CV Parsing and graduate jobs: Our experience

Published: 11th August 2010
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At Moobia the use of CV Parsing is core to our product. We set ourselves the target of making graduate recruitment easier for both employers and graduates by ensuring that jobs and graduates are both highly targeted. In order to allow this targeting it was essential that we extract the proper key information from each graduate CV. Parsing also allows us to strip contact information from the CVs and allow them to be viewed in almost full form

We store this information in our database as well as an HTML version of the CV (which is converted from any document that is uploaded) and allow employers to search against that stored data. This gives us an important advantage over other sites by giving employers more options in how they filter graduates and also improving the effectiveness of the filter.

CV Parsing - the main players

When searching for our CV Parser, we spoke to all the main companies:-

Daxtra Technologies





Talent Tech

We made the decision to go with Talent Tech after conducting considerable research. For us, they offered the best balance between cost, quality and support.

I hope the following guide offers some interesting pointers in what factors you should look at when selecting a CV Parser and questions you should ask to make sure you get the right one. (Note: we do not discuss here websites that offer full recruitment solutions that include CV Parsing.)

Factors to consider when choosing a CV Parser:

Geographical understanding: CV Parsers have in built language libraries that help them to identify the fields in each CV. To get the most out of your parser you should make sure that it can be setup specifically for use in your geographical area. This means that in the UK, you should make sure that the company you select has experience of parsing UK CV's. While an US company has a parser which can parse a CV in English, it will not however pickup UK telephone numbers, addresses, educational qualifications etc. If you are operating internationally it is essential that you explore all the different parsing options out there and select one which will meet your requirements. Our decision to use TalentTech was influenced by their partnership with a very large UK jobboard - in turn, this made us confident that we were getting a parser that could happily chew through UK CVs.

Hosted or SAAS (sofware as a service): When choosing your parser there are two options as to how it is delivered. You can either purchase a license (often for a year) install and run the software yourself, or you can let them do this and buy parsing time. Some companies offer both these solutions, some just offer one.

The advantage of the hosted option is that it gives you complete control over the allocation of bandwith and speed. You won't need to worry about surges of CVs from other sites, which may slow down parsing if all a companies customers go through one CV. Often, when you decide to host it yourself, the license also allows you to parse as many CVs as you want (though this isn't always the case) - but you will be constrained by the speed, power and bandwith of your servers.

In going with the SAAS option, you will not need to provide your own servers or bandwith. When your site receives a CV, it sends it to a remote server and receives back an XML document ready to be used by your site. Licenses are often purchased on a credit basis, where you purchase a basic license (plus the ability to parse say 1,000 CVs) and then you purchase credits to parse further CVs on top.

How you use the data: Integrating the parsed CV data into our site was easily the most time consuming and complex aspect of the site development. CV Parsers never extract all data perfectly! But we wanted to ensure that we were storing the correct graduate data, so we allow our graduate users to edit the parsed data and make corrections. Other sites, such as Reed store the parsed data and do not allow users to edit it. It is important that you consider how the parsing technology returns the parsed results and how easy it is to integrate those results with your site.

Sandbox/testing time: Integrating CV Parsing can be a time consuming process, some companies offer testing time which means you can develop and test your site with the parser without incurring any costs.

Price: When we were looking for a parser we were shocked at the range of offers. To give an indication, we asked all companies how much it would cost to parse 5,000 CVs a year (as an example). Prices ranged from 12p to £1.20 per parsed CV with most sitting between the 25p-32p. Clearly, the larger your volume, the better the deal you can strike and if you host the parser yourself then there is often no marginal cost for any extra CVs parsed.

Questions to ask your potential CV Parser

As well as the factors listed above, there are a few other questions we found useful to ask potential parsing partners.

Ask for a demo: When you are looking for your CV parser, make sure you ask for a demo. Provide them with 5-10 CVs from your target jobseekers and let them demonstrate their technology on those. CV Parsing companies often demo using CVs that are perfectly structured for their own parser and then unsurprisingly provide perfect results. If you are an IT company ask them to demo with IT CVs and see how they do.

Different companies have different nuances in their technologies and some may work better on certain types of CV.

Find out who their clients are: If you are a UK company ask who your parsing company serves in the UK, if in France, who in France. Many of the largest jobboards who use parsing in each country will have conducted extensive testing on all the main technologies. So if they select one company over another, it gives you a very strong indication as to who they thought were the most effective.

Cost per CV: Before you start talking prices, work out how many CVs you expect to parse each year. There are huge variations in different licenses, but if you go to a company and ask how much it is going to cost to parse 50,000 CVs then you can get an indication of which companies pricing structure suits you best

Growth time: If you are building a website from scratch, some companies offer you a growth license which means that in year 1 you may get a license to parse 1,000 CVs, year 2 5,000 CVs etc. In return you pay a significantly lower license fee in year one, but it increases to the full rate over a period of 2-3 years.

In conclusion

CV Parsing is an essential part of our site. It allows us to offer extremely powerful filtering and search - far more advanced than that offered by our competitors. We are very pleased with our parsing partner and hopefully this brief guide will assist you in determining the factors that should help you choose yours.

For more information on graduate jobs, click here

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