Getting your CV read
Dear Job Seeker, due to the copious amount of CVs I receive daily, even hourly, I mostly cannot spend more than 20 seconds on your specific document/s. Kindly accept that nowadays, online recruitment has led to a bombardment of résumés which cannot all be read. Yours in finding a job, Recruiter.
Does that sounds like a letter you could receive? It certainly does feel like it, especially in countries where a large number of applications are not replied to with any form of acknowledgement, and you feel like “finding a job is a job itself“. But the truth is that since online recruitment began, recruiters have had increasing amounts of applications, making it impossible to personally reply to every one of them.
ATSs and parsers filtering you out
The software that companies and recruitment professionals use (usually called ATSs – applicant tracking systems) are thus becoming more and more trained to do more and more of the work. And part of that work is creating a shortlist of candidates from the piles of virtual CVs that apply to the online job advertisements.
Parsers are basically the online machines that read your CV and pick out everything from keywords to how long you’ve stayed at each job. They are becoming very sophisticated and can assign a very clear percentage chance that your CV will be a match for a certain position. This means that often, your CV is not even read by human eyes before it is rejected.
Tricks to use on your CV right now
But this doesn’t mean all hope is lost. Making sure the spelling in your CV is correct, for example, tells the ATS software in a small way that you are worth your salt. Using a Word document with black text in a standard font (instead of a fancy PDF) might also help.
Adding keywords from the job advert you are applying for adds to your matchability to the job. Remove images from your CV – parsers cannot read them, remove strange colours, weird fonts, industry specific abbreviations (sometimes these will be fine, though), tables or any special headers or footers.
If you are a job seeker, go and make the following changes right away. After you apply, your CV gets a score assigned to it according to that exact job description, and these changes will ensure you put your best foot forward.
How to make sure they read your CV
As a full-time recruiter in my past, I learnt that even the line managers and C-suite individuals I dealt with have limited time and that often a simple application or presentation of a candidate by email is not going to get the attention it requires.
So phone recruiters and ask about the positions they are recruiting for. Phone HR divisions of companies and speak to line managers if possible. You’ll find that you get a number of extra chances to show that you are worthwhile interviewing. If they don’t want to speak to you – that is often the first sign that you don’t want to work there or deal with them anyway.
I’ve also seen candidates send in packages and take out adverts to get themselves noticed – this might work, or be seen as cheap – it is up to your and your industry to know if it will draw the right attention to have people read your CV or hire you.
A word here: Don’t try to force your CV in the door – you might not be right for the position. Know what jobs you are interested in and be honest about yourself and your skills when speaking to recruiters. If the job is a match for you, the truth will shine brightly through whether recruiters read your CV or not.
After getting your CV in the right format and including the right content, your reply to the first paragraph could well be:
Dear Recruiter, thank you for notifying me of your being inundated with too many CVs. I’ve helped you by making mine the best it can be for both yourself, your client/company and your recruitment software. I look forward to receiving notification of my interview for the vacancy! Yours in being noticed, Job Seeker.