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Time for a fresh look at CVs

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Online recruitingTimes have changed and the internet is now redefining the role of the CV in the recruitment process, argues Karl Gregory.


For more than 50 years, the CV has been the standard way for most professional people to promote themselves when applying for a job. But in the digital age is the CV, in its current form, still up to the task of helping people find the jobs they want, and helping recruiters sort the wheat from the chaff? After all, the internet has completely changed many other things that stayed the same for decades – from the way we store and share music, to the way we bank.

To answer this, we have to first consider what’s wrong with the ‘traditional’ CV – by this I mean a written document that’s posted or emailed to recruiters. From a jobseeker’s perspective, there are certainly shortcomings. One of the biggest is that once sent, there is no way for the jobseeker to reach out and change the information on their traditional CV – something most candidates want to do as they add new skills and experiences, or their preferences change. This is, of course, bad news for recruiters too, since they often end up wasting time with out-of-date candidate records.

“ID fraud using information gleaned from CVs is apparently the fastest growing crime in the US, and this is a growing problem in the UK too.”

But the issue of a general lack of control goes deeper. There’s nothing to stop people photocopying a traditional CV or emailing it on. This is bad news at a time when fraudsters are on the prowl for personal information. ID fraud using information gleaned from CVs is apparently the fastest growing crime in the US, and certainly this is a growing problem in the UK too.

Second, although people often spend hours crafting a beautiful-looking CV, the fancy decoration gets ignored because recruiters quickly turn CVs into a stream of data their IT systems can read. This means crucial details can be lost or misinterpreted and, ultimately, candidates can miss out on key opportunities. This is a headache for recruiters too as the conversion of CVs into a standard format costs time and money.

Finally, because most people only write CVs when they’re actually moving jobs, they tend to forget all but the most recent of their work-based achievements. This is not good – recent research showed that inclusion of specific work-based achievements can actually boost a candidate’s starting salary by up to 15% – that’s a whopping £3,300 increase on the average UK salary of £22,000.

Multimedia options

So the CV is perhaps ripe for change, but in which direction should that be? One way the CV is already evolving online is through the development of multimedia CVs. This approach enriches CVs with content other than written words – things like graphs, charts, work samples and most recently videos, which allow candidates to demonstrate their experience long before a face-to-face interview.

Whilst this has the advantage of sharing more information, I would question whether busy HR managers and professional recruiters really have the time to appreciate it. They already sift through hundreds of CVs each day, and video CVs will only increase their workloads. Also, from a candidate’s point of view, video CVs can be quite intimitading. I don’t know many people who feel comfortable in front of a video camera.

Another approach is to use the internet to enhance the existing CV and evolve the way in which it’s used, without radically changing the end product.

“Perhaps a more sensible approach is to use the internet to enhance the existing CV and evolve the way in which it’s used, without radically changing the end product.”

This way, the out-of-date CV syndrome is eliminated because jobseekers no longer post or email their CV. Instead, they simply send a web link to their online CV which recruiters (or their IT system) follow to access their details. This means whenever recruiters follow the link, they only ever see the latest version of the candidate CV – even if it was only updated seconds before.

The ID fraud risk is also greatly reduced, since only the recipient of the web link can view the CV (if the link is forwarded on it doesn’t work) and the candidates can also choose to hide certain personal information (like their address, date of birth, etc.) from view, make use of phone number masking options, or completely block access from certain people.

Whilst these may seem like benefits weighted toward the jobseeker, clearly recruiters benefit too by being able to use fully complete, compatible and up-to-date CVs, as well as reducing their own exposure to the reputation damage that can be caused by ID fraud issues. Research has shown that these kinds of online CVs can half the time taken by recruiters to process and search through CVs and result in much quicker candidate placements.

When you consider the benefits for all involved, it’s perhaps unsurprising to learn that close to three million people in the UK alone have already adopted this kind of online CV and that more than 2,500 recruiters, representing tens of thousands of jobs have switched to using them as their preferred CV templates. So, after half a century, could we be witnessing the death of the traditional CV? Well, there may be a little life left in the old dog yet, but certainly its days are numbered.


Karl Gregory is marketing director of iProfile.org.

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