They don’t. Or rather they don’t read it in detail. Only yesterday I discussed this issue with my some of my friends working in the recruitment industry. All of them admitted that very rarely they take the time to read CV correctly before entering the room to interview the candidate. I wonder if that is typical for the search market or does it take place in internal HR team as well.
I would argue that the only people reading CV properly are hiring managers. Those who will ultimately work with the selected candidate. They want to know what have you done before to judge whether you have relevant skills. Other people in the process have a different goal: they want to keep hiring manager happy. Often they are also not area experts and even having read your full CV they can’t say for certain if you are right for the role or not.
Should you then stop writing detailed CV or paying attention what do you write there? Not really. But you can stop agonising wondering if the CV is perfect before sending it over.
(Let me know if that is your experience and how much time on average you spend on your CV before sending it!)
Your CV will be seen by several people in the process, and each of them will be reading it differently. There will be a recruiter or HR coordinator receiving your CV and looking for keywords to establish if you meet the main criteria to consider your application further. Then there will be more experienced recruiter trying to determine how you rank against other candidates in the process. There will also be later hiring manager looking for the evidence if you are a promising candidate who can successfully act in the role. I would argue that you should write your CV for the hiring manager. Why? Let’s break it down.
How important is CV in the recruitment process? As a door opener, it is important. It should have relevant keywords to convince person doing first screening that you are a strong candidate. It should describe your experience applicable to the job and can be less detailed about elements that are less related.
How much effort should I put into polishing my CV before sending it? In my view, everybody should have a master resume: one long document containing all details about your professional career from which you copy and paste the suitable pieces of information. You should have one especially if you are actively looking for a job. With that master document, any time you see an exciting vacancy advertised it takes 15-20min to copy and past appropriate elements fleshing the summary to meet expected profile as closely as possible.
What to focus on when preparing CV? As I see it the crucial is to concentrate on showing that you have skills and knowledge expected in the role. Read the advertised vacancy several times and make a list of what they are looking for. Make sure your resume shows that you have as many of those points as feasible.
Should I use details? Yes, in a smart way. Listing all the activities you’ve been responsible for at every position will be too much, but details on your achievements, measurable results or key projects you have led is what recruiters like to see.
Should I use plain language or niche jargon? Here is to my earlier statement that you should be writing for the hiring manager. For him (or her) to see specialist vocabulary will mean that you know the area which will work to your advantage. HR team will also be familiar with some of that niche language and seeing it in your resume can convince that you are a potentially viable candidate. However CV only in jargon, specialist abbreviations, etc. can be too tricky to understand for non-specialists, so try to balance technical lingo with some plain one as well.
What is the weight of CV in the process altogether? When you apply for the advertised job, what sits in your CV is the only information recruiter has about you. A resume is your door opener. It will not get you hired but will allow you to get invited to the interview. Depending on how complex is the recruitment process in the company you are applying for CV may have 5-15% weight in the overall decision. But you won’t get any chance without it.
So will people actually read your CV? Most likely less attentive than you’d like. But you should still spend few minutes to get it adjusted to a particular job. You don’t want to regret you haven’t done that if they won’t call at all. Check other posts for few of my tips on how to write CV here and here.
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