Writing a CV for Machines
Having worked as a recruiter in both recruitment agencies and industry over the past seventeen years, I have been assisted in my recruitment endeavours by great people and great machines. Technological advances today means company recruitment data management has never been easier.
For example, you may apply to a position advertised by an agency, or a company, by submitting a CV electronically, via their website, or a third party, such as a Linked In. You might expect the recruiter to open your CV, read it, assess it against available jobs and then decide whether to interview you, or leave you in the system for future roles. However, a machine – the recruiter’s database, known as a talent management system (TMS), may be initially assessing you, particularly if you have applied to a larger company.
Any time a job specification (spec) hits the desk of the recruiter responsible for finding a suitable candidate, as in ‘Find me an accountant, someone ACA qualified, audit experience, FS clients, Big 4 background’, the recruiter firstly checks their database to see if there is matching candidates for that spec already in their database. So they type in the keyword search tool of their Talent Management System spec words such as: ACA, Audit, Auditor, FS, Financial Services, PwC, KPMG, Deloitte, Ernst and Young, and hits the search function and up pops the list of results – the candidates matching the key word search. If the list is lengthy, say over 50 candidates, they may then cut the list by asking their database to show only candidates submitted in the last 3 months, as there is a higher chance these candidates may still be looking for a role. Recruiters can also add detail after the initial screen of your CV by adding specific keywords against your detail on the database to assist them in their search, for example Audit people management experience.
What does this mean for you?
It means you have to guess what keywords the recruiter may use to find you and you have to think like a machine by assisting it to find you. Your CV must not only sell you, it must also be filled with keywords that may be used in these searches.
Let's say you are looking for an auditor position, make sure you use variations of auditor: audit, auditing, audited, if you have FS clients use variations and synonyms: financial services, FS, banks, insurance, funds/fund, anything the recruiter might enter in the search tool. Some TMS prioritise candidates with higher keyword counts, therefore repetition of the main key words is a good thing but resist from taking away from the 'sellability' and readability of your CV. Five or six repeats of the same keyword is better than 50 because it’s good to be found but you still have to convince the human, when they open your CV, that it looks professional and sellable to the hiring manager.
Place important key words towards the top of the CV, as TMS sophistication can rate keywords higher if they are found towards the top, you can use the summary section to highlight key skills that the job spec is asking for. A good place to start when trying to identify key words is the job specification, as the TMS may be using this to identify key words to match with your CV. If you are still looking for a job two months later then send your CV in again, otherwise your recruiter’s search may miss you if they only search for recent applicants.
So there you go by thinking like a human and a machine you stand a greater chance of getting to the top of the list of a recruiters search when they use a TMS.
* Know your keywords, look at job specs, pick keywords out and make sure you have them on your CV
* Use synonyms and variations of keywords
* 5-6 repetitions of a particular keyword is fine but make sure your CV still reads and sells well too
*Place important key words towards the top of the CV
* Resend your updated CV in to the recruiter via the TMS if you are still looking for a role two months later
I offer a CV assessment as part of all my Interview Coaching Programmes. If you aren't sure your CV is selling you well enough or if it reads well for the TMS, as well as the Recruiter, let me help you by booking in on a programme that suits you.
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Clare Reed is a leading global expert Interview Coach with over 24 years global interviewing and coaching experience.