The evidence that CVs are no longer the best way of identifying your best people is clear but then the discussion has to move onto - then what do we use instead?  The answer is that without any standard document, you can now tailor your new approach to meet your requirements.  The level of change and redesign is based on how comfortable your organisation is with cultural shifts (this is more than a process change, but a whole new way of thinking and acting).  It is also dependent upon your organisation's requirements for particular technical skills, qualifications and experience.  Although we talk about ditching the CV completely, we acknowledge that for some roles, it may be required to know that the person has done this role before.  Our argument is that it doesn't have to apply to  everyone  that you hire and you may use it more specifically around, for example, contingent staff who are brought in specifically for their knowledge and skills.  Many  of the options suggested below can be used in conjunction with a CV (although we will always try to argue you out of it!)  Without starting with the CV, you can redesign how your organisation is structured, how your teams are built and how your strategy gets implemented.  Each team becomes clear on exactly what it is they are responsible for, how that feeds into the overall profitability of the business and what people they need in order to achieve it.   Once you know what you need, you are able to search for candidates who match the specific objectives that have been set for that team, so it is clear from day 1 what they are being asked to achieve - and the selection process is focused on giving them an opportunity to explain how they would go about that.  And how could you find candidates?  These again are completely customisable to your business, but a few obvious options are clear:  The use of an  Application Form  process has been a preferred method for many already, but the danger is that such a form merely replicates the information that is on the CV.  A review of the form can allow each team to be more specific about their requirements, and create forms that allow customisation.  This enables selection to be based on a fully-formed picture of the candidate by allowing them to focus on how they approach work and the way they believe they can contribute to the success of the team and organisation.  A  Personal Profile  is another alternative - an opportunity to provide deeper and more meaningful information about the candidate, which can be organisation-specific, or a document that the candidates can begin to provide to suitable organisations, where they are used.  As the use of the CV reduces, so a profile such as this may become the candidate's professional career calling card.  In the era of online personal branding,  LinkedIn  profiles are becoming recruiter's preferred choice anyway.  Instead of using it as a checkpoint against the CV, it can be used as the premier method of candidate selection.  Many types of  Psychometric Testing  allow organisations to break down the characteristics and behaviours of suitable people into elements that are more adaptable to the task in hand.  As qualified GCologists, our personal preference is for the GC Index (c), an organometric test that shows the contribution and impact a person can make and thereby allows teams to be built with the right mix of individuals to make each team truly successful, engaged and committed.  But if you already use some form of psychometric profiling, this can be re-utilised and re-imagined.  If all of that feels just too far out of your comfort zone, then don't worry - if you still need to use the CV in some way due to the nature of the roles requiring qualifications, experience and roles then there are still ways to adopt its usage to be more people-centric and less process centric.  We are able to discuss your specific requirements and tailor a solution that works for you so you get the most benefit from the option you choose, and the support you need to make the change.        
 
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The evidence that CVs are no longer the best way of identifying your best people is clear but then the discussion has to move onto - then what do we use instead?  The answer is that without any standard document, you can now tailor your new approach to meet your requirements.

The level of change and redesign is based on how comfortable your organisation is with cultural shifts (this is more than a process change, but a whole new way of thinking and acting).  It is also dependent upon your organisation's requirements for particular technical skills, qualifications and experience.  Although we talk about ditching the CV completely, we acknowledge that for some roles, it may be required to know that the person has done this role before.  Our argument is that it doesn't have to apply to everyone that you hire and you may use it more specifically around, for example, contingent staff who are brought in specifically for their knowledge and skills.  Many  of the options suggested below can be used in conjunction with a CV (although we will always try to argue you out of it!)

Without starting with the CV, you can redesign how your organisation is structured, how your teams are built and how your strategy gets implemented.  Each team becomes clear on exactly what it is they are responsible for, how that feeds into the overall profitability of the business and what people they need in order to achieve it. 

Once you know what you need, you are able to search for candidates who match the specific objectives that have been set for that team, so it is clear from day 1 what they are being asked to achieve - and the selection process is focused on giving them an opportunity to explain how they would go about that.

And how could you find candidates?  These again are completely customisable to your business, but a few obvious options are clear:

The use of an Application Form process has been a preferred method for many already, but the danger is that such a form merely replicates the information that is on the CV.  A review of the form can allow each team to be more specific about their requirements, and create forms that allow customisation.  This enables selection to be based on a fully-formed picture of the candidate by allowing them to focus on how they approach work and the way they believe they can contribute to the success of the team and organisation.

A Personal Profile is another alternative - an opportunity to provide deeper and more meaningful information about the candidate, which can be organisation-specific, or a document that the candidates can begin to provide to suitable organisations, where they are used.  As the use of the CV reduces, so a profile such as this may become the candidate's professional career calling card.

In the era of online personal branding, LinkedIn profiles are becoming recruiter's preferred choice anyway.  Instead of using it as a checkpoint against the CV, it can be used as the premier method of candidate selection.

Many types of Psychometric Testing allow organisations to break down the characteristics and behaviours of suitable people into elements that are more adaptable to the task in hand.  As qualified GCologists, our personal preference is for the GC Index (c), an organometric test that shows the contribution and impact a person can make and thereby allows teams to be built with the right mix of individuals to make each team truly successful, engaged and committed.  But if you already use some form of psychometric profiling, this can be re-utilised and re-imagined.

If all of that feels just too far out of your comfort zone, then don't worry - if you still need to use the CV in some way due to the nature of the roles requiring qualifications, experience and roles then there are still ways to adopt its usage to be more people-centric and less process centric.

We are able to discuss your specific requirements and tailor a solution that works for you so you get the most benefit from the option you choose, and the support you need to make the change.

 

