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February 19, 2012 / Mervyn Dinnen

Will it be The Last Rites for the CV at #TruLondon?

‘He’s not pining, he’s passed on. This parrot is no more. He has ceased to be. He’s expired and gone to meet his maker. He’s a stiff, bereft of life, he rests in peace. If you hadn’t have nailed him to the perch he’d be pushing up the daisies. He’s rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. This is an ex-parrot!’
Monty Python Dead Parrot Sketch

‘Kiss me where the sun don’t shine
The past was yours but the future’s mine
You’re all out of time’
Stone Roses, She Bangs The Drums

At this week’s TruLondon5 I’ll be talking CVs with James Mayes and (I hope) a whole bunch of attendees in the track ‘The CV is Dead!’ If the CV was Monty Python’s parrot would it be pushing up daises, merely resting or stunned? Could the Stone Roses lyric be from an ‘online profile’ to a traditional CV?

This is one of those subjects that creates megabytes of content in cyberspace. Everyone has a view and many like their views to be controversial. I’m sure that the debate on Wednesday will be both lively and heated.

It’s actually a deeply complex topic as it has many facets:

  • How does a jobseeker want to be represented
  • What is the best way to showcase skills and capabilities
  • How does a recruiter want to receive applications
  • How do recruiters screen and select
  • Do recruiters/hiring managers have the time to devote to assessing in a different way
  • What information does a recruiter really need to make an informed decision
  • How much is invested in technology that requires the maintenance of the status quo

These are just a few; I’m sure readers will have many more to add.

I have to say that I don’t have a foot firmly in either camp, which is why I’m looking forward to hearing the range of views. I know from my work at Jobsite that there is an increasing appetite for CV databases, but what form may the ‘CV’ take in future?

To get the conversation started, here are a few thoughts and questions of my own and some gathered from recent blogs:

I didn’t use a CV

Most readers will know that I was job hunting about 15 months ago. I took the decision not to produce a CV as I felt that it would add little to my marketability. I was ideally looking to either move into a new field, or utilise the network that I had built up over the previous 5 years in another recruiting role. I felt it more important to give interested employers a feel of who I was and what I could do. Hence I had my LinkedIn profile for those who wanted some historical record, and used this blog site to showcase my thinking and key facts. I was able to embed a video so that anyone interested could see me being interviewed for 10 minutes about career highlights and how I operate.

Clearly I was unable to apply for a role in the traditional way, but then I was probably looking to be found. I was approached by two R2R agencies who felt that they couldn’t represent me without a traditional CV to send to clients.

My situation may be rare(ish) at present – and I was able to leverage a fairly large online network in my search – but in specialised sectors, where quite specific skills are needed, I’m not sure that it is as rare as we would like to think.

We need to showcase the course our life

Curriculum Vitae loosely translates as ‘the course of my life’ and as such is really an executive summary of someone’s experiences. You may have read Felix Wetzel’s post on this subject. Whatever we call it – CV, profile, statement – the recruitment process will inevitably centre around someone who needs to hire looking at executive summaries of people who could to the job.

As Felix says in his post:

The CV won’t die, but it will change….we might call it a profile, but all in all it will still be the executive summary of a person’s life, describing the course of a person’s life, with embedded exhibits of past experiences. And most importantly, the final product, before submission, still will need sign-off by the person whose name is on the CV and an approved way to contact and communicate with the person

The CV is an interview document

Bill Boorman guest posted on Felix’s site with the view that the CV was alive and well. He points out that most hiring managers use the CV to interview from:

… 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

So much conflicting advice

There’s a whole industry out there built around CVs. Writing them, checking them, coaching about them. Put 10 ‘CV experts’ in a room and ask for three tips for a cracking CV and they will probably all say something different. Job seekers are confused and find it stressful. Many of the comments I see in the day job are around CVs and how to write them. They come out top in job hunting searches and articles/blogs about CVs are some of the most read.

Are we asking jobseekers to use a format which clearly is not natural to them? Why do we use the same universal format to recruit any role from a trainee butcher to a divisional MD of a FTSE 100 company?

Younger workers want to express themselves in different ways

There’s an interesting recent post called Mulitmedia and the 21st Century Resume from Kyle Lagunas, an HR analyst from Software Advice, in which he talks about how automation has taken the subjective assessment of quality and cultural fit out of the hiring process. I haven’t met Kyle, we’ve ‘spoken’ online, but he’s clearly Gen Y. And it’s this that interests me the most because his post goes on to explore ways in which jobseekers can use multi-media to enhance the message. The message that is you! After all we tell job seekers that their CV must be a sales and marketing document and then strip it of any opportunity to do just that.

Yet there is a generation entering the workforce that want to express themselves in different ways. A generation that will be loyal to their skills and will probably spend many years working in contracts, or on projects, and will need a way to showcase what they can do.

Are we reaching out to tomorrow’s talent and then asking them to reach back using yesterday’s methods? In a way that doesn’t suit them or enable them to project themselves as they would want?

An HR Directors view

I had a twitter conversation with Debbie Brooks, HR Director of global comms & marketing group Mediabrands. She was bemoaning the lack of creativity in the CVs that were submitted to her. She wanted something different. I asked her what she would like to see:

Something that uses tech/social media & is tailored to the company/role. Something that starts a conversation & is interactive. Recruiters should encourage this too. Sending plain word doc CVs with no thought of how to make it relevant is just lazy. It’s probably driven by sector. Digital & innovation are two key skills we’re looking for. Although many sectors would say the same.”

I’ve often referenced the Clay Shirky observation ‘no medium ever survived the indifference of 25 year olds’ on previous blog posts and I think that it bears re-airing here. There’s no doubt that much will change in business over the coming years and it may be that the CV is something that will evolve too as more digitally adept workers look for new ways to find and be found.

After all, if I had gone to a music industry unconference 15 years ago to debate ‘The CD is Dead!’ I doubt I would have had many takers! The CD is still around, but hardly in rude health. When did you last buy one? How long before someone says to you ‘when did you last read a CV?’

Looking forward to the conversation at TruLondon – and you can start it in the comments section here if you like!

And here are a couple of videos from the earlier quotes to put you in the mood…

2 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Loves Social Competition / May 5 2012 12:12 AM

    This is exactly what I have been thinking about recently. so great post.

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