Over eight in 10 job seekers (81%) have tailored their CVs for algorithmic screening - or they plan to.
This data backs up an anecdotal observation from a prospective client this week who said that two things were happening when they recruited. Firstly, CVs of unsuitable candidates were getting through quality filters that had previously been successful at creating good shortlists and, secondly, perfect potential hires were perhaps not getting seen by human eyes because they hadn't been efficient at peppering their CV with the right keywords.
The latter was uncovered when a candidate called to ask for feedback on their application having received a standard rejection email. They told the HR director that they felt like no-one had bothered reading their CV - which of course was true! This particular CV had been zapped by what many of my HR friends call a "Resume Robot". During the conversation it became increasingly clear that the candidate might be worth getting in to interview and, to cut a long story short, they eventually got hired. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) sometimes get it wrong, who knew?
The first, the CVs of unsuitable candidates getting through quality filters, is down to unsuccessful candidates learning to play the game. A Google search of "how to beat resume algorithm" returns about 847,000 results in half a second. Getting a rejection is pretty dispiriting, getting a rejection when your CV hasn't even been considered is even more soul destroying. It estimated that around three-quarters of CVs are binned by the bots so you can see why candidates are turning to the internet for help to beat them. This is all well and good but if the practice just means that candidates get around the robots and then fail at the interview stage then everyone's time is wasted!
One of my friends "snook into" a webinar on the subject last year that taught candidates to write CVs in an ATS-friendly way. The advice was consistent with what you'll find in those Google searches … know what keywords to include, be clear what relevant skills and experience you have, get your CV format right, use industry standard job titles rather than quirky ones that might be specific to your previous employer. In other words, it's Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) but for CVs.
The research highlighted at the start was carried out Hays who surveyed 6,000 people and discovered that 27% had already adapted their CV or online profiles to get past the algorithms, meanwhile, 54% said that they plan to do so in the coming months.
So, as a hirer, what are you going to do about it? It's like a game of chess and it's your move.
The first thing you need to do is reframe the problem. The prospective client came to us looking for ways to bolster their CV tracking processes but we challenged them to ask "what would doing this achieve?" I mean, if we were to create the perfect version of an ATS and it did its job what would that mean for the company making the hire?
This is the top five from the list …
1 - Better shortlists of A-list candidates.
2 - Faster searches and shorter recruitment processes.
3 - Greater competency matches (i.e. candidates fit for the job advertised)
4 - Better cultural match - the candidate fits in with the firm.
5 - Candidates who match the specific role needs of the hiring company (i.e. a Project Manager can mean slightly different things from firm to firm)
There were more criteria and after we'd listed them all the prospective client said that they had been looking for an algorithmic system that would deliver all this for IT and IT Project hires for about two years and did we, as a specialist IT recruiter, know where they should look?
I told them that they were trying to solve the wrong problem!
They had got themselves so hooked on an ATS style delivery of candidates because it had worked in the past, that they were almost blind to what they actually needed. We reframed their problem away from "how do we find an Applicant Tracking System that gives us better shortlists etc" to "how do we get better shortlists etc". When they stopped looking for a specific solution and started focussing in their needs - suddenly the solution space opened up.
For instance, we talked about proper role research. We put real effort into finding out exactly what you need by getting to know the role and your company culture – then we either match your needs with our existing database of candidates or go out to market on your behalf to source the best people. We write bespoke adverts focused on candidate attraction to match your business or company culture, selling your business as a great place to work.
We talked about how to get just top-notch CVs. We meet every single candidate before we agree to represent them, to make sure we get to know them as people first. Then we do the deep dive into their experience and formal qualifications. By peer profiling every candidate before we put them in front of you we can ensure that we keep things simple for you by being extremely selective.
Competency matching starts with candidates profiled by subject matter experts, people who performed the IT project role you are looking to fill. It goes beyond this though, with efficient competency profiling, our assessment process is unusually robust, where carry out a competency profile on each candidate. This tells you much more than you’d typically know, including how well they will fit into your company and how you can get the best out of them.
So, while there are 847,000 results from a search how to beat the algorithms, there is one clear next move for recruiters - reframe your thinking, open up your solution space beyond previously tried techniques and find a smarter way to Access Talent.
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