      We are told we need CVs to see what experience, skills and knowledge an individual has, to help understand whether they will be able to deal with the role's requirements.  In a risk adverse organisation, hiring people who have done that role before for another business provides a sense of security - I can hire them, because someone else hired them before.  And, to make it even safer, they stipulate a minimum required years' of experience - the logic again being, if they have had that amount of time doing the role, they will be more able to do the job here.   But the use of experience has a couple of problematic issues:   1. Experience and Performance are Separate Things   It is dangerous to assume that because someone has been able to do a job for a while (many hiring managers look for candidates with minimum 1 year in every role) that we believe them to have performed that role competently.  Equally, we cannot assume that someone who worked for 3-6 months in an organisation didn't make a massive contribution in the short time they were there.  Assuming that you must be a good performer because you didn't get fired is a slippery slope.  In many large organisations, performance management is a long, drawn out process - if it is initiated at all.  Sometimes the industry job market is so fluid that it is more likely that the person will choose to leave and then you avoid a stressful performance management process.  If it is launched, then the process can go on for months, being stressful for everyone involved. Either way, a year can pass easily before the situation resolves itself.  The absolute maximum you can gauge from the details provided on a CV is that they worked in that role, for that organisation, for that length of time. The challenge in the interview stage is to determine their performance during that time - were all of the activities listed performed by them and did they perform them well?  And many organisations now require screening to be done on the information provided as well, as part of the onboarding process, to make sure that what was put down was accurate.  So even when a CV lists experience, we still can't fully trust it.   2. Lots of Experience Loses Out to Recent Experience   Everyone knows that there should be no gaps on a CV.  We are told this by recruiters and agents, and as a hiring manager I certainly took gaps into consideration when I was reading CVs.  A gap is an issue for a couple of reasons - it maybe shows something of the 'employability' of the person (if they were good, wouldn't they be employed all of the time?) or it suggests that you may have lost touch with the industry you are in, as it is assumed that only relevant skills and knowledge collected during employment counts.   Its the second one that makes it so difficult for women to return to work after children and compounds a challenge they faced earlier in their career:  Before children - "You need to have at least x years' experience to get this role / get promoted / get a pay rise" - yet no-one is prepared to give you the role in order to start amassing the experience.  After children, even with experience - "Your experience is too old, and the lack of recent experience means you can't do the job / get promoted / get a pay rise."  Which one is it?  Either you need years of experience (with the logical assumption that somewhere in those years will be knowledge and skills that you can call on) or you need recent experience (with the logical assumption that you can't retain anything of any use if you get distracted by something else for a short while).  Instead, we have this confusing scenario which says - you have to have the recent experience, backed up by years of experience - which inevitably locks many talented people out of being able to continue in their career unimpeded.  Having the ability to call on years of working a particular role or in a particular industry is incredibly powerful - but if that is all we are looking at, we are stopping any future high performers getting a chance based on an unhelpful technicality.  And make no mistake - if experience is one of the key aspects of your pre-screening search criteria, you are going to miss lots of amazing people who could be the future of your company.

We are told we need CVs to see what experience, skills and knowledge an individual has, to help understand whether they will be able to deal with the role's requirements.  In a risk adverse organisation, hiring people who have done that role before for another business provides a sense of security - I can hire them, because someone else hired them before.  And, to make it even safer, they stipulate a minimum required years' of experience - the logic again being, if they have had that amount of time doing the role, they will be more able to do the job here. 

But the use of experience has a couple of problematic issues:

1. Experience and Performance are Separate Things

It is dangerous to assume that because someone has been able to do a job for a while (many hiring managers look for candidates with minimum 1 year in every role) that we believe them to have performed that role competently.  Equally, we cannot assume that someone who worked for 3-6 months in an organisation didn't make a massive contribution in the short time they were there.

Assuming that you must be a good performer because you didn't get fired is a slippery slope.  In many large organisations, performance management is a long, drawn out process - if it is initiated at all.  Sometimes the industry job market is so fluid that it is more likely that the person will choose to leave and then you avoid a stressful performance management process.  If it is launched, then the process can go on for months, being stressful for everyone involved. Either way, a year can pass easily before the situation resolves itself.

The absolute maximum you can gauge from the details provided on a CV is that they worked in that role, for that organisation, for that length of time. The challenge in the interview stage is to determine their performance during that time - were all of the activities listed performed by them and did they perform them well?  And many organisations now require screening to be done on the information provided as well, as part of the onboarding process, to make sure that what was put down was accurate.  So even when a CV lists experience, we still can't fully trust it.

2. Lots of Experience Loses Out to Recent Experience

Everyone knows that there should be no gaps on a CV.  We are told this by recruiters and agents, and as a hiring manager I certainly took gaps into consideration when I was reading CVs.  A gap is an issue for a couple of reasons - it maybe shows something of the 'employability' of the person (if they were good, wouldn't they be employed all of the time?) or it suggests that you may have lost touch with the industry you are in, as it is assumed that only relevant skills and knowledge collected during employment counts. 

Its the second one that makes it so difficult for women to return to work after children and compounds a challenge they faced earlier in their career:

Before children - "You need to have at least x years' experience to get this role / get promoted / get a pay rise" - yet no-one is prepared to give you the role in order to start amassing the experience.

After children, even with experience - "Your experience is too old, and the lack of recent experience means you can't do the job / get promoted / get a pay rise."

Which one is it?

Either you need years of experience (with the logical assumption that somewhere in those years will be knowledge and skills that you can call on) or you need recent experience (with the logical assumption that you can't retain anything of any use if you get distracted by something else for a short while).

Instead, we have this confusing scenario which says - you have to have the recent experience, backed up by years of experience - which inevitably locks many talented people out of being able to continue in their career unimpeded.

Having the ability to call on years of working a particular role or in a particular industry is incredibly powerful - but if that is all we are looking at, we are stopping any future high performers getting a chance based on an unhelpful technicality.  And make no mistake - if experience is one of the key aspects of your pre-screening search criteria, you are going to miss lots of amazing people who could be the future of your company.

      Much of my work has related to understanding how best to encourage better diversity in the workplace.  The many initiatives that have been set up to tackle diversity challenges are well-meaning and are having some success in driving forward more equality.  However, even if we had that equality, even if we had 'solved' the diversity issue, we would still have the issues of low employee engagement, the widening skills gap and the increased need for speed and innovation in organisations that are tanker-like in their ability to change course rapidly.   Why solve the diversity issue if the system you are trying to make it work in is broken itself?   It makes no sense to force in diversity initiatives when the system doesn't work for those who it is supposed to be benefiting already.  The logistics that dominates so much of the discussions around better gender equality - offering flexible working practices and supportive management for carers of all kinds - will not solve the critical issue of how you find the right people for your organisation, to take it forward and to support its growth.  As with many commercial decisions, the flexibility an organisation can offer already works well when the person is seen as so vital that the company works around them, not the other way around.  And that happens when it is clear what that person will contribute to the company.  If we are able to turn the focus on what is to be delivered, to what standard and what timelines, and identify the person who approaches this in a way that aligns with our company values, approach and culture, then how they deliver it becomes far less of an important issue.  If WHAT needs to be done is clearly agreed between the individual and the line manager, then the HOW becomes less of a block.  This is clearly demonstrated if you look at the trend over the last decade or so of offshoring or outsourcing critical tasks.  There was initially a lot of concern from line management that it would be impossible to manage a team who were physically remote and in a different time zone.  Yet, because there were strong commercial reasons for doing so, organisations found a way to manage the teams, to the point we are now, where it is not even seen as an issue to have a remote team.  If we can make a team perform from the other side of the world, in a different time zone, then what is the difficulty behind doing it for someone who is closer to home?  The difference is in the  willingness  to move forward, which gets driven to a large extent by the commercial drivers.  If you are going to make a significant change to the way you work, it is prudent to look at what changes need to be made and how much would be needed to shift the needle.  If you are aware that the way you recruit, manage and lead your people is not working as well as you would like, then spending money on a diversity initiative will not yield the results you are after.  It is better to fix the system first, then you may even find that diversity has taken care of itself because you now have a process that is intrinsically equal for all.

