Five ways to make sure your CV gets you through the screening process
How can you make sure your CV sails through any automated checks? Mark Ashton of Amazing Prospects describes the top five things to include to ensure your CV gets you through the initial screening process.
Automated screening of CVs is on the rise, and while it’s something I would never personally do, or advocate others to do; it is happening. In this post, I will talk a little about how to make sure your CV sails through any automated checks, along with talking about ways to ensure your CV gets you through the initial screening process.
Automated Applicant Tracking Systems
It’s not just the big corporates who are turning to automated CV screening, businesses such as Snapchat, Evernote, Flipboard, Prezi, and SurveyMonkey are using it too. It was around five years ago that businesses started to take up this approach, since then, the adoption of such software has continued to grow.
This is the reason that more and more companies now use a form on their website, as opposed to the traditional method of simply uploading your CV. So, if you are form filling for what seems like the umpteenth time, you need to make sure that you are filling in ALL of the skills which are listed as requirements in the job description.
The majority of these systems will get confused if you use images, graphics, different fonts, acronyms, headers, footers and special characters; bullet points are the only exception to the rule. It is also preferred that you use either PDF, DOC or DOCX file formats and always insert your name as part of the file name, just in case there is any mix-up on the system.
What to Include in Your CV To Get You Through the Screening Process
Don’t delay. Applying for a job as soon as it becomes available is important. Waiting until the closing date, or just before will only put your CV at the back of the queue. If you see a job that is suitable, then don’t put it off; apply immediately, the sooner your CV is in front of a hiring manager or recruiter, the better.
The first thing to say here is that it is not always necessary to have a cover letter. In fact, it’s much better not to have one, than to have a bad one. But it does make it a lot easier for a hiring manager or recruiter to see in a snapshot, why you are suited for their position. It can quickly elevate you above and beyond those who don’t take the time to write one, which is why it is top of the list. I will cover off in a future post exactly what needs to be in your cover letter to really make it resonate with the recruiter.
Spelling and Grammar
You would not believe the number of CVs and applications I see with glaring spelling and grammar mistakes. Ok, so having word-perfect English isn’t always essential for jobs in Technology. Moreover, if it’s not your specialism, you can always hire someone to do it for you! Personally speaking, It shows me that a candidate cares enough about the position to want to get it right, first time. It also shows that the application wasn’t rushed and that they can do simple tasks, without making silly mistakes.
List of Skills
From the perspective of a Recruiter or Hiring Manager, you don’t want to have to search through the CV to check the skills match what you are looking for. In order to make sure your CV gets you through the screening process, make it easy for them to see quickly, that you have the desired skills by listing them in a clear and concise manner towards the beginning of your CV. Be careful not to overdo it; you don’t always need to list extensively everything you consider to be a skill, narrow it down to those which are relevant, along with just a few others which are notable.
Detail Is Fine, But Keep It Concise
An age-old question asked of recruiters is this: how much detail should be included on my CV? Candidates are often concerned that if they don’t put enough information on, then their CV might be passed over. Ironically, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. The best advice I can offer without giving you an exhaustive list is to say this; the more relevant the details to the position that you are applying for the better. You want to make the detail on the CV resonate with the Hiring Manager or Recruiter. Most of the time, the last two positions you have held will be what the recruiter will focus on, and it is here that you should really be putting in the detail and effort.
Every job you have listed needs to provide at least the job title, the length of employment, company name along with an overview of the role/s you held. Then, bearing in mind the relevance of this position to the job you are applying for, you can summarise the nature of the role using either bullet points or sentences, listing any additional responsibilities or functions you held as well.
Make sure you include some personal information such as hobbies or interests, as this gives a little bit of a flavour to the Hiring Manager about who you are and what you like. Business social media links such as GitHub or LinkedIn are also crucial. However, only include this if it has been used for business purposes, nobody really wants to see posts of your party pictures from your last night out, it isn’t professional, and it certainly won’t endear a hiring manager towards you or help you get your CV through the screening process. It is better to have no social media links than to use personal ones.
Consistency and Formatting
A standard set of rules apply here, and this isn’t just me being a fussy recruiter speaking; it can also help your CV sail through the automated applicant tracking systems too. Consistency is key, so limit your font styles, sizes, and colouring to just one or two different options. Pay close attention to how you format your dates throughout your CV, seeing ‘July 2012 – Oct 17 ’makes it look like you have little attention to detail, and trust me when I say; these things do get noticed and assumptions and conclusions are made from this kind of error. Always include your full name in the file name rather than just calling it ‘my CV,’ or something like that.
If you would like me to review your CV for you and give you some practical advice on how to make sure your CV get’s through the initial screening process, then I would be more than happy to help you. By no means, am I offering a CV writing service, but if you are based in the Cambridgeshire region, looking for a job in technology and want to know if your CV has what it takes to get you the job, then please do get in touch with me directly.