This could be the reason why your CV is being deleted

by Chris Tang in Blog

DatePosted on December 10, 2014 at 05:45 PM
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It’s all too familiar a bugbear of hiring managers. They take the time and effort to draft and issue a detailed job description of the vacancy. The briefing sets out the nature of the work, the exciting challenges and prospects facing the successful candidate and the skills and experience required of the candidate.  So why doesn’t the CV/resume match their job description (JD)?

To you, it looks like the perfect fit.  On paper, at least it does.  The organisation looks great, the job description seems really interesting, and it’s an opportunity to try your hand in a new working environment you know has won lots of awards.  Is it really that easy for your application to be overlooked? 

Let’s take a look at one example.  Below are key requirements of a vacancy for a qualified lawyer.  But you can replace this with Company Secretary, Compliance Manager or any other category of profession you fit into.

In this example, the role you’ve seen requires:

• a Hong Kong admitted lawyer
• with 4-6 years PQE in [insert your relevant practice area] or, for US qualified lawyers, the class year of admission to the Bar
• from an international law firm [in Hong Kong]
• with Chinese language skills, and
• experience of handling complex matters [in your practice area] in the PRC.

The job and the organisation seem like a more enticing proposition and there’s an improved title available to you.


You send your CV to the hiring manager, and wait. 

And wait.  And you wait. 

Then you call up the hiring manager to see if there is any news. And you get the response, “I’m sorry, we are only seeking Hong Kong-qualified lawyers for this role.” 

But you ARE Hong Kong qualified!  Didn’t they see it?  It’s clearly written on your CV over here.…

Oh wait, you forgot to add in a section called “Professional Qualifications” at the top of the first page of your CV. Or maybe you simply assumed that they knew when it would be based on your work chronology? Believe me when I say this is an all too common omission in CVs.

Or if you did have such a section, chances are, you put your qualifications at the BOTTOM of the LAST page of your 6-page CV.

And you wonder why you didn’t get feedback?

Here lies the greatest danger in CV/resume writing.  And that’s when you assume that the reader knows what you mean by what you say (or don’t say). 

Your title may be “Associate” in an international law firm. But in what month and year did you qualify?  In which jurisdiction?   Did you actually write down your title in your CV?  In many instances, given the sheer volume of CVs hitting the in-box of the HR manager, you may have less than 1 second to make an impact.  Decisions on whether to invite you to an interview or not rests on incredibly fine lines based on the following factors.


We discussed in a previous article that employers are increasingly automating the search function of the dozens of CVs that they may receive for a role. If the search result doesn’t highlight that you don’t have the qualification required, you may not even turn up on that search result.

A quick eye

But not all organisations will have such tools readily available.  So where they don’t have a sophisticated electronic database to conduct candidate searches and instead, CVs and resumes are scanned manually for relevancy, the hiring manager will first run through a checklist of the key qualification requirements before focusing on the detail of your experience and achievements to date.  

If you're applying for an in-house role, many HR managers aren't familiar with the day-to-day duties of a lawyer (particularly as there may only be one in-house lawyer for their company, so legal roles rarely appear for them to review).  Moreover, in any organisation, there is a risk that your CV is being reviewed by a junior HR coordinator who may not have the knowledge or experience to identity the nuances of your profile.  

In both instances, the inexperience of the person reviewing your CV may mean your application is overlooked.  This is where a professional recruiter can assist to clarify and elaborate on a person's profile so that no matter who at the employer is reviewing the CVs, the employer will be better informed to make a decision on your suitability for the role. 

Make it obvious, stupid!

If you don’t get through the first stage of the process or it takes longer than usual to find your qualifications and language capability, chances are, your CV/resume could end up in the recycle bin of the reader's desktop. So remember, (a) spell it out and (b) put it at the top of your CV.

Make clear the country/jurisdiction and date (MM/YYYY) of qualification as well as your language skills at the head of your CV so that the hiring manager can explore more of your work history.

About the Author

Chris Tang

Chris is a co-Managing Director of Star Anise and a former practising corporate lawyer. He is a regular post contributor on LinkedIn and you can connect with him here:

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