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October 5, 2010 / Mervyn Dinnen

To CV or Not To CV

I posed a question on Twitter last week to in house recruiters and HR professionals:

In-House recruiters/HR Pros…would you interview someone purely from a LinkedIn profile or social media footprint? Without a physical CV?

Reason was that I had met a really strong candidate who had not yet prepared an up to date CV and I wanted a client to meet her straight away…I wondered if a LinkedIn profile and my notes and impressions would suffice.

My Twitter question started an interesting debate; here are some of the answers:

‘No, would definitely back up the Linked In profile with a physical CV’

‘Depends how comprehensive their profile was’

‘Possibly – think I would want to see their CV at some point, but would organise an interview on the back of their linked in profile’

Yes definitely, at least for first stage / informal conversation’

‘Not generally. Might speak, engage and arrange interview based on the Social Media footprint but likely to want CV before the interview’

‘I still prefer to see a “real” CV before setting up an interview’

‘A full Linked In profile is coming closer and closer to a classic CV. But I like it when a candidate shows interest by sending me something’

‘Depends on the strength of the profile. Always suspicious of some recommendations I see though

‘I would likely have a conversation with someone without a CV, but would still want a formal presentation before going further

Clearly there was belief that a physical CV is still important…but why??

I can understand some form of a CV being needed if there was no other way of establishing a candidate’s background, but I was intrigued that clientside recruiters would still want a CV even if there was information about the candidate publicly available through social media.

My immediate thoughts were…

–          Does the physical CV act as a kind of filter? It’s almost an excuse. It enables you to read and reject a candidate because ‘they don’t seem to have the right experience’. But previous experience isn’t always the best indicator of future performance. A physical, or ‘real’, CV tells you little about the candidate’s personality, motivators, passions, presence, capabilities or potential.

–          If the candidate has a full profile on Linked In then still this isn’t enough. There’s a picture, summary of skills and qualities, experience, career history, education and interests. Hopefully there will be some references too. And that’s not all…there will be groups of which they are a member, connections, links to other social media platforms they use. There will, in fact, be lots of things that may not be on a physical CV. Yet we still don’t seem to ‘trust’ it…even though it is probably harder to ‘mislead’ on a public platform than in a private document.

–          Even if we interview someone based on their social media ‘footprint’ we still want to see a physical CV before moving to the next stage. Somehow this legitimises their application, shows that they are taking the application seriously. But how about the effort they may put into creating and maintaining their LI profile, their blogs, their Twitter stream…this shows a different kind of commitment but one that may be even more important to their future success in a new role.

I’ve seen a lot written about the ‘death’ of the CV recently…both from those who agree and those who don’t.  Clearly most hirers expect to see some form of CV so it may be a bit early for the last rites.

Wherever you look there are coaches, tutors, consultants, gurus and experts offering advice to jobseekers on how to create, maintain and promote their online profiles to ensure maximum exposure. They are told to use the full range of platforms and tools at their disposal.

Yet even though they may be found, and found because they have the skills, knowledge and potential that a future employer may be looking for, they still need to present a CV which may actually be less impressive than the information that already exists about them.

So I’m asking again…would you interview, and consider hiring, someone who didn’t have a physical CV, but who had an active social media profile which told you more about them than a physical CV might??

Let me know what you think…

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23 Comments

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  1. Jeremy Jacobs / Oct 5 2010 3:05 PM

    What about a general CV on a website?

  2. paul anderson / Oct 5 2010 3:10 PM

    Be interested to take the discussion one step further. Would you interview someone where you were almost certain that the CV was cut and pasted from their linked in profile?
    Is a CV purely adding a depth of commitment to the application, or merely an antiquated form of presentation?
    I am firmly on the side of a linked in profile being acceptable, and I have worked in house, agency side and as an employer.

    • Mervyn Dinnen / Oct 6 2010 9:01 PM

      We tell candidates to make their LI profile and CV identical, so it may be that ‘standard’ presentation that hirers want to see. Maybe sending a client a link to an LI profile somehow implies that we, as recruiters, haven’t done a ‘proper’ job?? Be interesting to get a view on commitment in a job hunt.

  3. thehrd / Oct 5 2010 3:46 PM

    This is about simplicity in my humble opinion. If I am recruiting (which I try to avoid because I can only stab myself in the testicles so many times) I will normally be looking at more than one person. To make it easy for me it helps if information is presented in a more or less standard format. I think it is the role of the recruiter and the role of the candidate to make it easy for me. Even more so in the current economic climate.

    • Mervyn Dinnen / Oct 6 2010 9:04 PM

      Make it easy Theo?? Finding the right person for your business shouldn’t be easy!! Seriously though, LI profiles are all in a standard format so why not compare a number of them?