Much of my work has related to understanding how best to encourage better diversity in the workplace.  The many initiatives that have been set up to tackle diversity challenges are well-meaning and are having some success in driving forward more equality.  However, even if we had that equality, even if we had 'solved' the diversity issue, we would still have the issues of low employee engagement, the widening skills gap and the increased need for speed and innovation in organisations that are tanker-like in their ability to change course rapidly.

Why solve the diversity issue if the system you are trying to make it work in is broken itself?  It makes no sense to force in diversity initiatives when the system doesn't work for those who it is supposed to be benefiting already.

The logistics that dominates so much of the discussions around better gender equality - offering flexible working practices and supportive management for carers of all kinds - will not solve the critical issue of how you find the right people for your organisation, to take it forward and to support its growth.  As with many commercial decisions, the flexibility an organisation can offer already works well when the person is seen as so vital that the company works around them, not the other way around.  And that happens when it is clear what that person will contribute to the company.  If we are able to turn the focus on what is to be delivered, to what standard and what timelines, and identify the person who approaches this in a way that aligns with our company values, approach and culture, then how they deliver it becomes far less of an important issue.  If WHAT needs to be done is clearly agreed between the individual and the line manager, then the HOW becomes less of a block.

This is clearly demonstrated if you look at the trend over the last decade or so of offshoring or outsourcing critical tasks.  There was initially a lot of concern from line management that it would be impossible to manage a team who were physically remote and in a different time zone.  Yet, because there were strong commercial reasons for doing so, organisations found a way to manage the teams, to the point we are now, where it is not even seen as an issue to have a remote team.  If we can make a team perform from the other side of the world, in a different time zone, then what is the difficulty behind doing it for someone who is closer to home?  The difference is in the willingness to move forward, which gets driven to a large extent by the commercial drivers.

If you are going to make a significant change to the way you work, it is prudent to look at what changes need to be made and how much would be needed to shift the needle.  If you are aware that the way you recruit, manage and lead your people is not working as well as you would like, then spending money on a diversity initiative will not yield the results you are after.  It is better to fix the system first, then you may even find that diversity has taken care of itself because you now have a process that is intrinsically equal for all.

      Many companies use a combination of permanent and contingent workers in order to create flex within their people.  Permanent staff are seen as those who have a long term future with the company, and whom the organisation will invest in with benefits, pastoral care and investments in training and development.  Contractors, on the other hand, are workers with specific knowledge, skills or experience that are needed, and their higher than a salary rates reflect the fact that there is no long term commitment past the initial contract, and they tend to have shorter notice periods and considerably fewer benefits, not getting paid for holidays or sick days.   Over the years, the focus of how to best utilise your permanent and contractor workers has become heavily focused on financial reasons than the descriptions above.  When business is good and growth is forecasted, there is an emphasis on hiring permanent staff to grow the organisation.  When the economy contracts, contractors can plug gaps in the resourcing requirements with the company safe in the knowledge that, if needed, the contracts can be cancelled quickly and cleanly.  In larger organisations, the decision can also be made on where the line manager has the most influence. They may have the ability to hire contractors (or consultants) more easily than permanent staff (which tends to trigger a host of further HR processes) and so will make the decision accordingly.  If you are under pressure to deliver quickly, then naturally you gravitate to the options that can move fast and under your influence as much as possible.  But there is a growing problem - on many occasions, organisations bring someone in who they would ideally like as a permanent member of staff, but who is working as a contractor and does not want to take the inevitable hit to their monthly take home pay.  So they hire the contractor, justifying it by using the argument that as a contingent worker, they can be dismissed when needed.  If this individual brings in real value to the team, whether by generating income, or by having technical knowledge that their permanent team mates do not have, then the ability to remove them reduces until a point in time where they ultimately have the power over how long they stay with you and how much you pay them for doing so.    When the decision to hire is made on financial considerations, but the decision to fire is made on ability to deliver considerations, it creates the risk for many companies that they will continue to see increasing financial burdens as the amount of people who are relied upon increases, which could lead to spiralling costs and ultimately, the decision to reduce spending via reducing the workforce for both permanent and contingent staff.  As part of the Ditching the CV, the assessment of the right mix of perm and contractor staff is a critical first step.  By returning to the distinction between the two types of worker, it becomes clearer that your decision on who to hire should originate from your expectations of that hire: if you are expecting them to be part of the future of the organisation, to help it grow and commit to building it to new heights, then you need permanent hires.  If you are looking for specific knowledge, technical skills or targeted experience, which will be applied to current projects but that may not be needed in the future once the project is completed, you select contractors.  The selection of the right people is made based on an understanding of the right mix needed to be effective in your organisation, and makes it far simpler for hiring managers to know what type of team member they need related to what type of objective they have.   

Many companies use a combination of permanent and contingent workers in order to create flex within their people.  Permanent staff are seen as those who have a long term future with the company, and whom the organisation will invest in with benefits, pastoral care and investments in training and development.  Contractors, on the other hand, are workers with specific knowledge, skills or experience that are needed, and their higher than a salary rates reflect the fact that there is no long term commitment past the initial contract, and they tend to have shorter notice periods and considerably fewer benefits, not getting paid for holidays or sick days. 

Over the years, the focus of how to best utilise your permanent and contractor workers has become heavily focused on financial reasons than the descriptions above.  When business is good and growth is forecasted, there is an emphasis on hiring permanent staff to grow the organisation.  When the economy contracts, contractors can plug gaps in the resourcing requirements with the company safe in the knowledge that, if needed, the contracts can be cancelled quickly and cleanly.  In larger organisations, the decision can also be made on where the line manager has the most influence. They may have the ability to hire contractors (or consultants) more easily than permanent staff (which tends to trigger a host of further HR processes) and so will make the decision accordingly.  If you are under pressure to deliver quickly, then naturally you gravitate to the options that can move fast and under your influence as much as possible.

But there is a growing problem - on many occasions, organisations bring someone in who they would ideally like as a permanent member of staff, but who is working as a contractor and does not want to take the inevitable hit to their monthly take home pay.  So they hire the contractor, justifying it by using the argument that as a contingent worker, they can be dismissed when needed.  If this individual brings in real value to the team, whether by generating income, or by having technical knowledge that their permanent team mates do not have, then the ability to remove them reduces until a point in time where they ultimately have the power over how long they stay with you and how much you pay them for doing so.  

When the decision to hire is made on financial considerations, but the decision to fire is made on ability to deliver considerations, it creates the risk for many companies that they will continue to see increasing financial burdens as the amount of people who are relied upon increases, which could lead to spiralling costs and ultimately, the decision to reduce spending via reducing the workforce for both permanent and contingent staff.

