Behind the Resume, What’s the Real Story?

It might surprise you to learn that there’s no great mystery behind how recruitment professionals read a CV or resume.

Were not looking for revealing words and phrases that unlock insights into the inner workings of the candidates’ mind. Were not applying a secret analytical method that no one outside the magic circle of recruiters would know about. And were probably not that fussed by how much creativity candidates put into the design and layout (as long as its clear and easy to follow).

All were really trying to do is interpret the information were given. The task is to find a selection of candidates who could potentially be a good fit for the role and the organisation. This has a lot to do with what sorts of roles candidates have performed in the past, and in what sorts of working environments.

A Logical Next Step? Other things we might look for include whether theres a logical career progression and clues as to why the candidate might be looking for a new role. Are they stagnating and frustrated, are they regretting a recent job they took and desperate to get out, or is this just the right opportunity at the right time?

The way CVs are written and presented matters – just not in the way that many candidates believe. The stock highly driven, results-oriented terminology tends to wash over a bit. Were just happy when its easy to find the bits that tell us whether this person has the right skills and experience and is likely to fit the culture of the business.

Interpreting the CV So is an impressive sounding CV the best indicator of who will turn into a high performing employee? Not always.

Context and culture often matter more than job titles of previous roles. Context is about the devilish details behind the words. A Survey Manager job title isnt quite so impressive in a department of one person. What else is there to say that this person has experience of managing a team?

And, as ever, there is culture. Finding people who can thrive in the culture of the business is the best route to harmonious, productive and long-term relationships. If all the experience has been in a corporate big firm environment, can this person make the mental switch to a lean, entrepreneurial start up, or vice-versa? These factors might not exclude somebody, but would provide valuable pointers for interview questions.

Interpreting CVs is a process. And its one that works best when you understand the roles and organisations you are recruiting for in depth. And thats also the best place to start if youre a candidate serious about getting hired and looking to hone your CV.