  4. Richard Sherman / Oct 5 2010 7:35 PM

    Ever since you posed this question, I’ve been mulling it over. Like TheHRD, I am looking for whatever makes it easiest for me to get as much of a picture of a candidate as I can within the limitations of the written word. I think that best serves us, the organization, and the candidates – they have an equal interest in my being able to clearly understand their skills and experience in a quick, clear manner. The results of my brain working on this has resulted in two points:

    1. As the professionals involved in sourcing and ensuring candidates are the best possible fit before a hiring manager meets them, we should be welcoming of anything that makes this easier. If it suits our own style, then I think reviewing candidates purely based on LinkedIn profiles is completely viable. For myself, I could see posting a position and requiring that candidates present themselves this way, rather than through a traditional resume/CV (with all the usual steps to ensure that I am equally reaching and capturing candidates who may not have access to LinkedIn). This would be particularly useful if I were recruiting candidates who must be facile with social media and online tools in general.

    2. The hurdle I foresee would be with my internal teams. Even in some of the most technologically facile organizations I have been in, there are hiring managers who insist on printed, traditional resumes/CVs, and that’s a hard-stop for them. In my current firm, I would be hard pressed to present anything other than the very traditional. So I think our next step in this arena is to challenge the intellectual curiosity of our internal hiring managers to expand their definition of “candidate materials”. It may take a bit of work and time, but it would be fascinating if we can get there.

    Thanks for the question…interesting stuff to think on.

    • Mervyn Dinnen / Oct 6 2010 9:11 PM

      Thanks for commenting Richard. I think that the traditional CV is a default mode for many hiring managers, it’s something that they’re comfortable with, and can be used as a quasi checklist of skills and experiences. It also creates lazy recruiters who no longer ‘present’ candidates in the right way.
      I originally intended to use the line…’the trouble with CVs is that in black and white they can all look a little grey’ – I wish I had…the challenge for social media profiles will be to bring the candidate to life.

  5. Recruitment Dad / Oct 5 2010 8:05 PM

    A CV, in my opinion, is held in too high a regard. I have met and interviewed individuals whose CV is clearly not them. In fact, there are even those I have interviewed who have removed previous employers for highly dubious reasons. A linkedin profile is as likely to be manipulated as a CV (perhaps a little more??) It is not the need for a CV or a profile that is complete; it is the need for a structured presentation of someone’s history and experience from which to develop an interview. In my past I have been interviewed, and hired, without any form of CV or “historical document” – it was about personality, culture, goals and values. This is not on a CV so I guess is why the interview exists. So, in a round about way, I answer the question. Yes I would interview someone from a Linkedin profile. If I, like the HRD, seek standardised format then that is more probable from Linkedin than a CV. Simply press the PDF icon on the right hand side of their profile and Bob’s your uncle.

    CVs are over rated, though they do have a purpose. The best recruitment is through recommendation and personal networks; not CVs.

    • Jeremy Jacobs / Oct 5 2010 10:57 PM

      Spot on RD

    • Mervyn Dinnen / Oct 6 2010 9:16 PM

      As Jeremy says, spot on! Deferring to my reply to Richard’s comment it’s the greyness of so many CVs, the interchangeability (if such a word exists) that can often lead to a pile of applications being rejected.
      I agree, the right candidate possesses personality, character, values and goals that sometimes can only shine through in a format in which the candidate can show their true character.

  6. James Mayes / Oct 6 2010 9:39 AM

    A CV (or indeed a LinkedIn Profile) can often represent the starting point only – and certainly not the best representation of the candidate. I used to find in my niche technical markets that the best candidates were terrible at writing marketing documents (CV’s, online profiles) but superb at demonstrating their knowledge through blog posts, forum discussions, etc. I often used such sites as my primary sourcing ground.

    Similarly, I experienced something earlier this year where a candidate was smart enough to recognise his CV wasn’t the best way to sell himself – so he purposely did not include traditional contact details. I blogged it here, if you’re interested: http://wp.me/pPmPM-1L

    • Mervyn Dinnen / Oct 6 2010 9:20 PM

      Thanks for link and comments James. I do think that in future the consistency that many have spoken about will be harder to present. Each candidate will express themselves, through the various platforms and channels available, in a unique way. Do you think the time will come when a client may stipulate a format? eg All applications through a 2 minute you tube video? or a;; applicants should blog on topic xxxxx?

      • James Mayes / Oct 7 2010 9:55 AM

        I recall when leaving university, that consistency did exist – at least in the direct hire world. No employer I spoke to was interested in a CV, they all had a standard application form which had to be completed and a CV was considered completely irrelevant. Some clients will always looks to implement consistency via some method or other, often in the belief that it helps them guard against all kinds of claims for discrimination of one sort or another if they can show they always judge on the same criteria. However, it’s also true that no client has a completely secure agency agreement because rogue managers will always fight the rules. Same is true of consistency in hiring methodology. LinkedIn and social media generally are not game-changers in this sense – they simply add an additional dimension to a debate that’s run for decades already.

