When the resume misrepresents you
Words by Francis Kahihu
The CV is one of the requirements that potential employers ask for. As much as the CV is usually sent alongside a cover letter, there are many cases when an employer requests only for the CV. This is with the understanding that from it an employer can decipher what the candidate’s interests and competencies are even without the cover letter. Employers use the CVs to shortlist candidates for interviews when they find some hints in the CV indicating that the person it represents could possess the characteristics they are looking for.
Appreciating the role a CV plays in enhancing your chances of being called for an interview, it is then necessary for job applicants to prepare professionally in the development of their CVs. The irony I have witnessed among many job seekers is that they make great preparations for interviews yet do little when developing their marketing tools. Whenever you send out a CV in response to an advert, the main reason is not to get the job but an opportunity for an interview. If you send a poorly done CV, you shoot yourself in the foot as you may not make it to the shortlist.
The shortlist is basically a short list from a long list of applicants. Given that any job advert attracts many applications, employers subject all applications to three main levels of appraisal. One is the compliance review that seeks to check on whether the candidate has met the basic requirements of the process. These could include: Was the application received within the deadline? Does the application package contain all the accompanying documentation requested for? Does the candidate meet the minimum requirements?
All the candidates who meet the minimum requirements are later subjected to a more thorough review checking the relevance of the academic qualifications and work experience to the work being set out for hire. The intention of this process is to develop a short list. Those who make it to the short list are the candidates in whom the employer has extra interest in and would want to have a face to face or telephone interview with. Being called for an interview is then a feat we all should celebrate since in the ideal sense, it communicates that the potential employer has a specific interest in the applicant.
Out of my experience in recruitment processes, there are two main errors with regard to the CVs being used to create the shortlist. First, there are those candidates whose CVs are thrown into the dustbins when they should have made their way to the next level. Secondly, there are CVs that make their way to the short list when they should not have in the first place. In this case, the blame is never on the employer but on the candidates since the employer only relies on the CV to make a judgement. The CV is all the employer has and his opinion is shaped by the contents therein.
On several occasions, I have been shocked when I reviewed people’s CVs only to realize how grossly some misrepresent themselves. There are occasions when job seekers have created a ‘bigger than themselves’ picture in their CVs. They have been tempted to copy and paste competencies from other people’s CVs or have gone for the generic CV templates and picked not only the formats but also certain contents.
On the other hand, many highly skilled job seekers have so inadequately represented their great potential leading for failure by potential employers to consider them for the short lists. Interviewers are often times shocked when they interact with persons at the interview panel that leave them either wondering how they made it to the interview, or how great people so grossly misrepresent themselves in the CV.
My considered opinion in this process is to have all job seekers seek professional input in the development and packaging of their CVs. If you invest in interview processes, you better also consider investing in good marketing tools.