Uploading Your CV Online – Is It Worth It?

I’ve normally been a bit dubious about the merits of uploading your CV to general jobs sites and expecting employers to do all the hard work of looking for you, particularly in a tough job market. I still think it’s a real long shot if you don’t already have experience or specialist skills which might be in demand. However, it may not be employers who are rummaging through those CVs – it’s probably more likely to be a recruitment agency, looking for the right candidates for jobs they’ve been asked to fill.

I recently met two consultants, Phillipa Kenyon (who covers Cambridge) and Sadia Razzaq (for the West Midlands) from specialist science recruitment agency, SRG, who gave me some interesting insights into how they sourced candidates.

Getting their attention
When they have a job to fill, obviously they trawl their own databases and contacts, but I was interested to learn that they did also use online databases, the ones where you can upload your CV. It does make sense when an agency is trying to source candidates with “hard to find” skills and experience – some good starting points are all those candidates who have at least gone to the trouble of writing a CV and putting it out there.

Where did they look?
Surprisingly (to me), they raved about CV Library, a site which, I’ll admit, I’d previously dismissed (I do like it when my preconceptions are challenged – that’s when you start to learn). They liked the range of candidates with specialist scientific skills on the site, but they also got crucial information, such as expected salary, how far candidates would travel and whether they were willing to relocate. None of these would normally appear on a CV, so the site collects this information when you register – now you can see why it’s so important to get this right when you’re looking for work.

The SRG consultants also looked on LinkedIn and at the Totaljobs database, but were less enthusiastic about other sites such as Monster and Jobsite. Obviously this is only one agency and other organisations will have different preferred sources. Talking to Matthew Rollinson from Search (scientific), he would use both Monster and Jobsite as well as Totaljobs – but his first call would be the candidates he already knows and works with. It just shows that it can pay to cover several bases.

Keep it current
Their strong advice was also to review your CV regularly and keep it updated with any changes. It’s particularly annoying for agencies (and potentially employers) if they contact you with a job in your salary range, only to find out that you’ve now got more experience and are only prepared to move for a much higher salary (plus you’ve also missed out on jobs outside your original preferred range).

What format should you use?
Again I was surprised when the SRG consultants said they preferred plain old Word format, rather than .pdf (which is what I would have suggested). However, they were happy to receive either, but the biggest no-no was telling them to pick up your CV from your Skydrive or other cloud storage account.

Security online
Make sure that any site where you upload potentially valuable personal information is going to take good care of it. If you have any doubts about the security or legitimacy of an online CV database, I’d just try some other sources.

Sometimes websites are just technologically naive. Some years ago, I came across a fairly amateurish environmental jobs site which would let me register as an employer, for no fee and with no checks, and search the CVs which had been uploaded – it’s a good check to do yourself if you have any doubts.

In other cases, professional looking sites may be created purely for the aim of harvesting personal information for identity fraud. These sites may look legitimate, but probably don’t have many web pages or much detail behind the “send us your CV/personal information”

Genuine professional office or someone’s back bedroom?
Dodgy sites may also be cagey about their physical location. At the Careers Service, we do some standard checks on vacancies we’ve been sent before advertising them, and we have been known to use Google Street View where addresses look rather dubious! However, we can’t guarantee that dodgy sites won’t slip through, so if you feel uncomfortable filling in your details online, trust your instincts and keep safe.