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CV Red Flags to Look Out For

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​So, you’re recruiting for a vacancy. If you haven’t got an internal recruiter then the task of reviewing applications will probably fall with a senior member of staff or relevant hiring manager. It’s a time-consuming exercise and will probably be a small part of their overall role. You could potentially have tens, hundreds, or even thousands of CVs to sift through, and the exercise can become repetitive. To the untrained eye, it might be relatively easy to see something that makes a candidate stand out for good reasons; but what about the subtle red flags?

There’s a whole host of information that you can learn from a CV that go further than you might think to shine a light on the person that wrote it. We’re going to be exploring some of these pitfalls to hopefully make it easier for you to find the right person for your vacancy!

Lack of Clarity

“No explanation of their role at their previous employer and how it impacted the studio/project is concerning. There’s a charm in someone being humble, but what aren’t they saying and why aren’t they saying it?” explains Recruitment Director Simon Hope. There are fewer things more concerning than seeing a job title alongside a start and end date. Regardless of the prestige the prior employer or job title might garner, a lack of supporting evidence is a big red flag. The intricacies of certain roles may vary from studio to studio, you need to know what their day-to-day entailed and the impact they had on certain projects. Were they in the thick of development, or did they just feature in a consultancy capacity? Why wouldn’t they want you to know that?

Devil in the Detail

“The portfolio should be front and centre, just below their name and primary contact details. It’s so important to employers. If that link is broken, spelt wrong or buried within the body of the CV somewhere, it shows you that the candidate hasn’t been attentive and doesn’t understand the value of what they’re sending across,” states Director Ian Goodall. Spelling and grammatical errors can be a cause for concern in themselves, showing a lack of attention to detail. If these errors extend to crucial information like links to portfolios, GitHubs, and social profiles; this would directly affect their ability to evidence their suitability for the role.

Unexplained Employment Gaps

“It might be nothing, but unexplained employment gaps (especially if dates don’t match up) are a big concern. Some candidates may have had short stints at studios for a very good reason, be that closures or to start a family, but it’s when these explanations are absent or poorly hidden that the issues arise,” confirms Senior Recruiter Chris Mellor. There is nothing more disconcerting than seeing candidates move between studios every few months. Do they get bored easily or are they frequently not passing probational periods? If the candidate doesn’t give you the answers, your brain will fill in the rest for them.

Claims Without Substance

“Lack of credits on a CV, especially if they’ve worked in a position where you’d expect to see game metrics and sales figures, can be a big problem. Did the games flop? How involved were they in the success of prior projects? Did they function in a more Junior role which isn’t backed up by their employment history claims?” asks Simon Hope. Industry professionals can be expected to have at least some prior achievements to shout about. The absence of these could highlight a lack of direct involvement or poor performance. This isn’t helped by the use of vague qualifiers such as “helped with” or “participated in”. How exactly did they help? How involved were they?

Robots Need Not Apply

“People need hobbies and interests. Nobody wants to hire a two-dimensional cookie cutter person. Team fit is key, and hobbies and interests will help you to see if this person would fit within your company and culture,” explains Ian Goodall. Liking music and films is all well and good, but who doesn’t? Candidates that include hobbies and interests that make them stand out as an individual can help you gauge how they would fit within your existing studio dynamic. Knowing your employees is key, you can begin to see at this early stage how this new hire would integrate and make friends with the people who already work within the business. Seating arrangements sometimes sort themselves! Be aware of a lack of objectivity too. Free-thinker’, ‘visionary’, and ‘friendly face’ might be catchy buzzwords, but they’re generally labels given and not claimed.

Lack of Effort

“We’ve already covered spelling and grammar, which is a given, but getting a PDF download of someone’s Linkedin profile instead of a genuine CV is a cardinal sin. If they can’t be bothered to put the effort into writing a one or two-sided sheet of A4 to get the job, what is their work ethic going to be like if they join your studio?” points out Chris Mellor. Short cuts like this, and poor formatting in general, can tell you that very little thought has been put into their application. It can be an indicator that they’ve probably applied for a whole host of jobs and have used this as a copy and paste template. If they’re not invested in your studio and what you do, are you ever going to be anything other than ‘just another job’?

By keeping your eye out for the above, you can better shortlist the perfect candidate for your next role, but sometimes there’s no substitute for a professional eye. With over thirty years of industry recruitment experience, please feel free to reach out to us for any recruitment needs!