Dealing with the CV minefield

During the August and September period, the number of CVs employers receive increases from an average of three per day to more than 10, according to recruitment consultancy, Office Angels.

The deluge means that on average, an employer spends less than five minutes reading each one during the end of summer period.

But Office Angels research reveals that more than three-quarters (77 per cent) of employers find interpreting CVs a minefield that they would prefer not to navigate.

The survey of 1,000 employers shows that two-thirds (68 per cent) admit to being unsure whether they have made the right decision about a candidate because CVs are full of common and often clichéd statements, open to extensive interpretation.

Eight out of 10 (82 per cent) say they make a decision on a CV based solely on certain factors, such as spelling or grammatical mistakes (49 per cent) or choice of words and expressions (22 per cent), before they even look closely at a candidate’s experience or qualifications.

Employers will also ignore a candidate unless they see experience and qualifications relevant to the job description on the first page of a CV, says Paul Jacobs, managing director of Office Angels.

“We manage CV selection for our clients and only forward CVs of candidates who [can show they] have the right skills and experience for a particular job,” he says.

But while employers are wary of clichéd statements on CVs, they should also look out for lies and inaccuracies, experts warn.

Statistics from corporate investigator The Risk Advisory Group (TRAG) show that two-thirds of CVs submitted by job applicants in 2003 contained lies or inaccuracies.

TRAG’s specialist employee screening unit analysed more than 3,000 CVs, uncovering discrepancies ranging from gaps in employment to falsified qualifications and fraud committed against previous employers.

Bill Waite, chief executive of TRAG, says: “The message for employers is to be far more rigorous in checking out potential employees. And the message for candidates is to be scrupulous in selling themselves truthfully.”

Office Angels also analysed around 3,000 CVs and compiled a list of the most common phrases used by prospective job candidates. It then asked employers for their interpretation of some of the most typical CV expressions.

‘I enjoy socialising’

Party-mad and likely to come in hungover – 65 per cent

Good people skills, outgoing and confident – 35 per cent

‘I’m a great communicator’

Non-stop chatterbox – 29 per cent

Articulate and confident with good communication skills – 71 per cent

‘I’m an energetic team player’

Overly keen, probably a sycophant – 41 per cent        

Someone who would be a benefit to your team – 59 per cent

‘I love travelling

Likely to quit after three months and disappear off to Thailand – 69 per cent

Has broad horizons and will offer a range of different views and ideas – 31 per cent

‘Very experienced’

Has had a lot of different jobs – 51 per cent

Possesses a variety of beneficial experience – 49 per cent

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