Seven reason why sifting CVs for recruitment is bad for your health

April 14, 2023

At a recent networking event, I met a senior HR manager and, noticing that I was from eTalent, he asked me what I did.

“We’ve developed some software that helps companies select the best people for a variety of front-line jobs”, I said.

“Ah, one of those devilishly clever “CV reading” systems, eh?” he guessed. I was about to tell him all about our psychometric testing, but there was no stopping him. So he went on.

“Yes, these systems can save a huge amount of time by weeding out the CVs of clearly unsuitable people. A friend of mine has just invested thousands in just such a system, and he tells me that he simply doesn’t know how he ever managed without it. He’s the recruitment manager of a large retail chain and gets literally tens of thousands of applications every year, mostly, he says, from people who have had no previous retail experience.

“Why people apply for jobs for which they simply aren’t qualified beats me! It clearly says in the job description that the successful applicant will have at least three years of retail sales experience.”

“Ah, yes,” I replied, “Previous sales experience must be very important then?”

“No, not really. They get full training during the induction period. It’s just my friend’s way of cutting down the number of applicants down to a manageable size,” he grinned. “Between you and me, he says that it’s often not very successful because people with previous experience sometimes come with bad habits and a poor attitude!”

“So, let me get this right,” I said. “Previous experience is not really important, but a good attitude is. And your friend is still screening CVs to select the best people to interview. That sounds a bit back-to-front to me, don’t you think?”

“Well, when you put it that way, it does seem a bit odd. But how else could he deal with 30,000 applicants each year? He’s got to be able to cut the numbers down to a manageable figure in some way. And, in any case, there’s a lot more useful information on a CV to be able to base a decision on than just retail sales experience.”

And that’s where we left it. But then it hit me. There must be a huge number of companies out there to this day, still using CVs to select people for interviews, simply because “that’s the way we’ve always done it”, without stopping to think that they are doing their recruitment back to front.

If attitude is important, why is selection driven primarily by education, experience, and past job history?

They’re doing the recruitment equivalent of looking for girls with blond hair by asking for their shoe size! So, let’s look at:


7 Reasons Why Screening CVs Is Inefficient


1. It’s a very time-consuming process

It stands to reason that, even if you do use one of the fancy “CV reading” systems to identify “suitable candidates”, having to read the often lengthy and inconsistently presented CVs of several applicants to compare them is going to be a very long and frustrating process.


2. Contains errors and half-truths

I don’t think it would be unreasonable to say that it is a generally held view that CVs need to be taken with a large pinch of salt. In fact, a large proportion of the interview is usually devoted to checking what is in the CV, and candidates are often rejected when it becomes clear to the interviewer that a lot of it is a work of fiction.


3. Gives only a small part of the picture

Education, experience and job history often play only a small part in the overall recruitment decision, except in highly technical jobs. Selecting a short-list based only on the CV means that you could be potentially missing out on the best candidate simply because they didn’t write their CV in the “right” way.


4. No insight into soft skills

CVs will tell you nothing about the candidate’s soft skills – their personality, values and attitudes, and strengths and weaknesses. You won’t understand how they handle pressure or get a picture of their transferable skills. A candidate’s CV makes it impossible to know whether they’ll fit into the team. It’s often said that employers “hire for skills, but fire for attitude, ” so wouldn’t it be good to hire for attitude instead?


5. Past success is no guarantee of future success

It’s often said that past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour, and that can be true. However, that statement hides a very big assumption.

To guarantee that behaviour will be replicated, all other things must remain constant – the job, the line manager, the team, the company culture, the location, the list is almost endless. Clearly, most other things will not be constant, so there is little guarantee that past success will lead to future success.


6. Difficult to compare applicants using CVs

When writing their CVs, job seekers are obviously trying to increase their chances of “standing out from the crowd” and getting an interview. This often means that you will face a wide variety of CV formats and styles, making it very difficult to compare one candidate with another.


7. Candidates use professionally prepared CVs

These days, people often have their CVs professionally written to make the best impression on potential employers. Their CV might be written to directly appeal to your job advert to increase the chances of piquing your interest.

While it is natural for applicants to want to do as well as possible, it, unfortunately, masks the true skills and abilities that they possess. A well-written CV may lead you to think that the applicant has good writing skills, but this may not be the case. Professionally written CVs have only one purpose – to give the applicant the best chance of getting an interview. They are not intended to make the recruiter’s job easier.


So, what’s the alternative?

Our team has painstakingly developed our eTalent recruitment tool, which is designed to simplify the screening process and make it far easier to find qualified candidates for your job vacancy.

Our system is more than an applicant tracking system. Using psychometric testing, you’ll be given an insight into your applicant’s habits, work ethic, problem-solving skills and personality. Our software allows you to define what you consider the ideal candidate for the job role and will then rank them in order of who is most suitable for the position.

eTalent offers up a glimpse of the person behind the CV, but it makes the recruitment process smoother, easier, and more efficient. From posting the job ad to managing the talent pool to scheduling next stage interviews, eTalent software does it all with the click of a button.

In conclusion, a lot of resume screening software out there claims to make the hiring process easier but actually makes it more challenging to find the right candidate in the long run. We acknowledge that the CV processing system is simply outdated and doesn’t give you a true-to-life impression of what that candidate is actually like.

So, if you’re looking for an efficient, effective and easy way to improve your recruitment process with the traditions of CV sifting, don’t hesitate to contact us today.