Updated: Nov 14, 2022
Employers are running the risk of missing out on fantastic candidates by not looking beyond the contents of a person’s CV!
Hiring Managers are under immense pressure to fill their vacancies quickly, and with the 'right' candidates. They are looking for someone who on paper has everything they think they need in order to perform well in the job, and this is their main focus when sorting through the applications. With so many CVs to sift through, the usual (but not correct) practice is to quickly reject every CV that doesn’t have the exact relevant previous experience for the role. Time is money, so why waste time calling candidates who haven’t worked in your industry before? It's easier to just reject these CVs, dismiss them as unsuitable and move on...
I get it, I really do... but what if some of those candidates had everything they needed in terms of their personality, enthusiasm and work ethic to be the perfect hire, with just a little guidance and training? In Sales for example, you can’t teach someone to be a natural communicator. You can give them product training, teach them how to pitch your product or service the way you want them to and help them hone their sales skills in general, but they must possess the likable personality, energy, drive and determination to want to do well in the first place. You can’t teach that! Why then, are so many sales people being immediately over-looked for roles just because they have sold in a different industry? They probably have bags of energy, customer service skills, out-standing work-ethic and sales experience that could easily be transferred over into your business. All they need is a chance (and some product training of course).
I recruited for a client at the end of 2019, who at the very beginning specified that suitable candidates would need to have come from a specific market background. They wanted people with high energy, lots of enthusiasm and personality. They needed people who were money motivated, highly ambitious and experienced in selling Business to Consumer. It soon became clear that the market wasn't offering quite what the client was looking for, in terms of previous experience selling in the relevant sector, for the basic salary they were offering. However, I did have some fantastic candidates who on paper didn’t look like the right fit, but in terms of their Sales skills I knew that with some product training they would be great at the job. After speaking with the candidates at great length and getting to know them in terms of their personality, motivators and career aspirations, I just knew the client would love them!
As I expected, when I initially sent the CVs over, the client immediately dismissed the candidates as being unsuitable. From just looking at the CVs alone, they had two main objections:
1) The candidates didn’t come from the relevant industry and
2) The candidates had Business to Business experience (B2B), not Business to Consumer (B2C).
Luckily, after speaking to the client and telling them how great the candidates had come across in their registrations, I managed to get them both an interview. The client was willing to trust my judgement on this occasion and at least give them a chance… We set up an initial interview over Teams, which was an opportunity for the client to meet them and see how they came across. This went really well and led to a second face to face interview at the office, ultimately resulting in two job offers and a very happy client! Not to mention two very happy candidates, who are still with this company to this day.
My point in telling you this is that based on their CVs alone, these two candidates were initially rejected!! On paper, they didn't look quite right... but a CV doesn’t tell the whole story about what a person is capable of and how they could work well in your business. If you’re selecting candidates to interview based solely on their CV, then you are potentially missing out on some amazing talent! What will be the cost to your business if you miss out on the hidden gems who could really add value and help your company grow? What will be the cost to your business if your competitors hire these candidates instead?! These Sales candidates did end up making a lot of money for my client and they contributed massively to their growth plans… but they nearly didn’t even get to meet them!
Here are my top 5 reasons to look beyond what’s on a CV:
1. Candidates will have adaptable and transferable skills which can be applied into your business. With the right training and guidance, they could turn out to be your best hire!
2. Candidates from industries that have suffered since covid may have been out of work for a while, which means they will be super eager to get into a new role. They’ll also give you 100% effort, as they will be so grateful for the opportunity.
3. You can’t gauge personality, energy or enthusiasm from a CV. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve spoken with amazing candidates who didn’t look ideal on paper, but whom I later placed with clients who were willing to see past this.
4. You can mould the candidate to suit your business. By this I mean that if the candidate hasn’t worked in your industry before, they won’t be coming in with any pre-conceived ideas about how to do things. They will be fresh and ready to learn things your way!
5. They can bring diversity to your team. All employers should be looking to encourage diversity, so thinking outside the box when it comes to industry experience is a great way to demonstrate this and become an employer of choice!
Personally, I've always believed in looking beyond a CV when recruiting for roles and I've been lucky over the years to work with some great clients who trust my opinion when I tell them I’ve found a gem. They are willing to put any pre-conceived ideas aside and look beyond the experience on paper, considering different industry experience and thinking outside the box.
If you have a vacancy in your business, I urge you to open your mind a little… Does the ideal candidate really need to tick every single box, or are some of these requirements "nice to haves?". Look more carefully when going through your applications or CVs online and deciding which candidates to spend your time calling and/or interviewing. It may take a little extra time to go out of your way to call a 'wildcard', but you never know who you may end up hiring!! If time is the issue, then out-source this job to a professional who will do this for you... Trust the opinions of any Recruiters you work with and try to put all closed ideas and judgments aside. Give more candidates a chance to show you who they are and what they can do! I'm sure you won't regret it.