Talent Acquisition

Is It OK to Edit a Candidate’s CV?

When reviewing CVs, adapting applications prior to submitting them to employers, has become common practise for most recruiters. But as a recruiter should you be amending information on behalf of a candidate, or is it better to submit the CV a candidate created with no rewrites?

Reflecting on a balance between minor tweaks and CV overhauls is key to knowing whether you’re helping to boost a candidates details, or actually hindering their chances later in the recruitment process.

Below we are discussing whether editing a candidate’s CV is the right practise to implement into your CV sift.

Do you have their permission?

Prior to making any amends to a candidate’s CV, you should be looking to seek their permission. If they aren’t willing to agree to any changes then you should either look to submit their CV as is or give them suggestions on how they could improve their CV themselves.

If you aren’t able to reach the candidate for any reason, then potentially look at only making minor changes that don’t alter the overall context of the CV. For example, adjusting any grammar mistakes or looking to add headers/sections to help vital information stand out. But it’s important to know where to stop, and knowing the fine line between tidying up a CV and completely rehashing it, is essential.

If a candidate is happy to accept changes, then go ahead and help them put their best foot forward with an engaging and attractive CV. Consider following up with the candidate to make them aware of what changes have been made, especially before any client interviews. This will help ensure that they aren’t caught off guard in a future interview if the employer brings up any of these changes.

How much are you changing?

If you are going to edit a CV, make sure you aren’t completely revamping it. The experience and qualifications a candidate entered should not be adjusted, but elements such as formatting or highlighting key strengths are acceptable changes to make.

You should only be looking to better what is already there, fine tuning details but not starting from scratch.

Lying in a CV is a complete no-no, and especially when updating a CV on a candidate’s behalf, you shouldn’t be elaborating the truth just to make them fit a role. You can help candidates customise their CV, but remember honesty is key. Any lies you input, will only get found out later on, and this will not only look bad on the candidate, but it could also look bad on you as the recruiter.

Can you wait for the candidate to do it?

Your first instinct should be to go back to the candidate, giving them an update as to why you’re looking to amend their CV. Let them know whether they can better format their details or if they need to provide more context in a certain area.

If you are able to get a candidate to update their own CV, this will help to ensure the CV properly reflects the candidate, keeping to their tone of voice and helping them better describe their CV during interview stages.

You need to consider the time frame you have available to submit their application, giving the candidate a deadline to come back to you with amends. This will further let you assess a candidate’s commitment, are they willing to make these tweaks in time, to get the job.

Would talking to the hiring manager be better?

Whenever you submit a CV to a hiring manager, it’s crucial to follow up on their application with a conversation, discussing the candidate’s strengths and potential shortfalls.

It can be difficult to articulate a candidate’s potential just through a CV, so it’s best to discuss the candidate over the phone and answer any of the hiring manager’s questions before they jump to conclusions.

Think about whether it would be best to alter a CV or instead, speak directly with the hiring manager to give them an overview as to why you’re putting this candidate forward for their role. Communicating the reasons why you believe they’d be the ideal candidate for the job. Linking their skills to the specification verbally could be easier than adjusting a CV.

Would finding another candidate be better?

This is an important question to consider when you’re looking to alter a candidate’s CV. Reflect on what details you’re looking to change and if you’re trying to make their experience appear more relevant for a role, then maybe another candidate would be a better choice.

If you’re looking to amend far too much information, then you might just be setting up a candidate to fail, as the CV you submit won’t be entirely them.

You need to weigh up the options, and in the long run, finding a more suitable candidate might be the best choice.

By Andrew Fennell

Andrew Fennell is an experienced recruiter, and founder of CV writing service  StandOut CV. He also contributes to a number of leading career pages such as The Guardian, Business Insider and Huffington Post.