The Truth as Far as CV Reading is Concerned

I can let you in on this secret as I was once the person doing the recruiting/reading!  As a former HR Manager and a graduate recruiter for many blue-chip companies, I can give you the reality of what really happens to your CV, once it has been submitted for a vacancy.

To set the scene, remember that recruitment is only a part of the HR Manager’s day.  At any one time, I probably had about 15-20 vacancies I was recruiting for (it was a national company).

Candidates think their CV gets read for about 15 mins.  It was easily possible that I got up to 100-150 CV’s for each post I advertised.  Let’s do the maths on the low end of that number.

100 applications x 15 (mins read) = 1500 minutes

1500 minutes divided by 60 (min) = 25 hours

25 hours x 15 (vacancies) = 375 hours

375 hours divided by a 40 hour week = 9.3 weeks!

There is NO WAY an HR Manager can spend 25 hours just reading CV’s.  And I certainly never took 9.3 weeks to recruit for 15 positions!

So WHAT DO they do?

Initially, they will give your CV the 15-second WOW test.  They will skim, scan and scroll and you have to grab their attention to get not the ‘maybe’ pile.

At this initial stage, they are looking to ELIMINATE candidates to get the ‘pile’ down to a manageable length.

And this is how you can get eliminated

1. Spelling and grammar errors (including getting the recruiter’s name wrong)!

2. A CV that is longer than 2 pages.

3. A CV that looks more like a novel, than a CV.

4. Cramped format, where the candidates have shoe-horned 3-4 pages on to 2, therefore leaving no white space.

5. A CV that jumps around, inconsistent dates and doesn’t flow.

6. A ‘generic’ CV that hasn’t attempted to match the job role on offer.

Believe me, that cuts the pile down considerably!

The Maybe Pile

Those on the ‘maybe’ pile, then get a longer in-depth look.  I used to get armed with two highlighter pens.  In front of me would be a job description and a person specification and the original job advert.

Where the candidate met my requirement list, I would highlight that area.  So ideally the CV with more highlighted parts on it, more closely matched what I was looking for.

I’d then do another ‘elimination’ round, and whittled the pile down to the 6 best candidates.

These would have been the ones that got invited to interview or passed to the Department Head for them to invite to interview.

So that’s the inside information.  I hope you can now see how important it is to make your CV bespoke to the role.  If you don’t closely match what the recruiter is looking for, you won’t get an interview.  And if you make the cardinal mistakes of spelling mistakes etc, or can’t say things concisely, then that says a lot about you too and perhaps the company might not want someone who waffles or has not got attention to detail.  Food for thought??  Hope so.


Did you know I offer a FREE CV review service?  Might be worth you running it by me before you send it off.  I’ll let you know if it will pass the ’15 second WOW test’!