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Assessing A Curriculum Vitae

Although most people are truthful when composing their curriculum vitae (CV), some may be tempted to omit negative facts or to exaggerate their achievements. Analyze each CV carefully to help select interviewees, and prepare questions to ask them.

Analyzing the structure of a CV can tell you a lot about a candidate’s ability to organize and communicate a set of facts effectively. A well-structured CV will be concise, and normally no more than two pages in length. Usually, it will contain educational and career histories in reverse chronological order to emphasize the candidate’s most recent activities. Relevant skills are often highlighted. However, there are many ways of presenting a CV, and the most important factor to consider is whether a CV presents information in a logical and easily digestible form.

Once you have looked at the overall structure and style of a CV, examine the information provided. Consider whether the applicant’s qualifications and work experience are relevant and meet the required levels you are seeking. Does the candidate have any other useful skills? Does the CV contain any background information that builds up a picture of the candidate’s personality? Can you get an idea of the speed and direction of their career progress?

Breaks in chronology and inconsistencies in the facts provided may be a result of simple errors. On the negative side, however, they could provide clues to a candidate’s attempt to falsify or hide certain information. You must therefore carefully examine the chronology of the applicant’s educational and career achievements and ensure that all dates provided follow a logical sequence.

Are there any periods of time unaccounted for? For example, is there a gap from the end of one period of employment to the beginning of the next? Does any other information supplied, account for this gap? Do periods of employment overlap with periods in education? Be prepared to give applicants the benefit of the doubt, but compile a list of questions to help clarify inconsistencies.

Before deciding on candidates to shortlist for an interview, take the job specification and divide the criteria into essential and merely desirable. For example, how important is it that the recruit can speak one or more foreign languages? Should they have computer skills or you are ready to invest in training if they do not?  Ideal candidates who can fulfill all your criteria will be rare, so you must be prepared to be flexible at the selection stage.

It may be useful to discuss applications with trusted colleagues for their opinions when considering borderline candidates. Objective second opinions may help you decide to interview a seemingly unsuitable candidate who is in fact right for the job. Colleagues may also know of other opportunities for which the candidate could be considered.

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