How our CV review tool removed CV overload at Imperial College London
Thursday, January 30, 2020

In terms of the demand for one-to-one appointments, the autumn term is incredibly busy. In the month of October alone, we make available more than 1,000 20-minute appointments and we still don’t meet student demand. When we reviewed our data a year or so ago, we discovered that a large proportion of these appointments were used by students wanting their CVs checked. A review of a good CV usually takes five minutes: we can tell at first glance whether a CV is fit for purpose and employer-ready. Yet students were using 15 and 20-minute appointments to gain the reassurance they needed.

We thought that there must be a better way to meet student demand.

The solution: TARGETconnect’s CV module

TARGETconnect’s CV module has enabled us to digitise CV reviews. Once students have uploaded their CVs, our team log-in to the system, review each CV and provide initial feedback. The team can use several standard templates, with links to our CV resources, for this. We essentially divide CVs into three categories: one in which the CV meets our criteria for a good CV; one that needs a bit more work; and one where the student needs to start again.

If it is a good CV, the adviser can hit the appropriate button and off goes the reply. For our advisers, the process takes just three clicks. However, we were very conscious not to create a system in which students felt that there wasn’t a human being reviewing their CV and so one of the things that has really worked for us has been adding in a ‘free text’ option. This enables our team to provide personalised feedback to those students who need it, helping to create that bespoke service that is so important for students. For this reason too, our emails always sign off with the name of the individual adviser who reviewed the CV.

For us, it was very important to make it easy for advisers and students alike. We worked closely with the TARGETconnect team to get the front-end right and I’d recommend other careers service directors do the same. The TARGETconnect team acted on feedback and helped to create the tailored email templates based on how we ranked (or categorised) the CVs. We spent a lot of time on the wording of our templates.

The results: expected efficiencies and unexpected benefits

CVs are reviewed more efficiently: The great thing about the CV module is that advisers can review CVs from their desks whenever they have time, and between other appointments or when one is cancelled. We can do four or even five CV reviews in the time equivalent to one 20-minute appointment. We ask each adviser to review ten CVs a week, but I estimate that in this academic year we will have reviewed over 2,000. We completed 438 in the first three weeks of this October alone. Last year, when we piloted the scheme, we surveyed the students who used it and 90% of them said that, if not for the CV module, they would have tried to access a 20-minute appointment just for their CV.

Students make better use of appointments: On the system we can see how students have worked on an initially poor CV. We encourage students to make use of the online CV feedback option prior to coming in for a face-to-face appointment. As we limit students to three appointments, this helps them make much better use of the appointments; they are not wasting one appointment listening to us explain why they need to start from scratch on their CV!

We are reaching more of our non-traditional users: One result that I didn’t quite anticipate was how this service has an uptake among our non-traditional users. These are students who might not trek across the city to come for a face-to-face appointment but still want some reassurance. So, it does extend our reach, allowing us to support more students.

Students feel more of a connection to the careers service and receive a bespoke service: The CV module has allowed us to manage our resources more efficiently, while retaining a bespoke and personal feel. The ‘free text’ box, allowing personalised feedback, helps us to form a personal connection that I think students appreciate. They gain a bespoke, personalised service from their careers service without necessarily having to leave their campus. This is a huge benefit for us, with our students being spread over London. It’s worked well; in our student survey last year, all our feedback on the system was positive.