CVs are less than perfect; in today’s job market, the traditional ‘2 sides of A4’ is starting to seem a little outdated. But is the CV dying out for good?

The problems with traditional CVs span from plain old fibbing to a lack of insight about a candidate’s ability to settle into the role, and your organisation. So is the CV simply a remnant of old-fashioned recruiting that should be left behind, or is there still merit in keeping it around?

Current issues with CVs

Overlooking ability

Employers are increasingly recognising the importance of soft skills, even valuing them above qualifications in some cases, and in this respect the CV is leaving much to be desired. How do you really communicate that you’re a people-person or have a great telephone manner on a stripped back list of academic achievements? Or how does a young person without work experience convey passion, enthusiasm and a can-do attitude when all they’re asked for is a list of exam results?

Unconscious bias

Unconscious bias is also a recognised issue in the HR and recruitment industry. Of course, it’s not an issue exclusive to CVs – we also have unconscious bias when meeting and talking to candidates in interviews. However even before this stage some data on CVs, such as names or universities, might be preventing people getting in the door. And it’s vital that this changes:

“Talent diversity and inclusiveness are no longer seen as ‘soft’ issues, but rather as crucial competitive capabilities. Of the CEOs whose companies have a formal diversity and inclusiveness strategy, 85% think it’s improved the bottom line” – Launchpad Recruits.*

Recruitment technology

Much has been said about writing CVs to ‘beat the ATS’. Applicant Tracking Systems are sometimes seen as a ‘necessary evil’, designed to ease the job of an inundated in-house recruiter by filtering candidates based on keywords, while making it near impossible for jobseekers to submit a CV that won’t be filtered out of the process or deleted altogether.

Can the CV evolve?

Smart software

A smart ATS is more than just a keyword bot. Clever CV parsing algorithms will ensure that recruiters can quickly and effectively identify the talent they need.


CV alternatives

As technology evolves, consider accepting alternatives to traditional CVs to let candidates demonstrate their personality and working values, beyond formal qualifications or previous roles. There are a few extreme examples of this (e.g. a chocolate bar CV or a billboard) but this could be as simple as a written letter or a short video CV.

You might consider using gamification for the first application stage. The British Intelligence Agency MI5, for example, has started using gamification to assess prospective spies on their ability to process information, and their observation and analytical skills.**

Consider the roles you’re hiring for, and what you’d like to know about the candidate. For example if the vacancy is for a design role, you’ll want to get a measure of how creative and communicative they are, so you might want to encourage more creative ‘CVs’. Or if you value soft skills over qualifications, for example when taking on an apprentice, consider the best ways to pull this information rather than relying on a traditional resume.

The answer?

Recruitment is constantly evolving in line with new technology and candidate expectations. We believe the CV can move with the times. The key for employers is understanding what application methods will be in line with their hiring processes, and what will best suit different job roles.

It’s also essential for employers to implement ways to manage common CV issues. Unconscious bias can be managed by evaluating how your organisation screens and processes candidates. If you’re concerned about bias in your recruitment, try using name-blind or university-blind CVs.

And to tackle CV white lies and inconsistencies, assess your CV-checking processes, and make sure you perform the appropriate verifications and background checks for the role.

The CV has faced many challenges throughout years, from the emergence of recruitment technology to changing perceptions in hiring. However, with the development of sophisticated technology that can work alongside the CV instead of against it, and recruiters who tailor their application processes based on the job role or candidate expectations, we believe the CV has life in it yet.

*The Paradox Of Diversity & Inclusion – Launchpad Recruits
**Playing the game – what are the business benefits of gamification? – HRZone


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About the author

Tristan Potter

Tristan has a decade's worth of experience writing content and copy for organisations across Bristol and the Southwest of England. He has written on a diverse range of topics, including technology, philosophy, politics, and recruitment. His writing has appeared in The Drum, HR Grapevine, and The Guardian, among other publications. He joined Hireserve in March 2022.