After submitting a CV, it’s a bit of a mystery what journey our piece of A4 paper goes on. From the applicant’s point of view, a CV is submitted and - with a bit of luck - after a week or two, they might receive a phone call asking them to come in for an interview.
But what happens to your CV during this time and who’s looking at your CV after submission?
Understanding who might look at your CV can ensure you target each potential reader, giving you the very best chance of getting the job. To help, below we’ll discuss some of the people who might look at your CV and what they’re looking for.
CV target audience
How many hands your CV passes through depends on the size of the organisation you’ve applied to. A smaller company might see your CV handed directly to management for reading. A larger company will likely mean your CV undergoes several rounds of viewing before you get a phone call or email.
In any case, you can expect at least one of the following to look at your CV during its journey from Microsoft Word to the recycling bin:
If you’re applying to a mid-size to large company in a competitive field, expect your CV to be fed through Applicant Tracking Software (ATS).
ATS systems are used to help companies sift through lots of applicant CVs, pinpointing the most promising candidates automatically. This can save companies time and money and is becoming increasingly common.
Do some research on the company you’re applying to and deem whether they might be using ATS systems in their hiring campaign. If you believe ATS might be used do the following to appease the system:
- Use the job title in your resume, preferably as a heading
- List the exact skills required in the job listing
- Make your resume easy to scan-read
A hiring manager is a team leader looking to fill a job vacancy with a promising candidate. They have the power to say yes or no to hiring applicants and will often be spoilt for choice so your CV really needs to shine to impress. If employed, the hiring manager is typically your boss.
Hiring managers will read a lot of CVs and are experts at spotting issues such as gaps in your work history or if you’re lacking the required skills. Making sure your CV is as cohesive as possible with accurate, relevant information is essential for any application, but especially so with hiring managers.
Hiring managers will ideally be looking for relevant experience in previous roles that you can bring with you. Ensure you include the following in your CV for hiring managers:
- Use role overview paragraphs summarising responsibilities.
- Include concrete examples of improvements, efficiencies, and growth in the role.
- Use numbers and figures.
Some firms will use dedicated recruiters to find new employees. It’s the job of a recruiter to find candidates who have a lot to offer a company.
Recruiters might be tasked with the job of filling a specific job vacancy or simply sourcing talent that can benefit the organisation as a whole. Ideally, recruiters will seek to tick both these boxes so it’s important to keep both the specific role and the company as a whole in mind.
Sometimes, recruiters will post job listings without stating the company. This is a recruitment method to ensure applicants genuinely meet expectations and are unable to conduct outside research on what’s expected.
Some organisations such as charities will use their Human Resources (HR) team to locate prospective employees. This means your CV will sometimes be read by those trained in human resources.
Human resource staff tends to focus on ensuring the company and the employee are a good fit for one another. Properly trained HR staff will give both the company and the candidate’s well-being equal measure. HR staff might be acquainted with the role you’ve applied for, but not necessarily know it intimately.
As HR staff are not always trained in recruitment, you can expect ATS systems to be used more extensively. Ensuring your CV is packed with relevant keywords is vital, therefore.
For high-level positions, you can expect senior management to also take a look at your CV or receive a summarised report from a recruiter.
In such roles, senior management might want to oversee some of the recruitment processes to ensure a business is in good hands. You may not know if a CV is read by senior management but it’s good practice to always write with them in mind.
Things to consider
Do your research: While you might not really know every set of eyes looking at your CV, you can research the company using Google, LinkedIn, and their own website to get an idea.
If the company is small, expect hiring managers and even senior management to be involved. For mid-size and large companies, expect HR and recruiters to also be added to the mix.
Look at email addresses: contact email addresses can help give you a clue about who’s going to look at your CV.
Email addresses that have a domain matching the name of the company you’re applying to will indicate you’re dealing with an in-house HR staffer or a hiring manager.
Email addresses that do not have a matching domain might mean you’re dealing with an outside recruitment agency.
Signs of an ATS system: while ATS systems are now a lot more common, they’re not universally used. However, if you find the application process involves answering a host of binary or multiple-choice questions, ATS is likely being used to screen applicants and their CVs.
Use keywords and numbers: whether you’re dealing with an ATS system or not, you want your CV to be easy to read and able to be grasped with a glance. This means using numbers and keywords throughout, keeping things as relevant as possible.
Knowing who might be reading your CV can help you target specific types of people involved in the recruitment process. While a good CV will shine in any case, little tweaks can make all the difference, giving you an advantage that can ultimately put you ahead of the competition.