I’m sitting at my desk following a very successful CV Clinic at Pitman Training in Cardiff and wanted to get this off my chest. Several people (jobseekers) who saw me today had been frustrated at the enquiries/ calls they were getting that simply didn’t match what they wanted to do and the serious lack of enquiries that they were getting for roles that they really did want.

This got me thinking, what on earth are recruiters doing? Perhaps more importantly, are recruiters becoming too reliant on automated CV search tools?

I’m going to write this article pretty simplistically. The subject is a large one and my objective here is to educate candidates and stimulate thought from recruiters.

Keyword optimising your CV

The vast majority of people I saw today had no idea that they needed to keyword optimise their CV. This got me thinking about why this was and how we could address it. Candidates have no idea how important this subject is so surely it should be a key objective of the recruiter, either in person or through their online platforms to educate and inform their target audience.

What are keywords on a CV?

CV keywordsKeywords (or more accurately keyphrases) are the terms that recruiters type into a CV database such as CV Library to find candidates that match the job requirements of their client employers. For example, if a recruiter is looking for an accounts assistant in the Cardiff area then it stands to reason that keyword phrases they may use could be some or all of the following:

Accounts, accounts assistant, bookkeeper, sales ledger, Sage Line 50, AAT, Cardiff, bought ledger, etc.

If the CV of the candidate does not contain these words, their CV may as well be invisible as the results will not show up for the recruiter. If the recruiter is lazy, they may well be over reliant on simply using their search results and a very brief view of the candidate CV before sending this information on to their client.

Candidates, What do I need to do?

Firstly, make certain that your CV contains the keywords that are going to be appropriate for the role you are looking for. This is particularly important if you are changing career and your CV makes no reference whatever to your new career choice. Automated tools are great but they can’t mind read, neither can a recruiter. If you are looking to change career, say so in your career profile.

Research the keywords that recruiters are likely to be looking to use. This could be a skillset, a software program, a job title, relevant experience, etc. Make certain that this is prominent on your CV and consider adding a section into your CV called “Agency keywords” to assist the process.

Secondly, refresh your CV. If a recruiter sees that your profile hasn’t been updated for months, they will assume you have found a role. As recruiters also generally order their CV search results in date order, you won’t even get looked at if your CV is down the date pile.

Recruiters, how can you help?

First and foremost, explain how you work. Candidates really have no idea generally how to make your life easier. Make things clear on your websites when people re filling in their profiles as to exactly how this information is going to be used.

Next, please don’t become overly reliant on keyword searches. If you have time, make time for your candidates, they are obviously as equally important as your client employers. Give a more personal service if you can and you will certainly be rewarded.