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Does your CV promise a match made in heaven?

Employability Service

Category: Student support services

22 March 2021

Throughout time, matchmaking in romantic terms has been placed in the hands of specialised professionals, including astrologers and clergy. But change the context to recruitment and it’s your application that fulfils this role, making sure you and the job you want live happily ever after.

You’ve taken time to produce an excellent CV – in fact, it’s a work of art, it details your experience concisely but still highlights your most important achievements and key skills. It’s well formatted and frankly looks great. But is it ‘tailored’? Tailoring your CV is very important, and understanding why can help you put this principle into practice.

If you’d care to walk in the employer’s shiny shoes, you’d see there are two top priorities at play. At the front of an employer’s mind is a two-part question, ‘How can I manage this process with minimal time? ’and the less appreciated concern, ‘but make sure I don’t make a bad hire?’

The first bit boils down to time. An employer needs to see you are the right candidate for the job as quickly as possible. Recruitment costs time and money with an average process taking 27.5 days (CMD Recruitment) and only 35% of applicants actually qualified for the role, so there’s a lot of sifting to be done! If you show you have matched yourself to the job description and specification, you give your CV the chance of a closer look.

If a human does this, then CVs typically get an 8-30 seconds initial showtime and it’s the first half-page of any CV that most influences whether a candidate gets further consideration. Lengthy CVs won’t do and nearly half of those over two pages get discarded (sector exceptions apply). But 97% of employers (Paycor) are increasing investment in recruiting technology to manage part of this process.

So now a ‘bot is assessing your suitability? Don’t worry! The key words you’ve used from the job description to tailor your application will help. And, if those words have an acronym, include both this and the long version – it’s just all part of what a ‘bot loves to read. For more on AI in the recruitment process see our blog Beating artificial intelligence recruitment systems at their own game.

A bad hire is incredibly costly. For example, REC’s perfect match report (see stats below) proposes that costs can amount to over three times the employee’s salary.

The graphic below shows example costs associated with a poor hire at middle-management level, where the employee has a £42,000 salary. The costs are £28,000 'wasted' salary; £1,500 on training; £9,730 on recruitment; £9,625 lost productivity of employee; £29,160 lost productivity of team; £54,000 staff turnover. The total loss is £132,015.

A report by REC (Recruitment and Employment Federation) showed that a bad hire can be costly. This graphic shows how costs associated with the recruitment process, along with 'wasted' salary, can add up to three times the employee's salary

Scary stuff! But only 11% of bad hires fail because of poor technical competence. The remaining problems are around less quantifiable attributes such as teachability, emotional intelligence, temperament and motivation (Leadership IQ). You’ve matched your experience and transferable skills but did you write about them in a way that demonstrate any of these qualities? If you did, then your CV includes the ‘why’ as well as the ‘what’, which makes it one of the best.

Prospects lists failing to tailor your CV as the second most serious mistake to make after poor formatting. Successful matching means your CV survives long enough in the process to really get appreciated and tells the employer you have essential qualities to guarantee your professional skills get put to use.

We know a good suit fits the customer because the tailor knew their detailed measurements. Keep a master CV, yes, but every time you apply for a new job, research and respond to the detail of that organisation’s priorities and job criteria so your application fits those requirements. Otherwise, it’s just not going to be as attractive and unlikely to win you an interview.

So be it a CV, cover letter or personal statement you’re writing – make sure you max your matchability! See The Career Centre resources for CV/letter templates and email [email protected] for application support.

By Rebecca Pardue, Employability & Careers Adviser

Our Employability Service works with students throughout their time at ARU and after they graduate. The Service offers careers advice, online resources, and help with job searches, applications and interview preparation. Our Employability & Careers Advisers may mention some of these resources and services in their blogs, to give you an idea of the careers support that's on offer at ARU. Some of these resources sit behind a log in and can only be accessed by current students.


The views expressed here are those of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views of Anglia Ruskin University. If you've got any concerns please contact us.