C is for Change and V is for Very antiquated

As a business owner, I’m constantly involved in change. Being privy to change when it’s happening within the company and outside of it...

Posted by Rohan Shah, Recruitment Agency CEO, Thursday August 14 2014

Blog image_The history of the CV

As a business owner, I’m constantly involved in change. Being privy to change when it’s happening within the company and outside of it, establishing and implementing change, approving change and of course embracing change. When you think about the experience you have in the working world, how much change has happened and how frequently is it happening?

Ultimately, I’m a recruiter and when I think how much change has affected our industry, I can think of plenty, however, the first stages of the hiring process has not changed much from company to company since I can remember. One thing is for sure though, the other industries that I've had the pleasure of recruiting in are ever changing; Sales, Marketing, PR, Digital, Finance, IT…the list goes on.

When you think of your IT department and how you use IT within your company, it’s probably so different to 10, 15, 20 years ago. No doubt most will argue that this change has improved the output; streamlined processes, increased productivity and ultimately saved cost, time or increased revenue. The same goes for your finance department, marketing etc.

Why then, has the initial hiring process of today in most companies not changed at all? Let me give you an example. If you are a hiring manager reading this, I can almost guarantee that you look through a CV first (more often than not on paper, ok, maybe on a computer screen, but print it off and it’s exactly the same thing) and if the CV seems on the face of it to match what you are looking for, you will then choose to invite them in for an interview or maybe conduct a phone interview first to save a bit of time. The process of emailing a CV through to be considered for a position started back in 1994, today, for most companies, it’s exactly the same process. There has been no change. How long do you think this process of selecting candidates for interview based on their CV has existed? Well, the first ever CV as we know was created in 1482 by Leonardo Da Vinci, where he documented his skills and experience. In 1500 a travelling Lord in England documented an official letter with his skills and experience which he handed to acquaintances and titled it his “Resume”. In essence, this process has been going on for over 500 years.

Whilst I appreciate the format of a CV has dramatically changed over the 500 years along with the way in which they are distributed, the process in which most hiring managers choose to interview candidates has not. This is surprising considering the change in technology over the years is practically crying out for the change in the way hiring managers choose to interview candidates; and in my opinion, this would be change for the better. How much of a superstar can you tell a possible candidate really is from their CV? You might take a guess, but you wouldn't actually know until you saw them and asked them the questions that will allow you to determine this (whatever those questions might be…).

In the 1980’s, VHS portfolios were created, this is change in the format of a CV and actually allowed the hiring clients to see the people before inviting them in for interview – that’s one step closer to assessing if they are a superstar right? Sure, but you couldn't interact with them to really assess if they were the best, which you can’t from a CV either… but you could see how they presented, hear them communicate and even allow them the opportunity to speak about things that may not necessarily have been stated on their CV (in fear that their CV might have been viewed as too long).

Surely the VHS option at that point in time was the way forward – so why didn't it take off?

In my opinion, people want to take the easiest route, which is my polite way of saying that people are typically lazy or to the contrary maybe they are just too busy. That means that the candidate couldn't be bothered or was too busy (or both) to make the recording (if they could afford the relevant equipment, which is a whole other reason), pop the VHS in the post (again, if they could afford to send out multiple videos) and wait with baited breath to see if they had been successful…or not. Nope, it would be much easier to get the typewriter out, document their skills and pop a 100 CV’s in the post. On the other side of the fence, hiring managers were far too busy (or too lazy) to walk into their technology department (if they had one), ask to use the video recorder, pop in the VHS and watch what they were hoping to be a superstar turn into an unsuitable candidate…especially after they had probably received 10 that day, repeated that process 10 times only to see 10 unsuitable candidates in front of them with one of those acting the clown (there’s always one). Nope, stick to receiving the CV’s in the post, with a coffee and a doughnut at hand; read through it at their own desk for 5 minutes and then make a phone call to interview the candidate only to find that after speaking to them for 10 minutes they are just another one of those unsuitable individuals, but to be polite you give them half an hour of your time anyway, especially if it’s the clown that’s making you laugh.

In theory the hiring manager has spent a lot longer going down this route, but it seems easier – it’s all done from the desk. The easiest option for both candidate and client is why I believe the VHS CV died a death, if it hadn't, I think the way in which CV’s are viewed today would be a lot more exciting, streamlined and even results driven which would inevitably allow hiring managers to assess possible candidates better which would mean hiring more superstars for your business.

Today, there is absolutely no excuses. With the internet, you can view a profile online, you can view video’s online, you can even assess people and read assessment reports online (all, along with the CV of course) – in fact, I can go a step better, you can do all of this on your mobile phone. So why is the choice for majority of companies and hiring managers to invite a candidate in for interview still based on just receiving a CV, when there are so many other more intuitive, exciting and forward thinking ways of assessing possible candidates that will save you time and allow you to hire that superstar that you've been looking for but didn't, because you dismissed their CV based on the fact that they listed blogging as their main interest on their CV; or on a more serious note, because that superstar candidate didn't list a particular skill-set or experience on their CV that you are so desperately in need of.

Far too often we find that candidates are able to do wonderful things that are not even close to being on their CV in fear that it would make their CV appear too long and yet that extra bit of information could be the small difference which could mean massive change for both the candidate and the employer.

As one of our clients recently said after dismissing candidates based on their CVs : “It's actually the videos - which I didn't look at before - which has got me enthused about these three”

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