There is one very simple change that you can make to your CV that will double the response you get from recruiters. I know this because I have used it and as a result managed to get a contract job for my company. And this was after having my CV on recruitment sites for a few months with less response than I liked. The tip applies equally for someone starting out as a graduate as to someone with some experience.
Now why bother trying this? This isn’t a rhetorical question. You might think that if the purpose of a recruitment site is exposure to recruiters and employers then as long as your information is correct it should be good. Well, yes…and then no. If you don’t consider the principle of “optimising for automatic search algorithms” then you are crippling your chances of even being noticed.
In addition, having science or engineering qualifications, especially physics, doesn’t automatically put you at the top of the techie pile. Even if you have some work experience or have taken part in extracurricular activities.
First and foremost, the most important aspect of your CV is to get noticed
Once noticed as in once the CV is in front of the eyeballs of the recruiter, how the rest of the information is laid out comes into play. But getting to this stage is the biggest battle.
This is where the simple tip comes in. Because most recruitment firms run automatic algorithms to search and query hundreds of CVs, you need to stick out in the search program. These programs operate in a similar way to any search program be it in on your computer or on the web, which means they look for keywords to match search parameters. They look for specific terms rather than the context of your information, something that a person can do better.
Keywords are words or phrases that define a specific term, for example “verification experience” or “C++ programming” are keywords. Typically a job description will contain keywords so you can see how to tailor any skills or experience you might have to match these.
If you don’t have any keywords in the text of your CV, the search algorithm will rank you lower in the matching criteria. And a lower rank may mean you don’t get noticed. Unless of course you are dealing with a diligent recruiter.
So to change this situation, the easiest thing to do is the following:
Search on a recruitment site and choose 10 job descriptions you like. They don’t have to be graduate entry level if you are starting out. A senior managers job is a useful reference. Just make sure you cover a range of job descriptions within a certain technical field.
Look at the most common keywords and make a note of them.
Once you have these phrases include them in your CV so that they will appear on a search for these terms. It sounds simple and it is. But here is the twist.
Rather than try to eloquently incorporate them into descriptions of skills, make a list of keywords, preferably broken down into sections, at the top of your CV. To be more exact, add this after personal information and any statement of career aspirations ( a great thing to add). Then you can go into more detail about what experiences you have and in what context this is later.
So for example here are some of the keywords I have at the top of my CV.
Hardware Design Test and Verification
– Verification Engineering,
– Failure Mode and Effects Analysis,
– Design verification,
– Formal verification,
– Model Verification,
– Acceptance Testing,
– Test Design
You can do them as comma separated list as well. Remember it may look odd to a person that there is a big list of phrases and terms at the top of a CV but that’s because you aren’t aiming the CV to only be read by a person. It has to pass the “gatekeeping” search program. Once through, someone can then take a little more time and read it.
Also, placing the list near the start of your CV means that a search algorithm doesn’t have to spend time reading your CV to the end to find out what it is about. In fact some algorithms may only read the first few hundred characters so adding keywords to detailed information may mean your CV doesn’t even get flagged as relevant.
Like I mentioned before, this little change to my own CV resulted in an explosion of interest from recruiters. I work predominantly in space engineering and science so as you can imagine some of the information sections read like science fiction, but it didn’t matter. Even with all the experience I had managed to build up over the course of 10 years it took me to add this list before I got useful interest.
This tip is one of a few that I have used. For more you can check out the Kindle book “Physics Graduates, Don’t Fret About Finding A Job” on Amazon. Have a read of the book description and you’ll see how it can benefit you in finding a job, whether you are a new graduate or an experience physicist working in industry. It covers some other areas regarding how you “sell” you skills and how to test out your CV that you are sure to find useful.