As part of the Ditching the CV, the assessment of the right mix of perm and contractor staff is a critical first step.  By returning to the distinction between the two types of worker, it becomes clearer that your decision on who to hire should originate from your expectations of that hire: if you are expecting them to be part of the future of the organisation, to help it grow and commit to building it to new heights, then you need permanent hires.  If you are looking for specific knowledge, technical skills or targeted experience, which will be applied to current projects but that may not be needed in the future once the project is completed, you select contractors.  The selection of the right people is made based on an understanding of the right mix needed to be effective in your organisation, and makes it far simpler for hiring managers to know what type of team member they need related to what type of objective they have.

 

      When I began working, I had managers who wanted to help steer me in the right direction with what I could reasonably expect out of my career. Some of the advice - well, it was not good.  Techniques on how to fire people without consequences were not something that I felt made me the ‘team player’ I wanted to be.  But some of the advice was really useful and I have always kept it in mind.  One particular piece of wisdom was given to me by multiple managers and it was this - be careful how you treat people on the way up, as you never know where they will be when you are on the way back down.   This is sensible advice, as it acknowledges that much of your success will not be due to your own actions but the reactions you trigger in other people.  In some organisations and certainly in some industries, this may not seem to be relevant - for them, success is built on the bodies of others, rather than them giving you willing support.  But this opens you up to the risk that you make a lot of enemies, with many people who would not only enjoy watching your downfall, but maybe even get actively involved in making it happen.  Meeting the same people at different stages of your career, for better or for worse, is very likely because of another significant factor - in most industries there is a stagnant workforce.  What do I mean by stagnant?  I mean those individuals who have done the full carousel, switching between organisations, getting their new job as a consequence of having their old job, getting maybe a little more money, or a grade promotion, an office, maybe even a PA for themselves.  By the time they come back to their original company (which they invariably do) they cost more and expect to be a lot more senior than they were initially.  We talk about industries being full of exactly the same people, just moving from business to business, and you can tell how long your career journey has been when every name that is mentioned in a conversation is someone you have worked with at some point.  These individuals may have experience of the role, and experience of your organisation (and of your competitors) but with no ‘fresh blood’ entering the organisation, the likelihood for innovation or creative disruption is severely reduced.  Put simply, they get paid better and better for doing a job that they have done time and time again - why would they change how they operate?    Now this isn’t to criticise this approach - every person does their best in the system within which they need to operate, and for vast amounts of workers this is a system that seems to benefit them and - as importantly - minimises the likelihood of competition for those roles from people who lack the pre-requisite of experience.  But eventually, doing the same role over and over again impacts their ability to perform, to stay on top of new industry ideas and directions, to be motivated and to feel good about the contribution they are making.  Yes, they may be able to sit back and think about what they are earning, that they are able to do the job without really thinking that hard about it.  But at some point, and increasingly as they reach the latter part of their career, there is a tendency to look back not just at how much money or status you amassed but the difference you made to the companies you worked for and the impact you made on your family and those around you.  When I worked with senior leaders who had recently been made redundant, almost every one of them described how they wanted to use it as an opportunity to do something different, to walk a different path.  This may have been a gap year to go travelling, to start their own business, or even retrain.  Even those who wanted to go straight back into the same kind of role that they had held previously, expressed a desire to shake things up a little by moving industry, or even just the area of the organisation they worked for.    So you have the same people, moving around the same organisations, no doubt using the same techniques and strategies that have worked in the past.  Meanwhile, your competitors or more likely, the new companies emerging within your market, create ground breaking products and services that fully engage with the customers and, before you know it, your market share is reducing and the senior leaders are frantically trying to engage and inspire their incumbent (and dare I say it, too comfortable) people to work in a way they have never worked before to try to keep up.  You could argue that maybe the solution would be to retrain those with the experience, helping them understand how to do things differently.  But  what  you do is only half of the equation for true innovation -  how  you do it is far more important.  You can teach someone the principles of creative innovation, trying to inspire them into some blue sky thinking, but if they are not naturally inclined to view the world in that way (and if they have had a similar role for any number of years, I would suggest they are not big on doing things differently) then not only will the fresh thinking not happen but you are then setting them up to be in an uncomfortable position of uncertainty.  And when people feel uncertain they instinctively reach for certainty by doing what they have done before, and any true new thinking is forgotten in “let’s just do it how we’ve always done it”.  Knowledge of the role, business or profession is always critically important, but not so much more important that everything else should be ignored.  If you already have a lot of experience in your organisation, maybe the real value of a new hire would come from someone who wants to contribute in a different way and can help the rest of the team by giving new ideas and perspectives. Using CVs to identify people to work in an organisation creates the assumption that the only people of value are those who have already done the job before, and so all you start seeing are those individuals who managed to get that first lucky break into the industry and they have been able to get all future roles off that.  But once the carousel has done a full circle, and those people come back to you, albeit with the experience that comes from having more organisations listed on their career history, where is the mechanism and controls needed to know that you are getting fresh ideas and innovative thinking?  That they are using that experience and exposure to understand how to move the organisation to the next level?  The recruitment process in many organisations only looks for those who have done the role before, and this is evident from the keyword search done on the CV through to controlled interviews full of standardised questions.  This is further compounded if we are talking about competency based questions that begin “Tell me about time when you …”.  These are my personal nemesis; even though there is an opportunity here to talk about your approach and thought process, the vast majority of people will immediately answer the question by talking about when they came across that situation in a previous role, thus showing the interviewee that they know the topic but it is also a not so subtle nod towards “see, I’ve done this role before”.  And it works - the role is offered to the candidate who had the most ‘relevant experience’ which could mean that the ideal person to move your organisation forward is sidelined because their way of thinking couldn’t be immediately applied to a previous comparative role.  There has to be a shift in focus, a change in approach, that turns the current process on its head, and starts to look for the right person to add value to the company, who will bring a fresh approach and new perspective to how you work, and offer ways to keep your organisation relevant and at the top of the marketplace.  This is true in all industries, but is most critical in industries with significant disruptors coming in and taking market share - doing what you’ve done before makes no commercial sense against newer and more agile companies who are open to making up new rules and approaches to follow.  Commercial success no longer comes from continuing on with old methods of doing things.  We know this to be true of our products - any bank who is not able to offer online services to their customers would struggle to compete in today’s world.  And services like AirBnB are forcing the hotel industry to think more innovatively and creatively, to attract customers who now have other options.  None of this can happen if you don’t also shift your approach to your people, being open to bringing people in who challenge the status quo because they haven't worked in the role multiple times before.  Sometimes it is the obvious questions, the ones that people with experience stop asking, that launches a team or business into a more exciting and profitable future.     
 
