How to Spot a Good Candidate with a Bad CV


Andrew FennellFounder of StandOut CV

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

When looking to find the ideal hire, simply searching for a perfect CV could result in missing out on some great candidates.

Article 3 Minutes
How to Spot a Good Candidate with a Bad CV

The truth is, some of the best untapped talent could be hiding underneath a bad CV. For this reason, it’s essential to go beyond the application and find out who’s behind the CV.

Here are 4 ways to spot a good candidate - even if they don’t have a stand out CV.

Look beyond formatting and grammar

A strong CV format that facilitates ease of reading can make your job as a recruiter a lot easier when finding the perfect candidate. But just because a candidate doesn’t know how to best present their experience, doesn’t mean they’re not worth considering.

Firstly, reflect on the role you’re recruiting for. Not all positions will require a candidate to have excellent written communication, so you shouldn’t judge them entirely on their spelling and grammar. For example, a candidate could have the necessary experience and skills to make them suitable for engineering positions, but they may just lack the knowledge of how to produce an eye-catching CV.

If the skills and experience are there but the CV lacks professionalism, try to look beyond the errors or formatting issues, and instead, examine whether they match your role specifications.

Pick up the phone

When reviewing CVs, it’s vital to look for a candidate’s potential. So, when you’re deciding whether a candidate matches your role specifications, consider picking up the phone to find out more about them.

If their CV isn’t clear, question them about their experience and skills, further exploring what makes them the ideal candidate. A candidate may not have thought to add certain information to their CV, but a quick phone conversation could clarify if they’re worth pursuing further.

Next time you’re unsure about a candidate, don’t risk losing out on a great applicant - pick up the phone.

Check their LinkedIn profile

LinkedIn is a great platform to help you delve deeper into a candidate’s application, allowing you to find out additional information about their experience.

Firstly, review their profile to obtain further details about their work history, marketable skills and educational background.

LinkedIn profiles also allow you to review testimonials or endorsements from a candidate’s previous employer or colleagues. Endorsements from a prior client complimenting a candidate’s communication skills, sales ability or relationship building, for example, act as a real-life example of how they’d perform in a similar role.

Also, review their activity on LinkedIn such as pages they follow and statuses they post – it could help you to further establish their relevance for your position.

Speak to references

When looking to acquire further justification about a candidate’s skills and experience, don’t limit your search to LinkedIn. References are a great way to find out more about a candidate, as well as confirming the information within their CV.

References can provide a valuable insight into a candidate’s soft skills, such as whether they’re hardworking, dedicated or have the right technical skills for the role. Some employers may only clarify dates of employment, so personal references could be an additional method to confirm a candidate’s suitability for a position.

Some applicants may find it difficult to sell themselves within their CV, but references are more likely to give an accurate reflection of their strengths.

How to spot a good candidate with a bad CV

A CV is a candidate first impression, but you shouldn’t be ruling out candidates based entirely on their application.

Use a candidate’s CV as an opening for further conversation, questioning their relevant experience and skills, rather than dismissing them at first glance.

So, next time you’re recruiting, look beyond what’s written and instead focus on the skills you’re looking to attract.

Andrew Fennell

Andrew Fennell is the founder of CV writing advice website StandOut CV. He's a former recruitment consultant and contributes careers advice to websites like Business Insider, The Guardian and FastCompany.


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