Recruitment Roulette

Most recruiters these days get plenty of CVs from their professional contacts or as soon as they post any job. Thanks to the social networking boom, details of recruitment personnel are not difficult to find. Personally, my inbox has always been flooded with resumes whenever I have posted a job, irrespective of the job level and complexity.

It is scientifically proven – an average human’s attention span is less than 3 minutes. Hence, as a staffing manger looking to efficiently manage the resume pipeline, I look for all possible reasons to reject – the slightest doubt, any ambiguity, irrelevant or incomplete information and sometimes even the presentation style.

Here are the top 4 with real-life illustrations:

  • Ah, that cut-copy-paste: I have seen many CVs where people have copied project details from a colleague’s CV.  I am not exaggerating when I say candidates copy not just work experience, at times they forget to change even the date of birth and father’s name! Naturally, none make it to the interview round.
  • The autobiographyI sometimes wonder why a person with 5-8 years of relevant job experience writes that he was the class cricket team captain or an event coordinator of a college festival during his undergrad. Baffles me! Some do not shy away from mentioning their graduation projects while they are applying for a mid-management role. In the sea of irrelevant information, relevant information gets lost. As a hiring manager, I would like to focus on the related professional qualities/technical skills and personal attributes that lend to a culture fit. Nothing more at the CV screening level.
  • Jack of all trades: I had the unique experience of getting to know one gentleman, of course through his CV. I knew him so well that after a point just by seeing the sender’s name, I would move the mail to the junk folder. The person in question applied to almost every job we advertised in the newspaper. Right from Java architect to dot net programmer to program manager – he considered himself suitable for all possible roles! This omnipotent applicant caught the attention of many a recruiter – sadly, for the wrong reasons.
  • It doesn’t add up: If an application shows experience of ten years but employment details account for only for 5-6 years or a gap in education or employment is left unexplained, no recruitment professional will have the time or the inclination to fill in the blanks.

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Don’t get me wrong; recruiters are here to hire the right profile and not to reject CVs. You just need to capture their attention and stand out in the crowd. It is like the famous ‘Indian Idol’ competition on television, where the harried judges have to go through auditions of thousands of people to select the top twenty-five and, eventually, the winner. The audition round is all about elimination. Recruitment is no different.

In the elimination round, with the attention span of the assessor being just 30-60 seconds, one needs to strike the right chord and right note, right away. There are no second chances.

A few tips that can help you make the cut:

  • Be brief: A two-three side CV will catch more attention than an eight-pager.
  • Put it in reverse: As you progress in your career, your recent jobs shall have more weight on your CV, and previous ones shall shrink appropriately. Hence put the job timeline in reverse chronology, i.e., the last one first and so on to grab the attention of the reader quickly.
  • Say it like it is: Breaks between two jobs are better admitted than left unaddressed. For senior profiles, education scores may not matter much, but for people fresh out of college, it is definitely a selection criterion. Be upfront about them. In cases where you have worked in an organisation for a month or two only, do not try to merge experiences to show stability in your career. If discovered during the background verification process, this discrepancy is enough for an organisation to rescind your offer.
  • Fit the bill: Read job descriptions thoroughly and take out the time to edit your CV for the job. It is not about being disingenuous, it is about highlighting competencies & achievements that the role demands.
  • Take a second glance: You’ve put in the effort to create your CV and tailor it to the job. Don’t let a silly grammatical error or typo scupper your chances. There are many grammar/spellcheck tools available online for free – use them liberally.

In summary – if you keep it simple, precise, accurate, and honest – chances are your paper will find its way to the smallish pile marked ‘Shortlisted.’



Credits: This article has been contributed by Atul Mohan, an independent HR consultant and a veteran HR leader of Retail majors – notably Flipkart, Tesco, and Bluestone.

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