Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Not getting interviews? Is your CV getting read at all?

An enjoyable back and forth on the CV Clinic at Guardian Careers last week. Here is the final comment I made that day, having read oodles of queries from job-seekers who probably had average-or-better CVs, but who weren't getting any interviews.
I find it interesting to note that many of the queries here are about CVs - but only to the extent of getting that CV onto the right person's desk. It seems to me that many of the problems being presented here today centre on 'Route of Entry' rather than CV per se.

I don't find it surprising that a job-hunt that is centred on recruitment agencies, online applications and the occasional directly advertised job is proving frustrating for the hunter. The signal-to-noise ratio for those first two routes is such that no matter how good your CV is, you risk not being noticed.
Don't get lost in the noise - "Your CV? Ah yes, I'm sure I came across it the other day"
It is a given that you need a superb CV.

It is a given that you need a CV that is tailored to each potential employer's needs (this might only involve tweaking 5-15% of the content of your CV, but that 5-15% will be the bit that makes one particular employer go "Aha!" when they read it).

It is a given that you need to be able to talk about achievement and contribution rather than just responsibilities and duties.

What is not a given is this - How do you ensure that your beautifully-crafted CV gets read at all?

All of our mothers probably uttered the same piece of advice to us when we were children - "Don't talk to strangers." And yet, the majority of job-hunters spend the majority of their efforts on doing precisely that.

I suspect that we need a Clinic looking at how to reach out in the marketplace to people who are not complete strangers. I work with employers every day and they don't want to waste time, money or management effort talking to time-stealers. And let's face it - the screening and selection process is enormously time-consuming. In a market where time = money, the most useful thing you can do as a job-hunter is to save an employer some time.

So assuming you can get your CV onto the right desk, it needs to reflect that at the very first glance. The employer needs to be thinking, "Yes! This person is right in the frame of what I am looking for to fill this vacancy."

90% of CVs that I read utterly fail to do this.

They are generic, one-size-fits-all, self-centred, documents. Read back through all the advice from the experts here - it all says the same thing. WRITE WITH THE READER IN MIND. 90% of people nod their heads at this advice when I meet them at seminars or correspond with them in a setting like this. And yet 90% of the CVs I read are average-to-poor.

Write with the reader in mind. Really. If you can do that, you will be head and shoulders above the competition.
This combination of right CV on the right desk at the right time is very rare ... Think long and hard about how you are going to achieve that. The full clinic is here with lots of good ideas from the assembled experts, well worth a look.

6 comments:

Graduate Careers said...

If I am going through a recruitment agency, I usually like to clarify with someone at the company that they've received my CV. This way you can be sure that the agency isn't just putting a few people forward and discarding your application.

Princess Frosty said...

Great CV page, RM, I have bookmarked it :)

Sara Kmiecik said...

Very interesting post - I just stumbled onto your blog and I love it!

Rowan Manahan said...

Glad you liked it your highness. Some great ideas there.

Rowan Manahan said...

Sara - thank you and thank you again.

Jess Wilson said...

Rowan,

Thanks for the list of great suggestions from 'assembled experts' - writing with the reader in mind is something we all assume goes without saying, but I think it's very helpful to be reminded now and again. Great post!

-Jess