Making your mind up

As some of you may have read previously, I’m not just a recruiter, I also coach my clients, mainly back into employment, and run a CV-writing service as well. One of the biggest debates I have with my clients is about the length of time a recruiting line manager actually spends reviewing their CV before making a decision.

I tell my clients that the clichéd idea of a CV only being reviewed for 10, 20 or 30 seconds, at the most, is a huge generalisation. Yes, for some high volume roles within administration, or for buying and marketing assistant roles, you can easily get over 100 applications per role, which means the time given to a single CV will certainly be short, but does this really apply to every role?

Not every vacancy is the same

For example, I’m currently writing a CV for a doctor that specialises in drug trials and is applying for a very specific role. In this instance, there will only a handful of applicants who can do the job and therefore every line of their CV will be scrutinised and will get much longer than a 30-second review.

This is, of course, an extreme example, but the point is that every role is different and the culture of every business varies, particularly in the way job applications are handled. Some recruiting line managers will take their time and go through the process properly, some will simply scan over the details before confining a CV to the reject pile or deciding to invite a candidate in for interview.

It frustrates me when recruitment simply becomes a box-ticking exercise. My favourite book on recruitment is The Rare Find by George Anders. I love George’s take on the Jagged CV and how candidates with life experience but no sector experience can bring something unique to the team. This is where HR practitioners and recruiters have to use their influencing skills with recruiting line managers.

I’ve had some fun battles over the years where I stuck my neck out to fight for a candidate that I believed should be seen by the line manager. In most cases it’s turned out well and the candidate proved to be better in interviews than on paper and has gone on to get the role.

Instant decisions

It’s not just at the CV stage that snap decisions can be made; first impressions at the interview stage can also prompt instant reactions (both good and bad) and can influence the course that an interview takes.

I worked in the fashion industry for a long time and in one business a senior head buyer used to send a buying assistant to check if a candidate looked the part in order to determine how long she would spend with them. This decision was made before the candidate even had a chance to speak. Of course, brand fit is important within any business, but I had to have a full and frank discussion with the head buyer about what good recruitment practices should be.

First impressions count on both sides of the interview process and a good candidate will normally have more than one career option, so anyone involved in the recruitment process should be going all out to protect their employer brand irrespective of the outcome of the interview.

I work closely with SMEs on the recruitment cycle and the number of times that these clients have recruited from gut feeling and first impressions is frightening. Good recruitment is not about recruiting someone who is a mirror image of yourself, it should be based on the candidate’s skill set and what they can bring to an organisation. Skill set diversity and a broad range of personalities are good things for any business, so I urge those involved in recruitment decision-making to see past the first impression, allow for nerves and to try to get the best out of the candidate.

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