Wednesday, December 01, 2004

hr-xml and why it is an ideal format for the CV

hr-xml is the leading standard for standardisation of xml vocabularies in HR. It has support from many of the major companies in the HR services / software environment (see this list)

One of the standards that is being constructed is for a standard xml vocabularies for the CV, or resume (sensibly they make no differentation between the two - formats might alter geographically but content is usually similar).

Whilst this is obviously good news for HR suppliers why could it also be great for candidates?

Currently, when candidates send their CV to a potential employer via their application tracking system (ATS) the system typically uses a filter to parse the CV into it's database. It will try and work-out what is the name, education institution, previous employers etc. Many do this pretty well, depending on the format used but at best it's an inexact science. I recently tested one used by a major technology firm and it got my name right and that was about it.

In the 'old days' when recruiters used a funnel approach (take 100 CVs, narrow it to a shortlist and to the hire) this didn't matter so much. A recruiter doesn't read the CV - they scan it. A good recruiter can do this very accurately and very quickly, but that takes years of experience. Why didn't it matter? Well, reuse of CVs, especially in corporates was pretty low.

Now your details should be being reviewed for roles as they appear. If the database holds the information in clear fields the recruiter can quickly find what they are looking for. If the system has the CV in one big text field it can't differentate between someone who has worked at Microsoft from those who put proficiency in Microsoft Word. The more accuracy the system has in the CV the more chance that a candidate will be found for the right role.

Speaking to the founders of one of the big ATS providers last week it is clear that many do accept CVs formatted as hr-xml documents at present. Unfortunately the take-up by candidates has been low, mainly because an xml document isn't easy to write and the schemas need technical knowledge to understand.

For a candidate having their CV in a xml standard makes sense as it enables seperation of the style information from the content. It can be published online, easily translated to other formats including pdf and Word and shown in 'human friendly format'

There are several providers working on more usable solutions, including Microsoft who have a product for their Infopath product, though this is more useful for those wanting to standardise CVs in a corporate environment. What is really needed though is a (probably free) application that lets a non-technologist construct the xml document, and use various styles. If this was to happen it would increase accuracy in recruitment for both candidates and hiring managers.