When applying for jobs it can often feel like your CV disappears into the abyss – rarely receiving any replies, occasionally receiving the automatically generated response, and you are often left wondering whether your application was read. Chasing after feedback can be just as frustrating, if you can actually get through to the relevant party to discuss your application – often being fobbed off with generic responses such as “we have over XXX applications for this role so we cannot provide individual feedback” or worst still, a response telling you that your CV is fine (because they are too busy to bother spending 5 minutes to talk through details.
So understanding where your CV might end up when you apply for a job is a good starting point to enable you to make more informed decisions about structuring your CV and about where you might concentrate your applications.
- CV sifters – this is becoming a popular and cost effective way for organisations to manage applications, taking out the recruitment element and fees. Companies specialise in taking bulk loads of CVs and sorting through to produce a shortlist of applications. Some are specialised in particular career fields but a lot are generalists and will work to a guide provided by the hiring manager. This works in respect of a popular job in that it sorts out all the relevant CVs (believe me, no matter how good the job advert, you will always get random applications from completely irrelevant job seekers), however if the sifters are not specialised and your CV reads in a technical or role specific terminology then you may find your application being put in the recycle bin.
- Recruiters – often generalist recruiters tend to work on a pepper gun approach, taking a group of CVs which “appear” to match the job and sending them all to the employers. Similar to the sifters, this can generate a misleading hope (if they tell you they are sending your CV to the client) as you will probably be in a batch of 20/30 CVs. If the recruiter is working on dozens of jobs then it is fair to say they may not have spent a great deal of time reviewing and matching up CVs specific to the role. Not always the case but worth bearing in mind if you are wondering why you haven’t heard back or if you have been rejected post submission to the employer.
- Specialist recruiters – these are the people you put a lot of faith in, they should know their game and in an ideal world have actually performed the roles prior to specialising in recruiting for them. As fees tend to be higher for these agencies, the employer expects to see a condensed shortlist of CVs which bear a close match to the position. This can mean a greater chance of interview should you be chosen for the shortlist but can also mean it is much more difficult to get into the shortlist in the first place.
- HR staff – instructed by hiring managers to run a recruitment drive for a role, some HR staff are fantastic and really ask the right questions of the hiring manager and research the role, others take a less formal approach and create a list of “must haves” and use these to tick off when reviewing CVs. Remember that this tick list is most probably used by most reviewers to a point so it is important that your CV states are the things you have done which are relevant to the role.
The lesson to be learned from all the above is to ensure your CV is clear, do not assume because you have a job title of XYZ that you automatically have experience of ABC. Making assumptions and not spelling it out is the first step to failing to get past the reviewer on your job search journey.