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Don’t bury the CV just yet

Guest post by Bill Boorman

There’s a lot of talk about the CV being dead. Dead as a document. Dead, and of no use to anyone, not fit for purpose. Jobsite’s Community manager Mervyn Dinnen is going to be leading a track on the topic.  For me though, it doesn’t matter how much you tweet it, blog it, or shout it. The CV is just not dead.

The basis of the argument of the dead or deceased camp, as far as I can see, is based on the process of submitting CVs for jobs and the way in which people apply for jobs and are selected for interview. There is a fair argument that a CV is out of date the day it is written, but can’t the same be said of a LinkedIn or similar social profile? The difference perhaps between a profile and a CV in my opinion is that CV’s are mostly written to apply for a particular job. This means that the CV is tailored to the role that means that the document is not as comprehensive as it could be when it comes to applying for other jobs.

The normal route for applying for a job is submitting a CV either in to an A.T.S. or for a recruiter to review. The review usually matches the information on the CV with the requirements of the job, and decisions are made over whom to interview. The argument against the CV in this process is that it is too subjective to recruiter opinion. Is too easy to include inaccurate or dishonest information, and this leads to poor hiring decisions. It’s often said that because of the importance placed on what is essentially a sales document, the best people get rejected before they even get to interview.

There are moves afoot in the UK to outlaw names and pictures from the document for reasons of discrimination. It’s not just job information that leads to assumptions. The proposers of this change believe that the CV needs to be neutralised and anonymous, so that decisions must be made on experience, qualifications and skills, and not for any other reason.

Given these considerations, it’s easy to see why the “kill the CV camp take the position that they do, and up to this point I’m in agreement. Applying for jobs with social profiles bring the application in to real time, leads to greater consistency in format and content, and makes comparisons much easier. So far so good for the “nay” sayers. Here are my reservations though:

Looking at the stats for the UK, there are 8,513,253 LinkedIn profiles that list the UK as their location. That’s only 16.5% of the on-line population, and 13% of the total population. There are a number of people who need to apply for jobs that don’t have an on-line profile make the CV the overwhelming choice. On-line profiles are not yet the solution.

Equally, you will struggle to find many hiring managers who do not use the CV to interview from. I would guess that it would be at least 95%. While there might be an argument to look at the CV in the application process, are we ready yet to change the whole interview process? Bottom line in the argument is that the CV is as much an interview document as it is a selection document, and it is for this reason that it is far from dead,

Case closed. The CV is alive, well and thriving.

Bill Boorman is the founder of the Tru Events, blogger at Norton Folgate: The Recruiting Unblog and a key influencer in the Social Recruiting sphere.

Posted in Recruitment, Social Media.

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  • Steve Ward (@CloudNineRec)

    Spot on Bill. Just writing a post on this, and this perfectly mirrors much of my thoughts.

    I would add a couple of things.

    1. The CV should be evolving. It should be as vibrant as a social profile, with links to online presence, proof of work, blog, linkedin pages, slideshare, social networks (as comfortable). The Word/PDF doc CV should be presented as a traditional case study for examples of succcess, relavance and achievement – like it has always been – but it should also be a catapult to the multiple dimensions that online presence, profiling, and document sharing that the current age provides us with. As you say Bill, let’s get real – hiring managers and HR are still asking for CVs in 95% of cases – even in my digital industry – the most-forward thinking of technological communication zones.

    2. The argument about the CV being potential discriminatory. Sure, but any social presence/linkedin, etc, amplifies this even more. The fuss about a move towards LinkedIn CVs is a crazy proposition, for fairly anaemic, un-tailored and soul-less CV formats was something I though happily died in the 1990s. I’ve been sent a couple, and advise them instantly to re-format to Word – rather than the 5 page drone that came from the LinkedIN CV.

    Yup – the CV is not dead, and it’s not dying. Evolution means opportunity. The most on the pulse candidates are creating dynamic CVs with personality, individuality and are getting jobs for it. Good on them.

  • Bill Boorman (@BillBoorman)

    Thanks for commenting on the post. You are right, the CV is evolving through links, social profiles etc. A CV is still a CV even if you add sound, multimedia etc. I love the idea of no CV, but it really isn’t realistic any time soon, as long as the CV is the principle instrument for interview. Unfortunately, we live in a social media bubble, and we are the minority.

    • Steve Ward (@CloudNineRec)

      Thanks Bill. My point though is that social media bubble is still using old style methodology. It’s merely the social recruiting bubble that constantly wants change and tabloid style blog headlines to support it. The reality is, those of us doing this every day are still using Cvs, because the people that matter – clients and jobseekers – still are too.

  • Gareth Lloyd

    Agree with most of this. I think people often confuse form and function – a Curriculum Vitae is “a short account of one’s career and qualifications prepared typically by an applicant for a position” not “2 pages of A4 either printed or electronic”. The form has evolved and will continue to evolve, but the function remains necessary.

    The CV didn’t die when it became electronic rather than paper-based. I’ve hired people on the basis of a 140 character Twitter CV (waffle free CV) – it’s still fulfilling the same function, just a different form.

    Some of these new forms may well be not fit for purpose – for example, a LinkedIn profile (which is by its nature public) is unlikely to contain the hard facts and figures we all want to see in CVs; nor, as Bill points out, be tailored to each job application. Personal websites, tag clouds linking to social media profiles, virtual portfolios, (even video CVs) – could potentially all do the job as effectively as 2 pages of A4.

    Viewing the evolution of the CV as “2 pages of A4 with outbound links” might be a mistake, e.g. ref the newspapers which used to view their websites as “companions” to their print editions – i.e. don’t layer the new form on top of the old – it might substitute rather than complement.

