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The Paper CV – irrelevant or indestructible?

Typewriter and coffee on a wooden table

Whether the traditional CV has any remaining relevance is a hot topic. With Ernst and Young actively telling the world that CVs are no longer important, and LinkedIn being hailed as the wonder kid of paperless recruitment, the Pandora’s box of who can come up with the ‘next big thing’ to catch an employers eye is well and truly open.

Here we take a look at whether the humble CV is over and out, or continues to be a long-standing knight of the recruitment table.

KEYWORD SEARCH

In today’s online world, many employers are looking for something new, interesting and clever. In days gone by, recruiters and employers would sit pouring over hundreds of paper CVs to ascertain which applicants had the right skills and experience for the job advertised. Fast-forward to the modern day and you find employers setting X-Factor style challenges, video auditions and a focus on an applicant’s online existence.

However, employers aren’t disregarding CVs entirely: quite the opposite. Both employers and recruiters use them to seek out talent on jobsites, scanning for specific keywords to compile a shortlist of appropriate candidates. That’s why it’s important for jobseekers to include keywords from job descriptions and the industry as a whole, as well as the right skills and job titles to ensure that they make the cut.

HONESTY AND INTEGRITY

As an employer, honesty and integrity should be your bywords when it comes to growing your team. There’s no doubt that the traditional CV can help here.

If you find yourself impressed by the contents of an applicant’s CV, it’s not advisable to take this at face value – using it in conjunction with the online world is a very effective way of exposing inauthenticity.  For example, no one would blame you for having your head turned by a candidate’s three-month volunteering stint in an African orphanage. But if the only evidence you can find of this online is that he or she spent two weeks holidaying in Cape Verde, alarm bells should start ringing.

It’s worthwhile analysing the links, connections and endorsements a potential candidate has on platforms like LinkedIn. Combine that with the information you’ve been given on paper and you’re giving yourself the best chance of a successful hire.

If you’re job seeking, give some serious thought to what you want your future employers to see. By all means utilise social media and put yourself out there, but never ever lie about your skills and experience because the truth will out. And, when it comes to your online activity, remember the golden rule: if you wouldn’t want your mum to see it, don’t post it.

BASIC SKILLS

Believe it or not, candidates are still making elementary mistakes on their CVs, lies and exaggeration to name but two. However, by far the most irritating is incorrect speling and grm,mr (we meant to do that…). Put simply; there’s simply no excuse for it. The spell check tool has been in operation since the 1970’s, and its accuracy and workability has only been enhanced over time. This means that when faced with a grammatically incorrect CV, the only conclusion left to draw is that an applicant simply doesn’t care enough about the opportunity.

As an employer, if you see a CV riddled with mistakes, the likelihood of that applicant giving their work any attention to detail are slim to none and the advice is to swiftly move on. As a candidate, you’d do well to bear in mind that on average, an employer will spend seven seconds looking at your CV before deciding whether or not to bin it.

RECRUITERS STILL USE CVs

Yes we do – because a CV providesuseful information about a candidate’s history, experience and general persona, all in one handy, tangible document. In the main, recruiters still require a CV to send to clients and HR departments, meaning that they still constitute the first step in recruiting the right person to the right role.

A good CV is also a great way to prepare the ground for interview. It sets out a candidates skills and experience all in one place. It’s not unusual for an employer to keep a copy of an applicants CV handy so that they can make notes before, during and after an interview – notes in the margin, only for recruitment.

HOW LONG WILL THE CV REMAIN RELEVANT?

Our survey said, who knows? Whilst the CV still has its place, the brave new world of recruitment is advancing fast. Marketing Week recently suggested that employers are leaving the CV behind to focus on making the recruitment process more ‘democratic’. Companies like Unilever and Goldman Sachs are now using AI to match graduates and roles, with applicants required to film answers to questions, which are then scanned by algorithms. This is a far cry from the two sides of A4 we’re all used to.

Employers are looking beyond the CV and the basic LinkedIn profile. They’re looking at a prospective candidates entire online presence and how they present and engage, believing that this gives them a truer representation of a person and their abilities. We wrote in last week’s blog about the rise in the popularity of employment and networking apps, which in general don’t appear to require an official CV read through before setting up a business lunch.

 

Whilst we wouldn’t advise either client or candidate to ditch the CV just yet, we would suggest that the way the CV is used has changed a lot over time. When considering a CV, it’s imperative to utilise other available avenues of appraisal in conjunction with it, to ensure that all bases are covered.

The fact of the matter is, if you want the measure of what a candidate HAS DONE the traditional CV is perfect, but it’s unlikely to bring to life what someone COULD DO if given the opportunity. Because in reality, is anyone ever really perfect on paper?

Mark Gill

By Mark Gill

Recruitment Director with a proven record of providing world class hires at all levels of office and management positions within the Leeds Bradford region. We use our unique Headway Recruitment Platform incorporating psychometric testing to find the top candidates. If you want access to the full local talent pool get in contact with the team at Headway. We help companies achieve growth through our unique approach. This ensures the candidates we place are the perfect fit. Companies are then best placed to get the best from each individual as they understand their motivating traits. Proud to be recognised as preferred supplier for several businesses in the Sunday Times top 100 firms to work for.
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