Years ago, when CVs were still sent to employers through the post, job seekers hoped details like a high-quality paper stock and unique, professional formatting would catch the eye of an employer. These days, things are a little different.
First of all, it’s rare that employers even accept paper CVs anymore. Second, and more importantly, it’s not even the employer’s eye that job seekers should hope in the first instance to catch nowadays – more likely, they’re trying to get noticed by an applicant tracking system – essentially a CV search engine – commonly used by employers to screen CVs and separate the qualified candidates from the unqualified ones.
This digitised version of candidate screening brings with it a whole new set of CV rules. Now, CVs are downloaded into a database and digitally searched for specific keywords. If your CV doesn’t contain the terms being searched for, consider yourself out of the running.
So how can you ensure your CV makes it past square one? Here are our 3 top tips that every Chef job seeker should know about CV keywords:
1. Include words from the job description
More than likely, many of the keywords that CV databases will be searching for are the functions that are listed in the job description. For example, if you’re looking for a Head Chef position and the job description calls for someone with experience managing menu creation and budgeting, then all of those words should appear in your CV.
An even better way to make sure you include relevant keywords is to look at various job postings for positions similar to the one you’re applying for. For example, a Pastry Chef might find seasonal menu development, section management and working with the Head Chef in most job postings for a position at their level. Job hunters can also search through LinkedIn profiles of other professionals in their field to gather even more keywords.
2. Always assume an applicant tracking system will scan your CV
Companies both large and small are using keyword-search software in their hiring processes these days, so it’s important to make sure you always send out a search-ready CV. While applicant tracking systems are more common in large corporations, due to the volume of CVs received and the impossibility of reviewing them all manually, some smaller companies may also have installed these systems to help with hiring, so you’ll never know if your CV actually needs to pass a keyword scan, so it should be ready for this step.
3. Don’t rely on a list of keywords
While adding a “skills” section to your CV is an easy way to make sure keywords are included, this list alone is usually not enough to get noticed by the search engine.
Be sure that this common suite of keywords is used in your CV, but not merely in a list. Many ATS systems look for the frequency of keywords that are sprinkled throughout the text of a CV, rather than listed altogether. Therefore, ‘Developed an on budget / margin seasonal dessert menu with my team in response to a brief from the Head Chef, that resulted in a 20% increase in dessert sales over previous quarter’ will not only impress the recruiter, but fulfill the keyword requirements at the same time.
Lastly, be sure that your CV doesn’t completely abandon the qualities it takes to attract the human eye. Like any other marketing effort, a job search is most effective when you plan to address the needs of all audiences you might encounter. Your chances of being selected for an interview are much higher when your CV satisfies both audiences – automated and human.