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When I began working, I had managers who wanted to help steer me in the right direction with what I could reasonably expect out of my career. Some of the advice - well, it was not good.  Techniques on how to fire people without consequences were not something that I felt made me the ‘team player’ I wanted to be.  But some of the advice was really useful and I have always kept it in mind.  One particular piece of wisdom was given to me by multiple managers and it was this - be careful how you treat people on the way up, as you never know where they will be when you are on the way back down.   This is sensible advice, as it acknowledges that much of your success will not be due to your own actions but the reactions you trigger in other people.  In some organisations and certainly in some industries, this may not seem to be relevant - for them, success is built on the bodies of others, rather than them giving you willing support.  But this opens you up to the risk that you make a lot of enemies, with many people who would not only enjoy watching your downfall, but maybe even get actively involved in making it happen.

Meeting the same people at different stages of your career, for better or for worse, is very likely because of another significant factor - in most industries there is a stagnant workforce.  What do I mean by stagnant?  I mean those individuals who have done the full carousel, switching between organisations, getting their new job as a consequence of having their old job, getting maybe a little more money, or a grade promotion, an office, maybe even a PA for themselves.  By the time they come back to their original company (which they invariably do) they cost more and expect to be a lot more senior than they were initially.  We talk about industries being full of exactly the same people, just moving from business to business, and you can tell how long your career journey has been when every name that is mentioned in a conversation is someone you have worked with at some point.  These individuals may have experience of the role, and experience of your organisation (and of your competitors) but with no ‘fresh blood’ entering the organisation, the likelihood for innovation or creative disruption is severely reduced.  Put simply, they get paid better and better for doing a job that they have done time and time again - why would they change how they operate?  

Now this isn’t to criticise this approach - every person does their best in the system within which they need to operate, and for vast amounts of workers this is a system that seems to benefit them and - as importantly - minimises the likelihood of competition for those roles from people who lack the pre-requisite of experience.  But eventually, doing the same role over and over again impacts their ability to perform, to stay on top of new industry ideas and directions, to be motivated and to feel good about the contribution they are making.  Yes, they may be able to sit back and think about what they are earning, that they are able to do the job without really thinking that hard about it.  But at some point, and increasingly as they reach the latter part of their career, there is a tendency to look back not just at how much money or status you amassed but the difference you made to the companies you worked for and the impact you made on your family and those around you.  When I worked with senior leaders who had recently been made redundant, almost every one of them described how they wanted to use it as an opportunity to do something different, to walk a different path.  This may have been a gap year to go travelling, to start their own business, or even retrain.  Even those who wanted to go straight back into the same kind of role that they had held previously, expressed a desire to shake things up a little by moving industry, or even just the area of the organisation they worked for.  

So you have the same people, moving around the same organisations, no doubt using the same techniques and strategies that have worked in the past.  Meanwhile, your competitors or more likely, the new companies emerging within your market, create ground breaking products and services that fully engage with the customers and, before you know it, your market share is reducing and the senior leaders are frantically trying to engage and inspire their incumbent (and dare I say it, too comfortable) people to work in a way they have never worked before to try to keep up.

You could argue that maybe the solution would be to retrain those with the experience, helping them understand how to do things differently.  But what you do is only half of the equation for true innovation - how you do it is far more important.  You can teach someone the principles of creative innovation, trying to inspire them into some blue sky thinking, but if they are not naturally inclined to view the world in that way (and if they have had a similar role for any number of years, I would suggest they are not big on doing things differently) then not only will the fresh thinking not happen but you are then setting them up to be in an uncomfortable position of uncertainty.  And when people feel uncertain they instinctively reach for certainty by doing what they have done before, and any true new thinking is forgotten in “let’s just do it how we’ve always done it”.

Knowledge of the role, business or profession is always critically important, but not so much more important that everything else should be ignored.  If you already have a lot of experience in your organisation, maybe the real value of a new hire would come from someone who wants to contribute in a different way and can help the rest of the team by giving new ideas and perspectives. Using CVs to identify people to work in an organisation creates the assumption that the only people of value are those who have already done the job before, and so all you start seeing are those individuals who managed to get that first lucky break into the industry and they have been able to get all future roles off that.  But once the carousel has done a full circle, and those people come back to you, albeit with the experience that comes from having more organisations listed on their career history, where is the mechanism and controls needed to know that you are getting fresh ideas and innovative thinking?  That they are using that experience and exposure to understand how to move the organisation to the next level?  The recruitment process in many organisations only looks for those who have done the role before, and this is evident from the keyword search done on the CV through to controlled interviews full of standardised questions.  This is further compounded if we are talking about competency based questions that begin “Tell me about time when you …”.  These are my personal nemesis; even though there is an opportunity here to talk about your approach and thought process, the vast majority of people will immediately answer the question by talking about when they came across that situation in a previous role, thus showing the interviewee that they know the topic but it is also a not so subtle nod towards “see, I’ve done this role before”.  And it works - the role is offered to the candidate who had the most ‘relevant experience’ which could mean that the ideal person to move your organisation forward is sidelined because their way of thinking couldn’t be immediately applied to a previous comparative role.

There has to be a shift in focus, a change in approach, that turns the current process on its head, and starts to look for the right person to add value to the company, who will bring a fresh approach and new perspective to how you work, and offer ways to keep your organisation relevant and at the top of the marketplace.  This is true in all industries, but is most critical in industries with significant disruptors coming in and taking market share - doing what you’ve done before makes no commercial sense against newer and more agile companies who are open to making up new rules and approaches to follow.  Commercial success no longer comes from continuing on with old methods of doing things.  We know this to be true of our products - any bank who is not able to offer online services to their customers would struggle to compete in today’s world.  And services like AirBnB are forcing the hotel industry to think more innovatively and creatively, to attract customers who now have other options.  None of this can happen if you don’t also shift your approach to your people, being open to bringing people in who challenge the status quo because they haven't worked in the role multiple times before.  Sometimes it is the obvious questions, the ones that people with experience stop asking, that launches a team or business into a more exciting and profitable future.

