Has the CV outlived it’s usefulness in the hiring process?

Before you assume, learn the facts. Before you judge, understand why.

The other day a CV arrived in my inbox and after a cursory glance through it of no more than a few seconds, my impression of that prospective candidate had been formed. And it wasn’t good! I replied with a polite, diplomatic email explaining why their CV wasn’t a good fit for my role/client and why I wouldn’t be taking their application any further.

Call it intuition or as Malcolm Gladwell describes it – “thin slicing”, I made a snap judgement on that candidate based on their two page career summary, teeming with credentials and achievements to date and effectively decided it wasn’t right. Now I know that my client in this instance wouldn’t have thanked me for submitting that CV as on paper they were patently unsuited to the role. They lacked the experience and specific criteria cited as being the perfect fit for this job and I couldn’t “fill a round hole with a square peg”.

But what if I didn’t have their CV and happened to meet that candidate at an open evening or industry event. What if having spent five minutes speaking with them, they blew me away with their winning personality and I formed a more favourable opinion that led me to a different conclusion about their candidacy. What if I made an entirely different judgement call based less on their CV and more centred on their personality, motivations and cultural fit. What if in fact, I’d dismissed that candidate because the more information I had about them, the less sound my judgement became. Is it possible in a recruiting sense to have too much information and be blinded by the data. Is it fair to judge someone based on their ability to articulate their career to date in written form?

Over the course of nearly eighteen years as a Recruitment Professional, I’ve reviewed thousands of CV’s, some good, some bad and quite a lot in between. The one thing I’ve learned is that good CV’s aren’t always indicative of a good candidate and whilst the bad ones don’t exactly leap off the page at you, I’ve been often surprised by their authors when I looked past the typos and grammatical errors and judged the individual on other merits. But is this the right approach? Are snap judgments of a candidate based on a brief read of a two page word document really the best and most insightful ways of assessing new talent? After all, Steve Jobs three years prior to founding Apple and noted for his attention to detail submitted a typo ridden job application which you can read about here. Here was a young man that history regards as a pioneering visionary in the world of computer technology and yet he too was capable of creating an underwhelming job application. The point being, a CV is in no way indicative of any candidate’s true worth, so it begs the question, why bother with CV’s at all?

Right now the recruitment industry is reaping the benefits of significant technological advances – artificial intelligence, video screening, Skype calls etc. Given this era of unprecedented advancement, has the CV as a supporting document outlived it’s usefulness? Most Financial Services professionals now have LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook profiles that provide an online footprint that is far more revealing than any two A4 sheets of paper ever could. These online profiles reveal more about your personality, your beliefs, your opinions and your potential cultural fit to a hiring manager than they will ever grasp from your CV.

Can you imagine a time in the not too distant future where the CV is as antiquated as the typewriter or Fax machine? Is it possible that there will be a future where interview selection and hiring decisions are based not on your ability to type a grammatically correct word document but based more on first impressions, online personality assessments and a hiring manager/recruiters’ sense of what fits and more importantly what doesn’t? I for one would welcome a “less is more” approach to candidate selection and a shift in emphasis away from CV led decision making to more intuitive and informed approaches. At the end of the day, a CV in my opinion is a bit like an iceberg – you only see the 10% showing on the surface, so why would you judge the quality of any candidate without considering the remaining 90% of what makes them tick. A superficial examination of any candidate’s credentials will never give a true reflection of their potential value to an organisation so perhaps the days when the CV was a reliable barometer of quality are truly numbered.

For a more intuitive, considered approach to your recruitment needs, why not reach out to Campbell Rochford today and see how we can help you achieve your goals?

Campbell Rochford – Turning Good To Great!

3 thoughts on “Has the CV outlived it’s usefulness in the hiring process?

    1. Peter,
      Long time no hear. Delighted that you took the time to critique my grammar once again. You must do this professionally?

      I’ll have to rectify these errors.

      As an aside, I think though if you read the article properly you’ll see that I didn’t in fact criticise CV’s but their usefulness in the hiring process.

      Nevertheless, I hope you enjoyed the article?



  1. Hi Gerard,

    I came across this article and I agree with it 100%. One could miss out on real talent and hire somebody who only ticks the boxes and it may have poor results.
    I am currently seeking employment and I have the same feeling of being overlooked, even though I know I am a perfect fit for the role.
    Just wonder if you can help in this regard?
    Thank you,
    Marius Stan

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