How to Review Modern CVs: Hiring Managers Beware
<span class="grey-callout">I was recently asked by Executive Grapevine to comment on the challenges of modern CVs in recruitment. Naturally they have to curate the content, so I felt I provide more information in this article.</span>
The Problem Modern CVs Present
Hiring managers would find reviewing CVs much easier if CVs followed a standardised format. If only we knew the information would be complete, presented chronologically, and hobbies were tucked at the back. Immediately employers could glance at the appropriate section, make a decision and move on.
Sadly, modern CVs now come in various designs, layouts and formats. This means we get distracted by different elements vying for our attention and have to painstakingly find the information we need. It's similar to opening a door: for years we've learnt to pull down on a handle, and then someone designs a handle we have to pull up on! It takes time to re-learn, and we question how it adds value to our lives
This problem is getting worse as more applicants use CV writing services whose advice is to "stand out" with a fancy template
Each new CV design also creates new challenges for HR technology to parse a CV into Human Resources XML (HR XML). Current software is slow to adapt because it is an open-source project, volunteer-led and run by a consortium. But this technology can be really helpful; it reduces duplication of effort, improves accuracy, and allows other clever technology to automate parts of the recruitment process.
So what should a hiring manager do when a modern CV is less readable to a human and technology? I'm confident the answer is not to demand applicants copy and paste their CV into a standard template on a company career site - this leads to a significant drop in applications
The Solution to Reviewing Modern CVs
The answer is a shift in mindset.
- Realise that CVs will never be an objective report. An applicant may think they were "great" by their standards, but not necessarily by yours.
- Look for the potential in applicants. Ask yourself the question, "Why should I interview this applicant?" Looking for the potential in applicants helps cut through all the noise and distractions of eye-catching designs and layouts.
- A great design is not a great reflection. Appreciate that modern CVs produced by CV writing services reflect the designer's ability more than the candidate's true potential. Similarly, an applicant could have just been made redundant after years of service with no current knowledge of how to write a CV.
By trying to find the potential in an application, you're more likely to shortlist the best candidates for an interview and less likely to be impressed by someone else's design skills.
More thorough advice about shortlisting applicants for interview is available.