      As I applied for my university degree, I had a problem.  Although my academic work was at the required level for the subjects that I wanted to study, I was struggling with my ‘Hobbies and Interests’ section.  I had spent so much of my time studying to make sure I got the grades that I didn’t have time to do anything other than lounge around in front of the TV, sometimes read a book or maybe go out to the cinema.  And I’ve read enough CVs of other people to know that this sums up a lot of our shared experiences: ‘Reading and going to the cinema’ appear on nearly all CVs that I have read!  I say nearly all because there is that  other  set of CVs, those who somehow also managed to do really exciting and adventurous hobbies – water-skiing, mountain climbing, ultra marathons, trekking the Inca Trail, swimming with dolphins.  AND they managed to get the grades.  How was I ever going to compete with that?!  The need to make your details on application forms and CVs stand out has never diminished, throughout my post-University career and beyond.  We tell school leavers and graduates that these show a depth of character, it reflects a broader representation of their personality – I tell them (along with many other recruiters and agents) that nobody even reads them.  For many of us this is a relief, as we don’t have to come up with exciting ways that we  don’t  spend our time; but think about anyone who took up those activities, who were encouraged to take up those activities, because “it would look good on your CV”.  I’m not saying its everyone, some do actually like skiing, mountain climbing or lacrosse, but I suspect there is a large proportion of people who have interests on their CV that they really hope the interviewer doesn’t spot and ask questions about.  In fact I know this – and I know many interviewers who deliberately look for the ‘awkward pause’ question – usually lurking in this section – that makes the interviewee squirm.  This section forms such a small part of your CV, why am I referencing it in an article called ‘The CV is Dead”?  Well, I happen to believe that the ONLY part of a CV that is useful for anyone is the part where you talk about what you do outside of work – the rest of the information  looks  important until you actually pick under the skin of it and you realise that it has no relevance, no importance and no indicator of how well you will perform in a role.  Why Do We Use CVs?  The CV was born as a consequence of the Industrial Revolution, the point in history where manual jobs were taken over by huge machines with even bigger engines to run them.  The production line mentality of the factory translated over into all manual and non-manual work, with the concept of having a machine that ran with a particular set of cogs (roles) that were shaped in a particular way.  If a cog broke (or resigned), you simply tried to locate another one that looked and performed exactly the same – maybe if you were feeling ‘innovative’ you would select someone who had slightly ‘more’ experience, or even better, had been that cog at one of your competitors, and they could tell you how they had run their machine.  Now engineering and technology has moved on – we now have tiny machines running huge production lines, and robots taking over the roles that many humans once did.  Yet our concept of how to hire for the humans we  do  still need hasn’t updated along with it.  We still look for the cog that fits.  We use the CV as our way of assessing whether they can do the same job they did for someone else, but do it for us in the way our particular machine works.    This has left us with a few issues:       Skills Gap    In 2011, the UKCES (UK Commission For Employment and Skills) found that 38% of ‘hard to fill’ vacancies were  due to lack of candidates with the required skills , and year on year this problem has been growing (by 2015 it was reported to be 69% of the ‘hard to fill’ vacancies).  And last year it was stated by the LGA (Local Government Association) that Brexit could exacerbate this issue by as much as £90bn in our economy.  It is a known problem – part of the LGA’s frustration is that there are too many different initiatives to help people learn the skills that are needed that it is now “ confusing, fragmented, untargeted and ineffective ”.  I suggest we are looking at the problem in the wrong way.  Instead of focussing on the skills that you can add to a CV (that will then get ignored by employers who are looking for  experience  as well as skills), put the focus on teaching people  how  to learn new skills,  how  to adapt their learning to keep up with changes in the world and in business.  It is  guaranteed  now that any knowledge-based skills that you have are out of date almost immediately, given the rate of change we go through as the world becomes more and more online.   When I was a trade floor support engineer, I had to be able to support hundreds of different software applications, both in-house (written by the organisation) and third party software such as Microsoft Word or Powerpoint.  If I had to list every piece of software I have ever supported and all of the different versions I’ve supported, the CV would just be a long list of applications – and if you look at the CVs of a lot of support engineers, that is what they all do.  But, the reason I was good at my job was my most under-represented skill on my CV – that of  troubleshooting .  I knew roughly how all applications worked, because the defaults of many applications are essentially the same (there is a menu, there is a settings option, you can make changes via an edit function etc.) so my real skill was in deciphering what I could from what I was given.  Then as a hiring manager into those teams, I didn’t want someone who knew the last three versions of Microsoft Outlook – I wanted someone who I could put in front of a customer and who could fix their problem right there and then, without thinking that because it was a different version, they didn’t know it.  These holistic skills –  troubleshooting, customer service, rapport building, analysis  – are incredibly difficult to put on a CV in a way that truly reflects how proficient you are at them.  The nearest thing we have is the “Key Achievements” section that lists out all of what we achieved using those skills – but the emphasis remains on what you  did  rather than  how  you did it.  Ask many recruitment agents and they will say that, based on the job descriptions given out by organisations, their ‘keyword search’ is based on  skills not aptitudes.    The skills gap is not going to be filled by focussing on how we have done the jobs in the past, we need to focus on how we help people do the jobs of the future, and that is not going to come from looking at a CV to tell you the best person to hire.       New Employees   A study by Ernst & Young in 2016 (pre-referendum) states the following (Mark Gregory):   "Youth unemployment rates have fallen from the peaks we saw during the recession, when 40% of the UK’s 16-17 year olds were facing unemployment. However,  a stubbornly high number of young people remain excluded from the labour market,  which could be further exacerbated by a period of weaker economic growth in these uncertain times ahead. History has shown us that young people are more exposed to economic volatility and industry restructuring than the population as a whole."    "The skills agenda is fast becoming one of the biggest priorities for UK business, with Brexit also likely to impose some restrictions to the free movement of labour in the future. It has never been more important to ensure the UK has the right mix of skills and talent, both nationally and locally, and  young people are core  to this."   The reliance on the CV to tell us what we need to know about someone is impacting our ability to get new people into work – you can’t get a job for a role that you haven’t done before (and no amount of mountain climbing and abseiling can get over that).  We tell young people to strive for academic excellence, get a broad range of experience with travelling or sports – then assess their ability to do a job based on work that they have never done before and the experience that they do have is dismissed or seen as irrelevant.  Our young people have grown up in a world of growing technology, and are far more comfortable with the concept of a changing world than we ever were.  We do them a great disservice to give them a set of aspirations that then we immediately dismiss as they try to enter the world of employment.  It is impacting our ability to grow our economy, and our ability to help our younger generations identify and enhance their potential.   The system of CVs is not set up to find the next big Thing – just the old Thing repackaged again and again.   Taking business into the future is not going to happen by doing what we did before, but by approaching business in new and truly innovative ways.  And while we are concerned with making what we have already work better or faster (Henry Ford famously said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”), it is the up and coming generations who are freed from the shackles of ‘status quo’ to think of new and disruptive ways of achieving greater growth and profitability.  It is no coincidence that all of the major disruptors in industry – Google, Amazon, Facebook and Virgin in its infancy – are all concepts of younger people, who – precisely because they haven’t been involved with it before – can think more freely and more optimistically about what can be achieved.  We talk about wanting to find the future leaders, the future talent, the future game hangers, yet the recruitment process based on CVs does not help us achieve any of that.      Gender and Diversity Gaps   Currently all initiatives created to increase a more diverse representation of society within organisations, are trying to fit within this broken system of hiring via CV.  As with young people trying to get their first role,  many groups are excluded not because of their diversity but because of the ‘rule’ that says you have to have done the job to do the job again.   The only way for these groups to get better opportunities is for someone to disregard the CV and lack of experience and ‘take a chance’ on them – I’m not entirely sure that having someone tell you they are taking a risk taking you on would be very motivational, unless you hope to prove all of the nay-sayers wrong.    We need to get away from having targets to hit for increasing representation, and focus instead on what qualities we need from people – regardless of past experience – that could help them take the organisation to the next level.   Even if we were able to say that overnight, we have eradicated the gender gap, that we have solved the diversity issue – we would still have the same problem of how do you get experience for a job you haven’t done before?   That is the real issue – and it affects everyone in equal measure.   If you are looking for true equity in the treatment of employees – look to how we assess people based on their CVs.  Experience is more than a list of achievements.  So am I saying that your experience doesn’t count for anything – far, far from it.  We all hate creating CVs because we know that it is the worst way of trying to convey who we are and what we can do – its why CV writing businesses are always so busy – we assume they have the secret formula for making you sound more interesting.   Your experience is far more than a list of activities – what about the times you stayed late in the office to help get a project over the line?  When a massive outage destroyed a database, and you and others gave up your weekend to re-key in all of it?  The countless conversations you have had with colleagues talking through problems in their work and helping them to make the call or have that difficult conversation?   This is the true experience of work – how we work with others and how we – as a team – succeed.    It doesn't help with Career Progression either.  Senior leaders identify those for promotion not based on the activities they do, but the attitude and tenacity with which they do their job. And by job, I am talking about not just the day to day to do list, but their approach to building networks, making connections, building relationships with key stakeholders – all of those aspects that senior leaders will look at for those who they feel are ready to make a jump up.  I’ve never heard of someone being put forward for a promotion within their organisation and the manager basing their decision on their CV (HR will always require the manager to bring in a CV because it is part of the process – but realistically, the decision is made on the assessment from the manager and any other interviewers – the CV is just part of the paper trail).  The paper / online CV is a stale representation of what you can achieve as soon as you get into the workplace which is why they get out of date so quickly, and why they are so painful to update as and when you need to.  So if we don’t promote or grow our employees based on a constant assessment of their CV aptitudes, why do we hire on the basis of them?  I would argue it is because we still see the ‘machine’ of an organisation and because of that we can’t imagine what business could look like without it –   we are looking for the faster horses.    So if we don't use CVs, what then?  If we agree that the CV is no longer a suitable method of selecting people for roles, that it endorses a lack of diversity within our organisations and that it has no ties in with talent management once in the organisation, what is the alternative?  It is a fundamental shift in culture and thinking away from a process-driven recruitment process to a more holistic approach.  This approach will not fit in neatly to the machine – it’s not a bolt-on that allows you carry on as before but with recruitment 2.0 – and it is a change that will impact not just recruitment but performance and talent management, project management, how people get managed by their line manager – everything.   But, it will encourage  personal accountability, higher levels of employee engagement, improved loyalty and commitment to the organisation  (as part of the enhanced psychological contract between employer and employee) and will help organisations identify the people who they need to take their organisation into the next decade and beyond – not based on what they have done before but what they can  envision for the future and the energy and vitality they are prepared to use to make it happen .  Maybe that’s where the mountain climbing will come in useful.     
 
