How best to impress a robot recruiter: The CV writing tips you need to know

Jenny Hargrave
Don't be subtle: Unusual presentation can actually impede the system’s ability to read important keywords in your CV (Source: Getty)

Disintermediation has changed the recruitment industry forever. Tech has led the reconfiguration of the sector and significantly reduced the need for intermediaries, traditionally provided by recruitment and executive search firms.

Companies have made huge savings to their hiring budgets, and data use and talent analytics are ever growing in a bid to drive further efficiency. However, while there are tangible financial and operational benefits for companies, what effect has this “new broom” had for candidates? They are, after all, the other important part in the process. A direct application puts the onus on candidates to guide themselves successfully through the job search and interview process.

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There has always been a need for a guide to assist with personal marketing and navigating the interview process. Post disintermediation, it’s imperative that self or professional job search guidance reflects and responds to the new environment.

Here are four key areas that will assist success.

Stand-out personal marketing

Without a recruiter to provide notes on short-listed candidates or to persuade a hiring manager to meet a “must see” individual, it’s vital that you are equipped with exceptionally well-written personal marketing material. Your CV and online profiles, through to application cover letters, need to convey a consistent, keyword-rich, personal brand message. If you are not a strong match on paper, you won’t make it past the applicant tracking systems.

Traditional CV and cover letter formats, in a standard font, and with compelling content, remain the most effective approach by far. Robots don’t appreciate creativity. An unusual presentation can actually impede the system’s ability to read important keywords.

Optimise digital profiles

Social media and online professional networks have unlocked new contacts and opportunities for both in-house recruiters and job seekers. However, profiles are often skimmed and quickly judged on face value, so opportunities to engage are lost. Talented individuals whose skills and qualities aren’t easily optimised on a LinkedIn profile can simply be missed.

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Ensure all available profile tools are maximised and that you consider carefully the keywords people will search. For a prospective employer, past performance is the best indicator of your future performance, so focus on your career achievements. Utilise all available media tools to highlight your work and points of differentiation.

Research and rehearse the interview

The interview stage exposes the greatest downside to disintermediation. Unless an introduction has been made through a referral, with no intermediaries to provide valuable pointers, preparation for an interview can be unclear. Without a dry run in the form of an external recruiter’s interview, you’ll need to apply some tough self-assessment to your interview skills. Seek an opportunity, if you can, in which to practise and receive feedback.

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Use communication to gain advantage

When confirming an interview time, seize the opportunity to ask what a company’s recruitment process entails. Several communication opportunities to strengthen an application exist, however chasing feedback isn’t one of them, so having clear expectations of a process is beneficial.

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It’s vital to find out who you will be meeting in every interview as you progress through different stages. With no one to brief you on the interviewer’s role and background, knowing a specific name will enable you to do your own research. This assists with the creation of rapport-building questions. Having a few of these ready is always advantageous. Above all else, ensure you are easy to contact. For busy hiring managers, candidate flexibility and availability is highly valued.

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