Two words that will improve your application to interview hit rate

Frank Hutton
Frank Hutton - Career Coach

Well, in a few cases it could be three or possibly four words at a stretch.

The words?

Your name.

While it may be obvious to those who have worked in the marketing arena that familiarity (and the trust that comes from it) is a powerful aspect of decision-making for most human beings, it’s possible others are less aware. So read on….

Sometimes we forget that those who decide whether we are worthy prospects for interview are simply human; individuals just like us.

And like us, they are open to prejudice and to influence, often without even being aware of it.

So how can your name assist in this respect?

You need to make sure that when applying online in any context, the file name for your CV contains your name, and these rules will assist it to work its hardest for you:

  1. Put it as you would write it e.g. FirstnameLastname not LastnameFirstname
  2. Include any other details (if you really have to) after it e.g. FirstnameLastnameCVNov17
  3. Make sure the name is clearly recognisable. Introduce a hyphen if it needs spaces, and always use initial caps to allow their brain to recognise the two parts of the name, especially if your surname begins with a vowel (in english at least it will seem to link to the previous letter which could be problematic if a consonant).
  4. Avoid file names which include a description of which employer it’s for e.g. FirstnameLastnameRollsRoyce - you don't need to make them think it’s especially crafted and perhaps somehow less credible.
  5. Avoid file names becoming really long! My advice is just add a brief number at the end so you know what it refers to - you can log them on a spreadsheet (I advise everyone to keep a track of applications made, to whom, when, follow ups etc) to keep track.

Does it really make a difference?

Simply yes - there will always be a good number of applicants for good jobs. Many will have the same or even better qualifications than you. If the interviewer is trying to make a decision between two closely matched candidates they will go on so-called ‘gut-instinct’ - intuition more than reason. In such instances they may feel more inclined to go with one they feel is a comfortable fit. How would this happen?

  1. They saw your name on the email itself to which your CV was attached.
  2. As they opened the file, they saw your name on the file name
  3. They saw your name again at the top of the CV, bold and proud (and large!)
  4. They saw your name again on the file name when making that final review
  5. They saw your name again once the file was open
  6. They know your name now, and you seem more reliable, credible and real; they have a mental picture of you; they can now begin to imagine you in the role

In our scenario, there is a minimum 5 times for the selector to become unconsciously familiar with your name. If you do not include your name clearly and obviously in the file name you reduce this to 3 - a 40% decrease.

If the file is shared with line managers, they also get to see the file name, and potentially your name on the email as well if the whole thing gets forwarded. Even in Applicant Tracking Systems, the files often appear on screen, as icons, with their file name.

So change it now. (and make sure it doesn't say Curriculum Vitae on top of the first page either, as in our example. Unnecessary - it needs to be your name!) It could be the difference between being the candidate being ranked 10 and making the long list or candidate 11 and missing it.