Screening CVs is a huge part of any recruiter’s job. It’s time-consuming, relentless and at times completely bloody overwhelming. Hands up anyone who’s felt the need for a stiff drink as early as 8am because of the sheer clutter in your inbox? You’re not alone.

But that doesn’t mean you can do it half-arsed.

Stories about bad candidate experiences are a dime a dozen. We all hear them, all the time. Perhaps, recruiting recruiters, we hear them more. Candidates flabbergasted by curt rejection emails, even though their background perfectly matches what an ad called for; or worse, radio silence. Never hearing anything back, ever, even after a polite follow-up or two. Dodged calls, ignored emails, false promises … we’ve all been there. And hell, I’m not perfect. Nobody is.

But we can do better. 

Sheer volume alone does not excuse poor attention. Transferable skills are a thing. I don’t know how to say this any way but bluntly, so I won’t try: Read every CV. At least the first couple of pages. Please. Remember there is a human at the other end of that document, often an angst-ridden one, who has worked really hard to make that document as good as they can. It might not look awesome to you – well, surprise, you see hundreds of these in a week. This person might only have ever seen their own CV. They don’t have access to the same yard-stick you do, so do them a favour and read their bloody CV, properly. Give it due consideration. Instead of skimming for “no, nope, no“, look for reasons why you should call this person. Consider their transferable skills. Open your mind a little. Then when you do speak, ask them questions. If you have any doubts, or you don’t see the relevance of their application, please – please – ask them. Do not, for the love of cheeses, just dismiss ’em. The sting is real, and often-times you’re shooting yourself in the foot. That could have been THE candidate … if only you’d allowed them five minutes to tell you why.

Obviously there are exceptions to this rule, lots of exceptions, and that’s where it becomes hard. I know, I know; candidates are far from blameless. So many mass-apply to the point where their job-seeking efforts could only be referred to as spam. If a role you’re working on has really specific prerequisites that are really specifically outlined, and there is clearly no correlation whatsoever, then of course an immediate rejection email is appropriate. I’m not suggesting we add hours of admin to our day to pander to time-wasters. But if it’s not immediately, glaringly, obviously irrelevant, then have the conversation.

I am working with so many skilled, qualified, capable, personable and frankly wonderful HR professionals who have suffered such awful candidate experiences recently for roles they seem really well-matched for, that it’s staggering. One, a high-level, well-regarded and highly respected leader within the industry, made a call to learn more about a role she’d seen advertised and was interrupted mid-sentence with a huffy, “I’ve just found you on LinkedIn. You’re too experienced,” to which she understandably asked for elaboration and got back, “Well, maybe if you dumbed down your CV?”

Another has relocated home to New Zealand following a long and prosperous career in Sydney and sadly found that nobody “gets” his experience. He’s not exactly right on paper, so somehow he’s not right at all. Understanding what he’s done, the relevance of that experience and how it might be translated and applied to the New Zealand market is apparently too difficult, and so into the too-hard-basket it goes. “You’re too HR,” he has even been told. When applying for HR roles.

Seriously guys, we can do better than this. As the gatekeepers to these roles, to these companies, we need to be really bloody good at the basics of sourcing and screening. If you don’t fully understand the role you’re recruiting, ask more questions. Job-shadow if you need to. Research. Talk to others in the industry. Be curious.

Be better.

And if you need good HR professionals, call me!!! I know of some absolute goodies going spare.

Natasha Foster

Natasha Foster

Recruitment Consultant at New Zealand firm Rice Consulting, shaking things up in the HR world. Photographer on the side, Te Reo student, rock climber and learner surfer. Most happy off the grid.

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