Tuesday, April 3, 2012

How to read a CV

Human capital is the most important asset to any employer, so short listing and assessing the calibre of 300 CV's to identify the 10 best can be a daunting prospect.

Reading the CV

The first step is to match your candidates against your Job Specification. Beyond that, here are some things to look for:
  1. Skills: Seek out CV's that describe how the candidate measured their performance using the relevant skill. Furthermore, has the candidate correctly described the skills needed for the role?
  2. Achievements: Candidates that describe how they added value to a job through, for example, saving money or increasing sales outperform other candidates that list job duties.
  3. Transferable Skills: Career changers that describe relevant, transferable skills.
  4. External Validation: Winning awards or being selected to chair working group meetings rarely happen to under performing individuals.
  5. Promotion: Steady and consistent promotions are a good indicator that the individual can sustain the enhanced job responsibilities and that the person has been highly regarded.
  6. Length of Service: Advantage or Disadvantage?
    Long Service: Some consider many years of service a benefit, others consider the candidate institutionalised.
    Short Stints: Look for signs in the CV. The candidate could be a job-hopper or could be going through rapid fast paced promotions or it may be normal for the sector.
  7. Photographs: Ignore photographs/videos when recruiting as they allow for the potential to discriminate on the basis of age, sex, race, etc
Warning Signs:
  1. Gaps: Ensure gaps in employment are accounted for.
  2. Duties: A list of these does not say how the person performed in the role, just what they were meant to be doing.
  3. Spelling: Mistakes on such an important document should prompt fears.
  4. Promotions: Job-seeking within 3 months of promotion may be indicative of over promotion.
  5. Salary fluctuations: If a salary is £10k higher or lower than former roles - ensure you understand and accept the reason for this.
  6. Lies: With so many CV's containing exaggerations, look for evidence to overcome this concern.
  7. Contact details: A work direct line on a CV often indicates the person is happy to take personal calls during work time. Unprofessional email addresses also draw unwelcome assumptions.
Return on Investment

You should think about this in particular for your trainee hires. The costs to a business rise considerably for Trainee Schemes, so individual graduates should sell to you far more than a list of their modules. Look for descriptions of projects/dissertations. How they interpreted their project findings/results can help you understand how they tick, which is vital if you are to invest substantial sums of money in them. The grade alone is not enough.

Correlation of Job Advertising and CV Cliché's

The CV's you receive will mostly mirror the job advertisements you place, so favour absolute requirements and limit clichés in your advertisements that require a good team player or excellent communication skills as applicants are likely to feed these generic terms back to you in their CV, without evidence of the skills use, leaving you with a batch of CV's impossible to short-list. Many CV's simply claim the applicant to be a great organiser who is hard-working with excellent communication skills and able to work in a team - but when pressed for specifics these applicants often cannot recall a good example using the said skill to make a noticeable difference for the business.

Searching CV Tips

To expand your CV search, look at positions below the one you are looking to fill - a candidate ripe for promotion. Additionally, look for competitor names or company names that are synonymous with like minded employees.

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