Chris Tsang Star Anise In-House Community Optimize your CV-001

Is your CV optimised?

By Chris Tang, Star Anise

Star Anise In-House Community

If you were to review your CV against the job description that interests you, how well would it fare on an objective test of relevancy? The reason this question is raised is because increasingly fewer first stage reviews of CVs are conducted manually, ie sifted through by hand. Rather, many large organisations and recruitment firms are using sophisticated databases to conduct a first stage filter of the most suitable CVs for a job.

It’s similar to finding a newspaper article online, where you try to seek out a news item on say, the top 3 scorers at the football World Cup in 1998. You would insert various key words in the search bar in the hope that the search results will bring up the most relevant results, with the most heavily weighted (ie, relevant) at the top of the first page. In the same way, a search using these powerful recruitment database tools will be based on key words and phrases which match closely to the job description. So the closer that the profile on your CV matches the job description provided, the higher your chances are of being shortlisted for interview.

So, if you answer, “I’m not sure” to the opening question of how relevant would your CV be [compared to the job description], what steps can you take to make it relevant?

A free online CV comparison tool called might just give you the answer. And here’s how.

A lawyer’s case study
There are a plethora of online research tools on the market for case law and legislation, such as Lexis Nexus, Westlaw and Practical Law. As practising lawyers, you will be familiar with these and in some practice areas, you’ll be using these and other online legal database tools on an almost daily basis.

So in this scenario, imagine that you need to find case law in your client’s favour that relates to the rights of third parties who are beneficiaries of an insurance contract for a shipping company. You input various key words, such as, *insurance, *third parties, *benefit, *privity of contract, *incoterms, *rights, *contract, *agreement, *marine, *ship, *shipping, *dispute, *freight and so on. If your initial search produces 1,000s of results that are specific to your case, you won’t have the luxury of time to read through each and every single result.

You have to refine your search to capture better results.
So you insert additional key words and phrases, such as *injunction, *limit, *limitation, *exclusion, *damages, and *preclude, as well other words that are specific to your client’s requirements. Obviously the more refined your search criteria, the higher the chance you will find what you’re looking for. The results are then ranked in terms of relevancy and naturally you will click into the strongest results.

In the same manner, recruitment search tools used by recruiters and in-house talent acquisition teams operate in the same manner.

Your profile may be perfect for a role you just saw on a jobs board or one that’s been discussed with you by your recruiter. However, unless you are frequently using specific words or phrases in your CV profile that match those with the job description (and such words or phrases are commonly used in your field), your CV might just go unnoticed.

The recruitment industry goes through a blistering pace because so many applications are being received daily. It’s not enough to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Arguably, the first objective you need to achieve is to make sure you are as relevant to the role as possible to even be considered among the competition in the first place. A new online analytical tool for your CV/resume
Thankfully, you now have the ability to see your CV in a way that recruiters do. There is now a free online analytical tool called which you can use to compare your very own CV against an employer’s job description. Remarkably, this will give you instant and objective feedback on the relevancy of your CV profile against the job description in question.

The results of this test will point to parts of your CV that are deficient in detail compare with the job description. You, the writer of the CV, may be so engrossed on the detail of one aspect of your CV, you neglect to add other relevant parts in. So, the original version of your CV may not show up as clearly as it should on a database search even though you have a lot of experience in a particular area. For example, you may have years of management experience but if you lightly touch upon it or you don’t mention that you are managing a team at all, how will anyone know? In this case, if management experience is expressed as a requirement for the job, you may not even be shortlisted for first round review.

It really does boil down to these fine degrees of detail that could set you apart from your competitors and mean the difference between attending the first round interview and not being considered at all.

Other points to consider:
Where certain functions or practice areas have different ways of saying broadly the same thing, consider using a general spread of both terms in your CV, e.g. real estate and commercial property, capital markets and corporate finance, IPO with ECM and DCM, Equity Capital Markets and Debt Capital Markets with ECM and DCM respectively;

Avoid using acronyms generally unless it’s so common that even job descriptions (JD) tend to use them. So RE (Real Estate) or CP (Commercial Property) aren’t commonly used in a JD, whereas IP (Intellectual Property) or IPO (Initial Public Offering) are, but remember still to use the full spelling in there and define the term, e.g. first reference to “Initial Public Offering (“IPO”)”, which enables you to use IPO as a shorthand throughout the remainder of the document.

If you have both Cantonese and Mandarin/Putonghua skill sets, spell it out! Don’t just write Chinese. The majority of roles prefer candidates to have English, Cantonese and Mandarin, others are fine with English and Mandarin or English or Cantonese. So give this online tool a try, revise your CV, and run it through this tool again to test your profile’s relevancy.
Review, refine.
Then, review and refine again.

Of course, employers are increasingly attracted to ‘achievements-based CVs’, so there is a need to balance the key words with your track record and outstanding accomplishments.

Make the statistics count. This could be the game changer you’ve been looking for.

Chris Tang is a co-Managing Director of Star Anise and a former practising corporate lawyer.Chris Tsang Star Anise In-House Community

[email protected]

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