Part-time Accounts Assistant 
Small, friendly team
 £10 per hour
12 to 16 hours per week
Pendeford Wolverhampton
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Graduate Engineer
Top Telford/Japanese Manufacturing Business
Salary: £22,000 to £26,000
Telford TF3
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Are you missing good talent because you're not 

reading CV's the right way?

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The CV is still, generally, the first port of call for most employers when selecting possible candidates for interview.  While they can be a useful tool, the document itself, and how we look at it, means that we can often miss out on great talent.  Great employees are what build great businesses, so the consequences of missing out on them (and them joining your competition) can be significant.

Have you ever received a fabulous CV only to find that the candidate, in person, appears to have no resemblance to the applicant you envisioned?  I think we all have.  Here’s somebody who is great at putting a CV together but really doesn’t live up to the propaganda.  Well, the opposite can be true too.  The only problem is that those candidates with a CV that does not reflect what you’re looking for immediately never get a chance to demonstrate their true potential.

Sometimes you must look at things differently and make more measured judgements.  For example, if a CV shows that somebody has “job-hopped” a lot then they often get put straight into the rejection pile.  Sometimes, when looked at more closely, we find that the candidate has simply laid out the CV in a way that makes it look like they have jumped all over the place.  Examples we’ve seen over decades of recruiting across a wide range of sectors include: 

  • Listing different positions separately – on closer inspection the candidate has been with one employer for a prolonged period but visually it looks sketchy
  • Part-time work undertaken while studying is included in work experience – but nobody has checked that the dates worked coincide with school, college, or university attendance
  • Temporary assignments – listed as separate roles when they really constitute a period of temping
  • Latter work history showing a lot of shorter term roles and nobody notices the seven-year stint with an earlier employer – further exploration often uncovers the fact that the candidate worked in a declining industry and genuine redundancy situations ensued, or another genuine reason
  • Work history not listed in reverse chronological order – without double-checking the dates it is easy to miss the most relevant experience.

Human behaviour dictates that we generally put more emphasis on potentially negative aspects.  It is a basic survival trait.  This means that would-be employers can often judge longer periods of temping as an indicator that a candidate cannot stick at anything.  Sometimes this is the case, and sometimes it shows that an individual was keen to develop many skill sets, in different environments, in a relatively short space of time.  These can often be candidates who adapt well in fast-paced industries, pick up new skills quickly, and demonstrate flexibility and resilience in the workplace.

As a professional recruiter, I have been guilty at times, of plonking CV's straight onto the rejection pile for: 

  • Being too long – anything more than 3 pages is unnecessary and I have barely glanced at the name of those that exceed 7 or 8 pages
  • Poor spelling & grammar
  • Poor layout
  • “too creative” layout
  • Lots of jobs
  • Something ridiculous in the “Hobbies & Interests” section. 

While I am often justified in some assumptions (who cites being “able to swim an entire mile without stopping” under transferable skills?), I have learned to take a second, more objective, look before discounting an individual.  The few minutes it takes to speak to somebody who shows even a glimmer of something more than makes up for the loss of the “one who got away”. 

So, as in life, it is a good idea to try to look for the good, rather than the bad.  You might surprise yourself and hire the best thing to happen to your company in a while…even if they don’t look good on paper.

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