the reader, so unless the rest of their CV is sparkling, you probably don’t have time to be pushing someone as to why they haven’t accounted for three months between jobs.
This is a tricky one, large stints with each employer can signal either loyalty or stagnation, whilst flitting from job to job can mean lots of varied experience but also that you may be employing someone who gets bored quickly.
Truthfully the only way to handle this is to deal in extremes. Candidates that have leapfrogged from job to job every four months perhaps aren’t the best choice. That said if each jump has been another rung on the career ladder than this is often better than someone who has remained with one company for 15 years but never progressed to the next rung.
If you know that you want a candidate who is going to want to stick around for a while, you can omit those that tend to move about a lot. If however you’re after someone to boost your company as a by-product of their strive for personal career development, employing a ‘flitter’ may be just what you need.
Attempting to employ someone based on how well they portray themselves via a sheet or two of A4 paper is always going to be a tricky. The above advice is a quick way of cutting down large numbers of applications in one quick sweep, but once you have a smaller sample size it still takes a great deal of guesswork. The CV is an entry point to an interview where you can get a much better grasp of who they are; up until that point you have to go on what the candidate has chosen to show you and your own quality threshold.
Check out our interview blog for more hints and tips to get that perfect hire.