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As I applied for my university degree, I had a problem.  Although my academic work was at the required level for the subjects that I wanted to study, I was struggling with my ‘Hobbies and Interests’ section.  I had spent so much of my time studying to make sure I got the grades that I didn’t have time to do anything other than lounge around in front of the TV, sometimes read a book or maybe go out to the cinema.  And I’ve read enough CVs of other people to know that this sums up a lot of our shared experiences: ‘Reading and going to the cinema’ appear on nearly all CVs that I have read!  I say nearly all because there is that other set of CVs, those who somehow also managed to do really exciting and adventurous hobbies – water-skiing, mountain climbing, ultra marathons, trekking the Inca Trail, swimming with dolphins.  AND they managed to get the grades.  How was I ever going to compete with that?!

The need to make your details on application forms and CVs stand out has never diminished, throughout my post-University career and beyond.  We tell school leavers and graduates that these show a depth of character, it reflects a broader representation of their personality – I tell them (along with many other recruiters and agents) that nobody even reads them.  For many of us this is a relief, as we don’t have to come up with exciting ways that we don’t spend our time; but think about anyone who took up those activities, who were encouraged to take up those activities, because “it would look good on your CV”.  I’m not saying its everyone, some do actually like skiing, mountain climbing or lacrosse, but I suspect there is a large proportion of people who have interests on their CV that they really hope the interviewer doesn’t spot and ask questions about.  In fact I know this – and I know many interviewers who deliberately look for the ‘awkward pause’ question – usually lurking in this section – that makes the interviewee squirm.

This section forms such a small part of your CV, why am I referencing it in an article called ‘The CV is Dead”?  Well, I happen to believe that the ONLY part of a CV that is useful for anyone is the part where you talk about what you do outside of work – the rest of the information looks important until you actually pick under the skin of it and you realise that it has no relevance, no importance and no indicator of how well you will perform in a role.

Why Do We Use CVs?

The CV was born as a consequence of the Industrial Revolution, the point in history where manual jobs were taken over by huge machines with even bigger engines to run them.  The production line mentality of the factory translated over into all manual and non-manual work, with the concept of having a machine that ran with a particular set of cogs (roles) that were shaped in a particular way.  If a cog broke (or resigned), you simply tried to locate another one that looked and performed exactly the same – maybe if you were feeling ‘innovative’ you would select someone who had slightly ‘more’ experience, or even better, had been that cog at one of your competitors, and they could tell you how they had run their machine.

Now engineering and technology has moved on – we now have tiny machines running huge production lines, and robots taking over the roles that many humans once did.  Yet our concept of how to hire for the humans we do still need hasn’t updated along with it.  We still look for the cog that fits.  We use the CV as our way of assessing whether they can do the same job they did for someone else, but do it for us in the way our particular machine works. 

This has left us with a few issues:

 

Skills Gap

In 2011, the UKCES (UK Commission For Employment and Skills) found that 38% of ‘hard to fill’ vacancies were due to lack of candidates with the required skills, and year on year this problem has been growing (by 2015 it was reported to be 69% of the ‘hard to fill’ vacancies).  And last year it was stated by the LGA (Local Government Association) that Brexit could exacerbate this issue by as much as £90bn in our economy.  It is a known problem – part of the LGA’s frustration is that there are too many different initiatives to help people learn the skills that are needed that it is now “confusing, fragmented, untargeted and ineffective”.

