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The Role of Technology in the Recruitment Process

14 August 2012

It may be an overused phrase, but there’s no getting away from it. Technology has changed our lives.

From cooking meals in minutes in a microwave, to talking, texting and e-mailing on the go from a mobile phone, to changing how oil and gas reserves are identified, developed and produced; technological innovation has had a huge impact on our daily activities.

It has also affected the way in which we apply for jobs. Gone are the days of handwriting application forms and sending them off in the post. E-mail and the internet have simplified the whole process.

However, technology is playing a bigger and more important part in the recruitment process than many applicants will be aware of.

The current nature of the job market means that recruiters are inundated with hundreds of applications for every job that is advertised; wading through these manually can be a time consuming process. As a result, many firms are now using CV screening computer software as their first line of defence.

So what is CV screening software, how does it work and what does it mean for job seekers? Jacqueline van den Akker of Aberdeen-based recruitment consultancy Inter-Services explains.

"The screener is a piece of computer software that scans a CV for keywords or phrases which are set by the recruiter,” says Jacqueline. "It operates in a similar way to an internet search engine, in that it searches a document to find matching words and terms.

"CV screeners are being used by recruiters as the first hurdle that applicants must cross in the recruitment process. So many people are applying for each job that going through every CV manually takes time. By utilising the screener we are able to narrow the field of candidates down quickly and effectively.

"The software automatically evaluates the match between the CV’s content and the requirements of the advertised position, and then rates all the CVs in a percentage ‘match’. The higher the match percentage, the more likely the CV will be progressed. Effectively, it is having the first say about whose CV should be read by human eyes.Although it sounds a bit unfair, it does in fact remove any potential personal bias.”

The software automates another part of a process that has become less paper-based in recent years.Many firms already encourage applicants to apply for jobs by e-mail and some insist on completing application forms on their website.

So what can job seekers do to ensure they end up in the yes pile and that their CV is scanned by human eyes as well an electronic set? Is it possible to outsmart the machine?

"The best way to ensure you make it into the yes pile is to prepare your CV specifically for the job you are applying for,” says Jacqueline. "It might take a little more time, but it could make all the difference. Employers are usually looking for specialists and not generalists for the role they’ve advertised, so make sure your CV meets their needs.

"CV screeners search for keywords. So it’s best to study the job description and company website for some important words, phrases or terminology and then work these into your CV a couple of times.

"Another mistake that is often made is using the exact same description for each position. In some cases where the functions are primarily the same, include any special projects or achievements to your description. For example, the description of a rig electrician’s role tends not to vary greatly, but if you worked on a specific upgrade, inspection or construction project, consider adding this to highlight your skills.”

For anyone writing their CV, Jacqueline has these tips:

  1. Create your CV in a text format without images or graphics. Screening software works on text recognition and images can confuse it, so don’t spend time inserting graphics that effectively become a waste of valuable space.
  2. Use conventional formatting and keep the style of the document simple. Using fancy fonts and colourful text can distract the eye.
  3. Check your spelling and grammar, and if possible get someone to read it over. A fresh pair of eyes can always pick up things that you don’t.
  4. Detail your work history in a chronological order and include job title, dates of employment, name of employer and a description of the role and responsibilities you held. Also, try not to have any gaps in your employment history.
  5. Include the name, location and type of installation, drilling rig, vessel and project that you’ve worked on, if it’s applicable. Bear in mind that some disciplines, like deckcrew/deckhand, will have different meanings in different sectors, so try to add a short description on duties performed to clarify your role.
  6. Only list any valid certificates and qualifications that you possess.
  7. Make sure you’ve included your address and have a professional looking e-mail address. If you’ve had your e-mail address for a long time make sure it is still appropriate; if your address was cheeky1@google or prtygrl@hotmail, is this still how you want to be known?
  8. Check there are no discrepancies in your CV as these can look suspicious and recruiters will pick up on them.
  9. Tailor your CV to the job you’re applying for and remember to include some keywords and phrases – don’t forget the obvious ones.

Jacqueline adds: "Although technology now plays a significant part in the recruitment process, it is very important that you get the basics of your CV right. Doing so will create a good first impression with your prospective employer.

"It is also worth remembering that employers may check for information about prospective candidates on social media websites. So ensure the details on your LinkedIn profile match your CV and there is nothing on your Facebook wall that you wouldn’t be happy for your Granny to see.”

For more information about Inter-Services, visit or telephone 01224 640600.