Reading CVs – dodging butterflies and frogs

Written by: Dave Nicol
Published on: 8 Nov 2018

Frog and butterfly

Image: FrankWinkler / Pixabay

I’ve reviewed a lot of CVs since working as a manager – probably thousands. The latest campaign I was involved in attracted more than 50 résumés.

In reality, to scrutinise each one takes time – a lot of time. It also takes skill and (you guessed it) that’s one we’re not taught at college.

Here are a few tips that can save time in whittling down the numbers.

Be patient

Remember, your recruitment objective is to find the right person for the job, frequently in spite of his or herself – vets and nurses weren’t taught how to write a good CV (or good interview technique for that matter).

If you simply throw out a CV because it is too long or has been printed in a font you hate, you might just be throwing the best vet you never had in the bin.

So, forget the big business rules here – good vets often write awful CVs. It is a drudge to trawl through a large stack of CVs and, at times, it can seem hard to stay focused. That said, a few telltale signs I look for can be used to spot any potential banana skins.

Bounce practice butterflies

This is the CV that lists about 12 jobs, yet they’ve only been out of college for a year. They might be a locum, but then again…

Flick away career frogs

You know the ones. They’ve hopped not just from one job to the next, but from one career to the next.

My favourite is when someone leaves the profession to do something radically different, then arrives back in practice a year later. I’m thinking commitment issues and my practice isn’t a lily pad, so hop on, Kermit.

Beware gaps in the timeline

If I see a CV I like, I sketch a quick timeline of their career – especially if they’ve moved about a bit or been in the job for a while. Then I drop in the CPD training.

If there are gaps in the career, or the CPD stopped five years ago, that’s a red flag that needs explaining.

Use of the word ‘horse’ more than once

Okay, a little bit tongue in cheek, but my point is sometimes you’ll be faced with a very good CV from someone who seems to be very competent, but their resume has a tell-tale slant to their real career ambitions.

If your applicant has an equine background, likes to go eventing and has a horse stabled back home in the dales then you might do well to read between the lines and wonder if they are a great long-term fit for your small animal city practice.

Look out for patterns that give you clues as to underlying motivations and desires. The aim is to hire someone who will work for several years in harmony with you and your team.

Is your CV a newspaper front page?

I once received a CV that displayed all of a candidate’s career achievements, work history and development courses under headlines and covered in flashy pictures and words, all meticulously crafted to look like a tabloid newspaper front page.

In fairness, it did certainly get my attention, just for all the wrong reasons.

Thumbs up or down?

It’s a tricky balancing act between choosing wisely and wasting time when reviewing CVs in veterinary practice.

Remember, a CV is a document created by a candidate who wants you to see the best of them. As such, it is one of the least reliable pieces of information you have. Never make a decision based on this information alone.