    • Steve Ward (@CloudNineRec)

      Gareth – I feel it should compliment, not replace. We are more multi-dimensional that ever. The traditional Cv format – on a self created level – tells us an enormous amount about care of presentation, spelling, formatting skills, and communications style. It’s the first dimension of a profile, which can then be layered by the online attributes.

  • Keith Chaplin-Mabbutt

    My view is the CV is a selection document. It is a written brief that should relate to a specific job (and perhaps company). This may align itself to a multimedia doc such as a video, whether as a proactive stance from the applicant or in addition as part of a request from the recruiter. It is plainly obvious people hire people but it is a time conscious world. I wouldn’t say it’s dead, but certainly technology can assist the rec process to ensure time is best spent with the most suitable prospects. IE following initial selection I firmly believe web video should be utilised as a pre in-person assessment, whether by means of automation or by a live two-way virtual interview.

  • Bill Boorman (@BillBoorman)

    Thanks for your comments. The key point here is that the CV format is usually dictated by the recruiter, and they tend not to be social. I agree that video assessments save time, and I like the look of your site. I have worked with Sonru and other video selection companies. This is separate to the CV, which as you point out is currently a selection document.

    • Steve Ward (@CloudNineRec)

      Hold on guys – time saving? Who said recruitment was such a trivial process that it needs time saving? Accurate assessment is what you need. Yes, I believe video can provide that absolutely, because of convenience or geography. You cannot replace the genuine relationship and `feel` built from face to face to interviewing. Yes it takes longer, maybe – and requires the candidate to er… god forbid, move off their backside and go and visit their amazing potential employer, the environment, the location, the people, the freedom to enhance the interview – and of course the natural conversation.

      I’m all for evolution, but please – don’t trivialise the importance of a professional recruitment campaign by moving it closer to a fast-food process.

  • Bill Boorman (@BillBoorman)

    I see video selection replacing the telephone interview. Nothing more and nothing less

    • Steve Ward (@CloudNineRec)

      yes agreed Bill.

  • Larry Cummings

    The earth was thought flat until proven otherwise. Their are several systems out there that prove CV/resumes are old school wrong. I challenge you with the 8 year history of one such platform Make a 90 degree turn and stop hugging the coastline (CVs)! Explore! @Chief_Connector

  • BillBoorman

    It’s a neat solution, but I’d say you only have a very small % of the market at the moment. I’d be surprised if your clients don’t use some form of CV even at final interview. I’m not saying the CV is better, but I am saying that this is the way the majority of hiring gets done around the world at the moment, with no sign of imminent change. when more than 50% of hiring companies don’t use CV’s in their process,then you can claim hey are dying, until then, it’s just a case of needing an overhaul. You should come to #trulondon and lead the debate. You can even have your own track.

  • Larry Cummings

    Thanks, for the the invite to lead the debate @ #trulondon. Honestly, I look to EU for leadership on a lot most exceptional is your employer branding. Here in the States we are so behind both with the CV and branding. The only exception are a few like HRMC that uses automation to bring the “all important” job-focused interview to the front of the process and push the resume further back in the process where its value as forensic evidence is more appropriate. A good technology supports employer branding and a decreased need for the CV.

    • Bill Boorman (@BillBoorman)

      I’m all in favour of making the process easier for the candidate. I can see the potential for the future, but I can also see the reality of today. Front end or back end, the CV is still there as a document.

  • Natasha Akathiotis

    Absolutely great article!!!

    Here’s my take…….

    Regardless of experience, industry or educational background the process of identifying and applying for jobs has seen immense change over the last 5 years.

    As new technologies emerge, digital recruitment evolves. New trends, methods and mobile applications will be adopted including video CV’s and on-line employee referral programmes.


    I cannot see that the CV has ‘had its day’ yet. Today’s jobseeker needs to arm themselves with a complete job hunting toolkit which includes projecting a ‘consistent’ professional brand using social media, networking etc…. But their primary door opener is still the good old fashioned CV.

    Jobseekers are slowly understanding that CV’s should not be static. CV’s should be ‘tweaked’ for each and every application demonstrating in a concise manner how their skills, experience and achievements relate specifically to both the role and organisation that they are applying to.

    In the interest of transparency CV’s should contain links to social media profiles – this also provides an opportunity for potential employers to read any work related recommendations that will help support any job application.

    The sad fact is that where Applicant Tracking Systems are concerned it has become vital that jobseekers also mirror the language used in the job description to help build into their CV the keywords that could potentially determine whether they secure an interview or not.

    CV’s are what they are – a document that factually describes ‘the course of an individuals professional life’. CV’s can help minimise any kind of discrimination by being objective and not subjective.

    CV’s provide a reader with specific facts that relate to a role and organisation; interviews provide the opportunity for truly ‘getting to know’ candidates in more detail.

    Social media profiles currently do a great job of enabling employers and recruiters to identify and initially engage with potential candidates but employers typically tend not to take the relationship any further until they have seen the candidates CV! As ‘key words’ remain the king of the application process, CV’s still currently provide the most fluid format that can be easily amended to help ensure candidates successfully navigate the application process and secure an interview.

    As social media privacy laws tighten and people become more comfortable making ‘in depth’ personal information public, the job application process will certainly change. Generation Y is already comfortable at baring their souls on social media, however, as video CV’s and social media profiles provide a glimpse into who we are and what we look like we must all be mindful of their subjective nature.

  • Bill Boorman (@BillBoorman)

    If you replace a paper CV with a video CV, it’s still a CV. Different medium, same function. I’m not a fan of the CV, but I can’t see the interviewing part changing any time soon. As with all tech, it’s the users who will decide what gets used and how.

  • Tracey

    Good article Bill. Have to agree the CV is far from dead and is still the document of reference at interview time. Social media is a great aid for finding the right candidate or someone who might know the right candidate and for the moment that is as far as it extends.

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