Impressing the Robots with Your CV

By David Smith

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Before you ask! No, I am not calling recruiters derogatory names! I am, of course, referring to the way that CV sifting and applicant screening is managed in 2017 and beyond!

At the risk of sounding ancient, back in my Jobcentre days, we would see [and sift] dozens of CVs every week, not electronically – no, no, no! These were paper versions, arriving in envelopes, with covering letters stapled to them.

Just let me wipe my eyes and compose myself for a moment while I try to accept just how much things have changed.

Nowadays, your CV goes off into the ether and often undergoes considerable scrutiny by Applicant Tracking Software, CV Screeners, Keyword Crunchers, Digital Confetti makers… whatever you call the software, the point is, that your CV will likely be screened by a robot before it falls under the warm gaze of a human being!


Why the Changes?

Whilst these changes are far from new, in recent years, the landscape of recruitment, cost and time cutting protocols have necessitated the advent of these more automated systems that are designed to ensure that only ‘relevant’ applications find their way to the recruiter.

Your CV will be probed for keywords relating to skills, experience, achievements and the like, whereas graphics, tables, fancy fonts and formatting may result in a CV being rejected.

 The Drawbacks

If you were to draw up a Pros and Cons list for this change, the pros are obvious with the reduced costs, but on the cons side [apart from the very high implementation costs], at the top of the list, because it affects recruiters and those being recruited….

…if you don’t speak the same lingo as the robot, you may not survive the scrutiny, even though you may well be a perfect match…!

Pretty hard to swallow, so what can you do about this?

 4 Ways to Learn the Lingo and Impress the Robots

There are more, but here are some to get you started!

Industry Specific Keywords: It is hard to avoid these keywords, but you need to make sure that every application you put together [and, yes, that does mean that you need to check every application, there is no room for the old copy and paste routine] must contain keywords, even multiple usage of certain keywords that leave no doubt as to your suitability.

Keywords is a pretty huge subject, and you may have to be resourceful in your search for the perfect batch of keywords to sprinkle liberally throughout your CV.

Bullets: Lists of bullets are easier to read and digest when compared with blocks of text [for humans and machines], so try to capture the essence of each skill or achievement in a single CV bite, rather than a paragraph ‘waffle’ [did you see what I did there..?]

Things to Avoid: Images, photos [for UK CVs], and fancy formatting, such as tables. CV robots are just not interested! They are more likely to reject the CV rather than try to work out what you are trying to tell them.

Fickle about Fonts: I have seen some….unusual….font types on CVs, some good, some not so much. I have also seen some fonts that can be read from low orbit and some that could fit onto a grain of rice…I exaggerate, but you get it! Keep it basic, sans serif. I favour the Arial family, but Calibri or Verdana work too. Don't go below 10 point.


How Can you Be Sure?

It is a challenge knowing whether or not your CV will tick all the boxes, but if you are in the process of applying for work, if you have seen the perfect vacancy – send your CV to me, and a link to the vacancy, and I will tell you how well it scores. I will give you some feedback on how to increase the score if appropriate too!

Any enquiries or feedback, just tweet me - @Careervisa or connect with me on Linkedin!

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