Recruiter Dirty Tricks No. 2- CV Matching


Have you ever been sat in an interview, and thought that the person sat opposite you doesn’t seem to be the same person that you saw on the CV? Or have you ever been sat in an interview as an applicant and wondered why the interviewer is asking you about stuff that you have no idea about?

Yes? Then you have probably been the victim of “CV Matching”.

So what is it exactly?

CV matching is when a recruitment consultant will take the job description, and put all of the job tasks into a candidates CV, irrespective of whether they have actually done it or not.

The pitfalls of this approach are obvious which is why I don’t understand why people do it. Clients will ask pertinent questions to explore candidates’ skills, so it should become pretty obvious during the process that they aren’t quite what they had promised. It will have wasted your time as the interviewer and the time of the interviewee.

So why do they do it?

Because you will definitely interview them!!! And they probably have a KPI of “interviews held” to hit. Or they may just close their eyes and hope that you don’t ask the right questions which reveal their lack of all the promised experience and you offer them the role. Or…. if they are a particularly unscrupulous recruiter…. they may just want to block a couple of other interview slots from other agency candidates so that their preferred candidate (the only one with ALL the relevant skills), stands a better chance of getting the role! Who cares if they have wasted your time, or stopped you seeing other suitable candidates, they have got their placement and that’s all that counts!

So how can you avoid being the victim of this practice? And I’ll give tips to both clients and candidates alike, as there is nothing more embarrassing than being in an interview and realising you have been completely mis-represented and are out of your depth (other than perhaps turning up to work and realising you have forgotten to put any clothes on……. but that only happened to me once!)

For candidates:
1. Make sure you see the JD and assess yourself if you are capable of doing the role competently. Don’t be forced to go forward if you know you don’t meet the criteria. However, don’t let that stop you being ambitious and looking to make a step up in your career, I’m just saying to be realistic.
2. Ask for the recruiter to send you a copy of the CV they have sent to the client, so you go into the interview with open eyes. A decent recruiter may well have made changes to your original CV, as its our job to make sure you are represented as appropriately for each role as possible. The difference is making sure that everything on the CV is correct.
3. How much time has the recruiter spent getting to know you? Have you only had a 3 minute conversation with them, or have they spent time going through your CV? Have they met with you, have they asked for your references and chased them up? The former is usually an indicator that you are dealing with a lazy recruiter, and these are often the recruiters that will adopt this approach.
4. How well does your recruiter know their market? If they don’t know their market, they may make assumptions about what you can do, and just lump it on the CV, resulting in a mis-representation and subsequent embarrassment.

Its slightly more difficult for clients, as there is a fine line between good practice and outright plagiarism!
1. Look at the CV with the JD in front of you. If the CV uses the same language, then it could be an indicator. If the recruiter is particularly lazy, you will see the bullet points are in the same order as your JD too and that is a big tell tale sign! However, this is just an indicator, as recruiter good practice is to make sure that a CV is “relevant”, and so they should make sure that all relevant skills that a candidate has, should be on the CV.
A good way to weed out the good candidates from the falsely matched candidates is to ask the consultant some specific details about the CV before agreeing to interview. If they can give you some tangible detail, then they know the candidate well and it is more likely that they are a legitimate good match.
2. If you find that someone has slipped through the net and you find yourself in THAT interview, then show the candidate the CV that you have and ask them how accurate it is. If you approach the recruiter, they may say that it was the candidate who put it on their CV but you will know its not true. However even if that is the case, it is the recruiters job to verify everything on the CV at the initial registration stage and that should have been discovered at that point.
3. Choose an agency that is a market specialist and that you trust that they know what your requirements are. Taking a little bit of time to make sure the agency has a good understanding of your requirements will save you a whole lot of time later on down the line. When doing this, you will also get a better feel if the recruiter knows what they are doing by the questions they ask.

The best thing you can do, is if you have had this experience, don’t use that recruiter again.  If they’ve had the gall to try this approach, be assured they will not be the type of person to learn from their mistakes and will do it again!

The recruitment industry has evolved over the years and the most successful relationships are those that have been developed over a period of time and are based on trust and understanding of the requirements. A slapdash approach will often lead to these actions from lazy or under pressure recruiters who have a whole dashboard of KPIs to hit (and that’s one for another blog!)

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