  7. stephenod293 / Oct 6 2010 7:54 PM

    In the late 80’s, in HMS recruitment, we were barred from sending CV’s to clients, as it merely slowed the process down, and gave them reasons NOT to interview the candidate.
    For the most part, clients accepted that, and agreed to interviews based on our recommendation. Candidates were of course expected to bring their CV to the interview.
    Once new technology became available, in the form of fax machines, we broke the rules and sent CV’s. True enough, it did still slow down the process.

    HRD is right, it is essential to be able to compare candidates by using a consistent format, whether it be a CV, Linkedin profile or whatever.

    • Mervyn Dinnen / Oct 6 2010 9:26 PM

      I was there too Stephen! Interviews over the phone, candidate takes CV to interview. As I said in an earlier blog, when clients want things done differently, then the game changes. As it did with fax machines and then e-mails. When you and I started, the client trusted our recommendations, but technology definitely changed that by removing a kind of mystique. The client could immediately see the same source material that we were using…without the benefit of a physical interview.
      Maybe in future we video our interviews and send clients a series of trailers…we have the technology (but will they have the time)??

  8. Andy Headworth / Oct 7 2010 10:35 AM

    Great post Merv.

    To answer the simple question, I would happily use LinkedIn profiles as candidate criteria to recruit from. BUT as only approx 15-20% of candidates are on LI it would make it difficult!

    CV’s aren’t dead at all, there are still too many traditionalists in middle to senior management to change it. However, I think where the innovation will come is in the grad (and dare I say it genY) space.
    Maybe not LI, but certainly online profiles where they can aggregate different network content, to promote their skills, will be the way forward.

    Not sure what that looks like yet – maybe if LI get more funky as they appear to be doing, they will become even bigger than they are now.

    However if Facebook, were to have their own CV page version, that just might be the game changer!

    Andy

  9. Clare / Oct 7 2010 11:05 AM

    RecruitmentDad says “In my past I have been interviewed, and hired, without any form of CV or “historical document” – it was about personality, culture, goals and values. ”

    Me, too. I’ve also been hired on the basis of what I’ve written and done online – presumably this being clearer proof of my abilities than what I write on my CV. However, I’ve also been asked to provide my CV “for the files” – proving, perhaps, that somewhere in the organisation someone has procedures that have to be followed.

  10. paul anderson / Oct 7 2010 1:01 PM

    If the ‘ideal’ from a hiring mangers/HR perspective is a standardised format for convenience and or ease of comparison – what would the suggestions be for someone to stand out of the crowd?
    Surely a linked in profile with a number of client/employer recommendations would stand head and shoulders above a basic chronological review of someones past?

  11. Jacob Sten Madsen / Oct 12 2010 11:33 AM

    Answer to your question Mervyn: Yes definitely provided it was a full comprehensive profile from which I could carry out enough assessment of skills and culture fit, – and have done so several times.
    I am of the opnion that no CV should ever be standard and that for each job a candidate must must must tailor their CV to reflect that they are/could be a match.
    In that respect CV is essential to have from candidate as it is in the tailored CV to a specific role that one can see and learn how much of a possible match they may be, and at the same time can learn what effort and length candidate has gone to in terms of pulling forward the skills/experiences/background to be a (near)match.

    • Mervyn Dinnen / Oct 13 2010 11:00 PM

      Thanks for reading and your comment Jacob. It’s an interesting topic, that seems to have divided opinion. Out of interest, would you take the information tailored to the specifics of the role as a separate document, supporting the details/profile that you already had, which maybe highlighted specific achievements that were relative to the role?

  12. Gareth Jenkins / Nov 19 2010 2:24 AM

    Interesting comments all round. My original response to Mervyn’s post on this on Twitter was “depends how full the profile was”. Put simply, if it has all the work history, education, and was geared in content towards selling their achievements, then of course! It’s a CV in standardized format with added bells and whistles! If we have enough online profile systems in the future using standardized presentation formats such as hResume or even HrXML versions, we could even do away with any need for CV parsers and import relatively easily straight into your ATS or Talent System of choice.. I’ve spent far too much time when recruiting in hunting through wildly differently formated CVs to track down the info I want in a quick time. The problem is that too many LinkedIn profiles aren’t QUITE yet achivement focused enough (although I’ve seen many that are).

    My blog post on this a little while back raised some more thoughts on LinkedIn profiles: http://www.4mat.com/blog/should-will-linkedin-move-towards-allowing-a-hidden-recruitment-focused-profile–blog-03012814102

    All of that said though – If I was referred a candidate from a truly trusted source, I’d be highly likely to interview with minimal profile/CV details seen.

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