"The résumé is dead,” was the bold claim of a recent Guardian article. And it’s true that over the past five years, there seems to have been a surge in the number of companies ditching the traditional CV in favour of job-specific application forms, portfolios, pre-recorded videos or online tests. With speculation rife over what this means for the future of the CV, Ollie Whiting, Director of La Fosse's Permanent and Regional Recruitment Division, explores the reasons for this shift.
“The world is slowly moving away from the CV,” is the opinion of Ollie. “Times have certainly changed from ten years ago when it was only CVs. Now, there are more innovative ways to present someone's experience, skills, behaviours and attributes. Some digital sectors, such as tech start-ups, which are often fast paced and high growth, are not too particular about a CV. They're open to even just seeing a LinkedIn profile or a portfolio of projects or a video interview conducted by us.”
The pitfalls of the CV
A detailed, multipage list of past jobs isn’t always the best way to quickly showcase what sets a candidate apart. “CVs can be lengthy and line managers can miss details,” warns Whiting. “In particular, when addressing a role with a lot of applicants, it’s not difficult to miss the right person if you’ve got to read 200 CVs.”
Another danger of the CV is its inability to communicate as effectively as the spoken word. “An applicant’s personality, enthusiasm and passion just cannot come across through writing alone. You can only do that face to face or via video.”
What's the alternative?
With a number of major companies such as PwC and Penguin Random House now using video applications, this method is undoubtedly on the rise. But, as Whiting points out, this can pose problems of its own. “Although video interviews can be one step forwards from CVs, they can create biases that mean the best talent might not get the right job. You can make a quick call on someone without meeting them face to face. I do understand why companies use videos interviews – they want to get the person's personality across. But if that person is having a bad morning they make take a bad video, which is not a fair reflection of who they are and what they’re capable of.
“Personally, I like a dual approach: a CV and a video link or voice recording of the individual talking through their achievements. That really brings it to life, and almost removes the first-round introductory interview. I think that’s where the world is headed in terms of application processes.”
The rise of the video application
As the number of applications for each role soars at an unstoppable rate, companies are having to do more to whittle down their potential candidates. With a record 49,502 applications received for just 2,285 positions in the summer of 2017, accounting giant PwC is one such company. PwC has replaced the pre-screening step of its selection process with pre-recorded video interviews, on the basis of the speed and ease with which an applicant can complete it at a time and location convenient to them, while offering a better representation of a candidate than a written cover letter.
The written word
So, does this spell the decline and, eventually, disappearance of the CV?
“I would say 80% of our customers still want to see CVs, especially in corporate companies and for senior roles,” counters Whiting. “I think CVs are the best way of communicating your key achievements succinctly – in fact, I cannot think of a better method. When you talk about them in a video, or across the table, the interviewer has to listen very actively in order to absorb everything.
“A CV remains objective and facts-led. They enable line mangers to read someone’s profile and get an objective view of who they are, what they’ve done and what they’ve achieved. I still think it's the best way to get that across.”
Old dog, new tricks
With constant changes in what line managers value most when hiring, the answer could be that the CV is not dead, but simply evolving. As the market moves on, so too will the format of a typical CV.
Whiting summarises the shift in CV formats over the past three years: “The CV is much punchier now – one or two pages. Managers don't have the time to go through a large quantity of CVs, especially in fast growth companies.”
While hiring managers’ eyes used to go straight to degrees or qualifications, many sectors now take a different approach. “It's all achievement-led now,” explains Whiting. “It used to be technical details at the top of the CV, now we get straight into what they’ve learned in their current job – that’s what line managers are interested in.”
Beyond what this means for candidates, this CV makeover can also bring repercussions for recruiters. “The skill of the recruiter has changed – it’s now our job to bring the CV to life,” says Whiting. “We’re talking customers through candidate profiles before they see the CV. Sometimes they even cut out the CV stage and ask us to just get them booked straight into interview.”
The future's bright
With all this in mind, what do the next few years have in store for the CV?
“In the short term, I think it would be rash to say the CV's dead,” concludes Whiting. “However, I do think there'll be a shift to more digital profiles. Currently, though, I still think there’s a place in the market for well-written CVs.”
So, at least for the foreseeable future, it might not be time to ditch your pen and paper just yet.
This article was written and published in collaboration with digital agency Goldsand Digital.
Ollie Whiting, Director of Permanent and Regional Recruitment at La Fosse Associates, has more than ten years’ experience in the IT, Digital and Change recruitment markets, and heads up teams across London and the UK regions.
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