A recent report published by The Times highlights a fact about the recruitment process every job seeker would do well to remember.
It is this: when a recruiter receives a pile of CVs, he or she does not scan through looking for the right persons to invite to an interview – but for reasons to the reject the candidate.
It is a filtering process designed to get rid of applicants. Only then does the real selection process begin.
Graduates who make spelling or grammatical mistakes on their CVs therefore make it easy for recruiters to toss their CVs onto the reject pile.
How equipped are you to find a graduate job?
This fact was brought the forefront when The Times commissioned a piece of research looking at how well equipped law students are when it comes to finding a job after university. It found that as many as three out of four don’t even get to the interview stage.
The significance of the research is that these were graduates looking for a career in the challenging area of law – but the CV mistakes they make are just as common and equally injurious to a career in other areas of industry.
The top reasons for a CV to be rejected included poor spelling and grammar, and using text speak, but students also often got rejected for getting the name of the company wrong, or detailing services that the company doesn’t even offer.
This all comes as no surprise to us at Graduate Coach because as many as 85 per cent of the CVs we see have at least one grammatical error, something easily corrected by a simple proofread before sending it off. We’ve found that after helping these graduates with their CVs, 80 per cent of them get an interview first time around.
Other common CV mistakes we see – and that recruiters hate
- They don’t highlight relevant experience – graduates frequently fail to relate achievements and skills to the job they are applying for.
- They don’t include transferable experience – graduates leave out other experiences gained elsewhere that could be useful to the job.
- They ignore soft skills – given the value employers place on attributes such as teamwork, business awareness and teach-ability, it astonishes me that candidates rarely emphasise employability skills on their CVs.
- Too much emphasis on qualifications – the saying that one should always put ones best foot forward is true when it comes to CV writing: candidates should always emphasise experiences and achievements first, as opposed to educational qualifications. The employer is more interested in the type of work experience you’ve had.
- Research – no one has ever done enough research on a company! This little act would eliminate the embarrassment of talking about services the company doesn’t offer, or getting the company name wrong.
How to impress recruiters: stand out at every stage
Another finding by the report is that graduates often spend more time preparing for one part of the interview process than another, when actually the “person who wins the offer of a contract is the one who shines at each stage, from initial application to final interview”.
It is true that a graduate who invests in making small improvements to each area of his or her job finding skills is more likely to stand out against one who is strong in one area but weak in the others.
Other great advice given by the report includes ensuring your personality shines through, willingness to do the ‘grunt work’, not coming across as though people owe you something, and showing that you can cope with disappointments.