I suggest we are looking at the problem in the wrong way.  Instead of focussing on the skills that you can add to a CV (that will then get ignored by employers who are looking for experience as well as skills), put the focus on teaching people how to learn new skills, how to adapt their learning to keep up with changes in the world and in business.  It is guaranteed now that any knowledge-based skills that you have are out of date almost immediately, given the rate of change we go through as the world becomes more and more online.   When I was a trade floor support engineer, I had to be able to support hundreds of different software applications, both in-house (written by the organisation) and third party software such as Microsoft Word or Powerpoint.  If I had to list every piece of software I have ever supported and all of the different versions I’ve supported, the CV would just be a long list of applications – and if you look at the CVs of a lot of support engineers, that is what they all do.  But, the reason I was good at my job was my most under-represented skill on my CV – that of troubleshooting.  I knew roughly how all applications worked, because the defaults of many applications are essentially the same (there is a menu, there is a settings option, you can make changes via an edit function etc.) so my real skill was in deciphering what I could from what I was given.  Then as a hiring manager into those teams, I didn’t want someone who knew the last three versions of Microsoft Outlook – I wanted someone who I could put in front of a customer and who could fix their problem right there and then, without thinking that because it was a different version, they didn’t know it.

These holistic skills – troubleshooting, customer service, rapport building, analysis – are incredibly difficult to put on a CV in a way that truly reflects how proficient you are at them.  The nearest thing we have is the “Key Achievements” section that lists out all of what we achieved using those skills – but the emphasis remains on what you did rather than how you did it.  Ask many recruitment agents and they will say that, based on the job descriptions given out by organisations, their ‘keyword search’ is based on skills not aptitudes.

The skills gap is not going to be filled by focussing on how we have done the jobs in the past, we need to focus on how we help people do the jobs of the future, and that is not going to come from looking at a CV to tell you the best person to hire.

 

New Employees

A study by Ernst & Young in 2016 (pre-referendum) states the following (Mark Gregory):

"Youth unemployment rates have fallen from the peaks we saw during the recession, when 40% of the UK’s 16-17 year olds were facing unemployment. However, a stubbornly high number of young people remain excluded from the labour market, which could be further exacerbated by a period of weaker economic growth in these uncertain times ahead. History has shown us that young people are more exposed to economic volatility and industry restructuring than the population as a whole."

"The skills agenda is fast becoming one of the biggest priorities for UK business, with Brexit also likely to impose some restrictions to the free movement of labour in the future. It has never been more important to ensure the UK has the right mix of skills and talent, both nationally and locally, and young people are core to this."

The reliance on the CV to tell us what we need to know about someone is impacting our ability to get new people into work – you can’t get a job for a role that you haven’t done before (and no amount of mountain climbing and abseiling can get over that).  We tell young people to strive for academic excellence, get a broad range of experience with travelling or sports – then assess their ability to do a job based on work that they have never done before and the experience that they do have is dismissed or seen as irrelevant.

Our young people have grown up in a world of growing technology, and are far more comfortable with the concept of a changing world than we ever were.  We do them a great disservice to give them a set of aspirations that then we immediately dismiss as they try to enter the world of employment.  It is impacting our ability to grow our economy, and our ability to help our younger generations identify and enhance their potential.  The system of CVs is not set up to find the next big Thing – just the old Thing repackaged again and again.

Taking business into the future is not going to happen by doing what we did before, but by approaching business in new and truly innovative ways.  And while we are concerned with making what we have already work better or faster (Henry Ford famously said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses”), it is the up and coming generations who are freed from the shackles of ‘status quo’ to think of new and disruptive ways of achieving greater growth and profitability.  It is no coincidence that all of the major disruptors in industry – Google, Amazon, Facebook and Virgin in its infancy – are all concepts of younger people, who – precisely because they haven’t been involved with it before – can think more freely and more optimistically about what can be achieved.  We talk about wanting to find the future leaders, the future talent, the future game hangers, yet the recruitment process based on CVs does not help us achieve any of that.

 

Gender and Diversity Gaps

Currently all initiatives created to increase a more diverse representation of society within organisations, are trying to fit within this broken system of hiring via CV.  As with young people trying to get their first role, many groups are excluded not because of their diversity but because of the ‘rule’ that says you have to have done the job to do the job again.  The only way for these groups to get better opportunities is for someone to disregard the CV and lack of experience and ‘take a chance’ on them – I’m not entirely sure that having someone tell you they are taking a risk taking you on would be very motivational, unless you hope to prove all of the nay-sayers wrong. 

We need to get away from having targets to hit for increasing representation, and focus instead on what qualities we need from people – regardless of past experience – that could help them take the organisation to the next level.

Even if we were able to say that overnight, we have eradicated the gender gap, that we have solved the diversity issue – we would still have the same problem of how do you get experience for a job you haven’t done before?  That is the real issue – and it affects everyone in equal measure.  If you are looking for true equity in the treatment of employees – look to how we assess people based on their CVs.

Experience is more than a list of achievements.

So am I saying that your experience doesn’t count for anything – far, far from it.  We all hate creating CVs because we know that it is the worst way of trying to convey who we are and what we can do – its why CV writing businesses are always so busy – we assume they have the secret formula for making you sound more interesting.   Your experience is far more than a list of activities – what about the times you stayed late in the office to help get a project over the line?  When a massive outage destroyed a database, and you and others gave up your weekend to re-key in all of it?  The countless conversations you have had with colleagues talking through problems in their work and helping them to make the call or have that difficult conversation?  This is the true experience of work – how we work with others and how we – as a team – succeed. 

It doesn't help with Career Progression either.

Senior leaders identify those for promotion not based on the activities they do, but the attitude and tenacity with which they do their job. And by job, I am talking about not just the day to day to do list, but their approach to building networks, making connections, building relationships with key stakeholders – all of those aspects that senior leaders will look at for those who they feel are ready to make a jump up.  I’ve never heard of someone being put forward for a promotion within their organisation and the manager basing their decision on their CV (HR will always require the manager to bring in a CV because it is part of the process – but realistically, the decision is made on the assessment from the manager and any other interviewers – the CV is just part of the paper trail).  The paper / online CV is a stale representation of what you can achieve as soon as you get into the workplace which is why they get out of date so quickly, and why they are so painful to update as and when you need to.

So if we don’t promote or grow our employees based on a constant assessment of their CV aptitudes, why do we hire on the basis of them?  I would argue it is because we still see the ‘machine’ of an organisation and because of that we can’t imagine what business could look like without it – we are looking for the faster horses.

So if we don't use CVs, what then?

If we agree that the CV is no longer a suitable method of selecting people for roles, that it endorses a lack of diversity within our organisations and that it has no ties in with talent management once in the organisation, what is the alternative?  It is a fundamental shift in culture and thinking away from a process-driven recruitment process to a more holistic approach.  This approach will not fit in neatly to the machine – it’s not a bolt-on that allows you carry on as before but with recruitment 2.0 – and it is a change that will impact not just recruitment but performance and talent management, project management, how people get managed by their line manager – everything. 

But, it will encourage personal accountability, higher levels of employee engagement, improved loyalty and commitment to the organisation (as part of the enhanced psychological contract between employer and employee) and will help organisations identify the people who they need to take their organisation into the next decade and beyond – not based on what they have done before but what they can envision for the future and the energy and vitality they are prepared to use to make it happen.  Maybe that’s where the mountain climbing will come in useful.