Emerging Team

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How to read a CV

Matt Buckland

Head of Talent @ Lyst

If you're going to hire, you're going to read a stack of CVs. Here's how to maximise your odds of finding the right candidate.

Key takeaways

  • Look for skills and achievements, rather than the detail of where somebody has worked;
  • Look for people who enjoy what they do.

The are two important things to realise about CVs:

  • Firstly they're for screening out, not for making final decisions. It's important not to make assumptions as to candidate fit based purely on their CV.
  • Secondly, it's important to realise that the CV represents how a candidate wants to present themselves to you as an employer. It's not just a document listing their former employers and their educational experience.

Here are some helpful factors to consider when you're reading a CV:

Look for themes of skills. Don't be bogged down by where someone has worked or the title of the role they held. Instead look for the work they did and the goals they achieved.

What else can they bring? In a startup we often have to wear a number of different hats. The Product Manager who has a background as a developer could be a great addition to your team and offer a deeper understanding of the technical constraints in building your next feature.

Look for people that enjoy what they do. When did their interest in their craft begin? Have they been coding since eight years old? What hobbies/extracurriculars/personal projects are listed? Does the writing convey any emotion/enthusiasm? Do they introduce themselves in a way that is compatible with your company culture and the culture you're trying to build?

Don't be put off by scrappy formatting. Since CVs can come through a number of sources, who knows what systems and processes will have mangled them before they land on your desk. Spelling issues might be a cause for concern but make sure you're not missing out on someone who speaks English as a second language. However, if a CV is riddled with mistakes it should be a quick no.

What evidence of achievement is displayed? Look for awards, test scores, academic organisations, etc.

What technologies/tools do they use? Does it speak to the level of sophistication with their craft? Are they a creator or builder, or do they just maintain pre-existing projects?

Team diversity: What kind of experiences have they had? Do they seem well-rounded? What perspective would this person bring? Is their background the same or very similar to all the other members of the existing team? Diverse teams – in terms of gender, ethnicity and social background – take more effort to establish at first, but are more likely to be high performing.

Useful links

Matt Buckland

Head of Talent @ Lyst

Over fourteen years experience in the design and implementation of Human Resources and Recruitment strategies, from sourcing initiatives, recruitment process re-engineering, HRIS selection and implementation, Reward and Recognition, Performance Management and OKR implementation, usage of a metrics led approach and building teams of recruiters that drive up quality and drive down costs. I have successfully recruited for many areas - software development, trading, financial services and sales.

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