Before I became a marketer at 1st Stop Recruitment, I previously spent time resourcing for the company’s consultants. When our consultants received a vacancy and job description, I would be responsible for finding CVs that fill the roles specification. I have spent a LOT of time scouring job boards trying to find our next perfect candidate.
Speaking of job boards, there’s a lot of them. And on those boards, there’s a whole lotta CVs on them. On CV-Library alone, there’s 13 MILLION CVs. That’s a quarter of the UK population, and it’s even weirder to think that only 1.5 million people (so around 8% of CV-Library’s CVs) in the UK are unemployed!
So, how do you stand out in a sea of CVs and applications? Let’s brainstorm.
ATSs and Why They Make Your Life Hard (Like, Really Hard)
A lot of concerns nowadays regarding job searches are based around ATSs (Applicant Tracking Systems, but that’s not important). ATSs are systems that act as a hub for recruiters (both agency and in-house). They allow recruiters to efficiently manage their vacancies and applicants in real time. Sometimes recruiters use CRMs such as Bullhorn in place of ATSs, and these are a little more lenient and less automated than ATSs. Though the ATS is a blessing for agencies, who can review every application they receive, there have been a rising amount of complaints about ATS methods used by larger companies. For companies receiving a lot of applications, ATSs can be set to filter out applications deemed irrelevant to the role.
Machines can be fallible, though. Because ATSs tend to scan CVs for keywords, applications can be auto-rejected even if they’re the right stuff, depending on the keywords and criteria they’ve written in their CV. That sucks. It sucks for the candidate, who misses an opportunity, and it sucks for the company who miss their next hire.
Because of this, people optimise their CV to match an ATS: they play it at its own game. Heavy focus on keywords to the point of overkill might look great on an ATS, but you may end up restricting your CV’s presence on job boards.
Tip #1: Keeping It Human
Let’s start finding solutions. By all means, optimise your application for every job you apply for, ATS or not. But when it comes to putting your CV out on a job board for recruiters to scout out, you only really get the one, so it’s best to try and not pigeon-hole yourself (unless, of course, you’re trying to be IMMENSELY specific in your job hunt).
You see, bots don’t read job boards (at least, not often and definitely not very well) but recruiters do. Crazy thing is, despite what LinkedIn says apparently these recruiters are HUMAN. Mad, right?
Because of that, it’s important to write your CV with a mindset for how a person would try and find your CV. When we search for candidates, we want volume yet relevance. Therefore, we cover broad yet targeted bases in our searches. If your CV says “Global Advertising Ninja” rather than “Marketing Executive”, I’m not going to find you. Neither is anyone else. What’s the point of having a “cool” job title that no one can see?
Tip #2: Qualifications and Acronyms
Because of the “fussy” nature of job board searches, it’s also important to consider how you’re spelling acronyms and qualifications. If your spelling differs from the search spelling, you might not turn up in a search.
For example, if you have a bachelor of science degree, how do you have it down on your CV? Recruiters could be searching for a “BSc”, “B.Sc”, “Bachelor of Science” or any permutation of the degree. Do you abbreviate your membership to the Associated Chartered Certified Accountants? Fewer recruiters will be searching for the full term, but more likely for the “ACCA” shortened version. And if they search for that and find who they need, you won’t even get a look in.
It’s a Catch-22 though: if you try to cover all bases with multiple abbreviations, it makes your CV inconsistent which ends up worse than not being found at all. So what do you? Trial and error is probably the way to go. If you’re not getting any responses, try switching up the way you’re presenting your acronyms etc. You never know!
Tip #3: Spellcheck (Pre Job Boards!)
I promise I’m not patronising you when I’m saying spellchecking is important: I know you get that. Basic spelling errors look unprofessional, sure, but their bigger knock-on effect doesn’t get acknowledged much. With this whole “recruiter search” thing we’ve been talking about, it’s another issue that can mean your CV isn’t found. If I’m looking for someone who can drive a forklift, your “froklift” license isn’t going to help you turn up in the results.
Following on from that, ‘Americanisms’ can hinder your likelihood of landing your next role. If you’re a graphic designer or paint sprayer, do you have an awareness of ‘colour theory’ or ‘color theory’? If you get the spelling wrong of something you know well, you hardly look like you’re an expert. Typos can hinder you massively.
If you really want to nail the CV and be confident behind the words on your piece of paper, why not submit your CV to us? We offer CV Writing services, but we would also love to help you find a role altogether!