Avoid common resume mistakes that put you out of the race before it even begins.
What’s that old saying? “Opportunities don’t come knocking on the door?” Well, in today’s world of e-recruitment, that may not strictly be true.
With the likes of LinkedIn, CV-Library, BD4Jobs, and Archinect at our fingertips, it is now easier than ever to make yourself available to recruiters and employers who will bring opportunities to you. But are you making yourself seen above and beyond the competition and to the right people?
Claire Colley, Director & Founder of Planning Recruitment specialists in Architecture and Interior Design Recruitment, draws upon her 20+ years of experience recruiting for the Design industry, and gives her advice on how to be seen, in the enduring post-lockdown workscape of e-recruitment.
This blog will highlight the common mistakes job seekers make when marketing themselves online and teaches you how to optimise your CV ensuring you are seen every time by specialist recruiters with the best opportunities.
What does the post-lockdown work world look like now?
It’s unprecedented. In the twenty years I have worked in the architectural recruitment industry, I have never seen anything like it. Employers and candidates have opportunities available to them like never before. With hybrid and remote working, and virtual interviewing and onboarding, it is now perfectly feasible to work for a company outside of your normal commutable area, without having to relocate. Which means that when candidates search online for jobs, the opportunities that are returned to them are more varied, wider reaching, and more abundant than ever before.
But the opposite is also true. For each position available, candidates are no longer just competing with those qualified for the role who live in the area or will relocate. The competing talent pool is now national, global even. Therein lies a new challenge for those searching for their dream job. How can they stand out in a seemingly infinite pool of qualified candidates? To answer that, it’s important to understand how employers and recruiters find suitable candidates.
How do employers and recruiters search for candidates?
Popular e-recruitment platforms like LinkedIn, CV-Library, Indeed, BD4jobs in the UK, and Archinect in the US, enable recruiters and employers to search thousands of resumes almost instantly. It’s an incredible advancement compared to when I started in architectural recruitment in 2001 – I remember when we used to fax CVs to our clients! As recruiters, we have gone from having a respectable but comparatively limited pool of active registered candidates to, today, having hundreds of potentially suitable candidates for each role.
In an industry where reactivity, quality and speed are critical, we need an efficient way to sift out unsuitable candidates in favour of those that meet the role and client requirements. That’s where Boolean search comes in.
What is Boolean search?
All recruitment agencies, job boards, CV search engines, and even client online portals use Boolean search. It is a rule-based search structure that enables us to pinpoint only those resumes with the very specific set of skills, experience, and qualifications that match the role.
CV search engines are great, but there is a caveat. As with most technology, the output is entirely dependent on the input. Boolean search is completely reliant on effective and quality keyword indexing and we are seeing an increasing number of candidates with the right skills and right experience for jobs, being overlooked because of simple errors they are making when uploading their CVs or creating their LinkedIn profiles. It means that they just aren’t coming up in searches, even for roles they would be perfect for.
How can people give their CVs the best chance of being found?
CV search engine software scans your resume for keywords. If your keywords cannot be indexed or are absent, then you will not come up in searches and you will miss out on potentially great opportunities.
The first thing to check, and the issue we see coming up the most with architectural and creative professional’s CVs, is the file format. If the search software cannot scan your CV file, then it cannot index your skills and experience. Your resume is essentially invisible.”
What format is best for a CV upload?
Search software can struggle to scan CVs that:
Are in a PDF format.
Have imagery on.
I recommend that you produce your CV as a Word document and upload a password-free, picture-free version. You can send us your PDF format with your project images on, as this is the format that we will use when presenting you to clients. Our best candidates have both versions. As a rule: think PDFs and pictures for people, but a simple Word format for software.
Keywords tips for CVs.
In a system designed around keyword search, they’ll be no surprise that my next tip is get your keywords right.
Be descriptive and detailed. The more descriptive words you have on your resume or profile, the more chances you have of appearing in employer and recruiter searches for relevant positions. Make sure your CV and profile are a detailed representation of you describing your experience, responsibilities, and achievements for all the projects you’ve worked on. Include the sectors you’ve worked in, and what roles you’ve played at what stages. Make sure your keywords comprehensively describe your relevant skills, qualifications, training courses attended, and software and applications you’ve used. Include your previous job titles, how you describe yourself, and what your key, soft and core skills are.
Make sure your keywords are spelt correctly. A human can determine what you meant despite your misspelling, but software will simply ignore it and eliminate you from searches that you should have been in.
Use standardised terminology. You may have worked in companies who used non-standard language for your industry. If you think this may be the case, look up job specs, CVs, and the profiles of people who do your role. Pick out the standard terminology and add it to your resume and profile.
Include acronyms and long-text. Include acronyms or abbreviations and be sure to also spell them out in full. You don’t know which version the recruiter/ employer will enter into their search criteria, so it’s best to have all bases covered.
Repetition. Search software not only indexes the presence of keywords but also the frequency. The software determines that the more times the same keyword is identified, the more experience that candidate has in that area. Then, CVs rich in that keyword will return as more relevant in the search results, appearing closer to the top. Therefore, don’t be afraid to repeat your keywords. Use the personal profile to highlight your skills, qualifications, experience, and accomplishments and to get an extra keyword count in.
Now you have your comprehensive, killer keywords all indexed correctly and you’re coming up in plenty of searches. The next stumbling block we see all too often is the absence of contact details.
What contact details should I include on my CV and LinkedIn profile?
As a minimum, include your name, email address or contact number, and where you live. If you make yourself easy to contact, then you will be contacted more often. Remember, whatever time it takes for a recruiter to get hold of you is time your competitors are being submitted for the job you may want.
Why do I need to include my address on my CV?
It may not seem important in the current workspace to include your postcode. And you may think that by excluding it you will be considered for all roles. But, some roles are still geographically dependent. When we search for candidates for these roles, we add a radius criterion to the search. For example, we may only want candidates within a twenty miles radius of our client’s office. If you have no address details on your CV it doesn’t mean that you will come up in all searches, it means that for all the searches that include a geographical radius element, you will come up in none. Your perfect role could be a couple of minutes down the road from you, and without your postcode on your CV you may never know.
Is there anything else I can do to stand out against all the other CVs?
Thousands of recruiters and employers are running searches on CV-Library and LinkedIn every day. Every working minute, candidates found on these platforms are being contacted for roles. Many are roles that haven’t been advertised yet. My final tip, to give yourself the best chance against your competition, is to keep your profile and CV fully up to-date and complete. Imagine finishing a training course one day, updating your resume in the evening, and being contacted for an exciting opportunity the following morning by someone who just happens to need your new set of skills. The sooner you update your CV the sooner you leave the competition behind.
Get help from the experts.
Once you have made your changes, send your optimised CV to firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Optimise’ in the subject line and the team at Planning Recruitment will happily run your new & improved Architectural CV through our database and let you know how visible you are in searches.
Employers reportedly spend an average of eight seconds reviewing a CV. Whilst this review-time is longer for Recruitment Consultants, they are still sifting through hundreds of resumes at a time. Help yourself to be found by following the tips above. Because, once you have your descriptive, well indexed, up-to-date CV and LinkedIn profile, you should be able to just sit back and relax as employers, recruiters, and opportunity comes knocking at your door.