Stop Using PDF for Project Management CVs

Hopefully this short article will make you think twice when it comes to your project management CV. As you can imagine we see a lot of project management CVs of different shapes and sizes and as a recruitment business that specialises in project management you can also imagine that we need to be able to store the CVs and work with them.

I see a lot of CVs in PDF format. I’m not sure why people choose to save a CV in PDF format. Perhaps its a feeling that if it’s in PDF no-one can change it (who would want to?) or because it holds its formatting and therefore will look pretty.

Here’s a recent project management CV in PDF format:PDF-CV

Looks OK doesn’t it?

Modern recruitment means we have to use systems that enable us to store and manage applications. Most recruitment agencies use them. We have over 30000 CVs so it stands to reason that we need a little technology to help.

Look what happened to the PDF version of the CV above when it was added to the system:



Yes, that lovely PDF version has been reduced to this.

What’s more, when the system does an initial keyword search and subsequent skills match the results for this CV were abysmal. Again, initial skills matching by a system is what you can expect from any recruitment agency you use. Of course we then add the human element but when you have 200 applicants for each job, a systems approach is needed to bring those numbers down to something which is manageable by a human and within a very tight deadline.

Here’s what a normal Word based CV looks like and the highlighted areas show where some of the skills have been highlighted by the system based on a specific project management role:



You can see that the system works well with a Word based CV. The PDF version on the other hand does not allow skill highlights like this.

There are two things I hope the article highlights:

1. A PDF version doesn’t keep his format when you’re applying for jobs when the recruitment agency uses a system – you can see just how bad it is

2. A PDF version, when it loses its formatting means that words and phrases become separated and disjointed. The system therefore struggles to pull out key skills. Which means someone using a Word based CV has the competitive advantage over you.


Interested in more project management CV advice? Take a look at the PM CV page or read more on the Camel blog


*The blog image comes from Las Vegas – it greatly amused me to see a pharmacy called CVs!



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