Killing the CV

Is it just me or does everyone hate writing a CV? There I’ve said it, I hate writing my CV, furthermore I hate reading them too. Okay hate is a strong word but ‘strongly dislike’ doesn’t quite cut it so I’m sticking with hate for now. Its not that the CV wasn’t a brilliant idea, after all Leonardo De Vinci wrote the first one in 1482 and who am I to argue with his intellect and unquestioned genius? However, I’m fairly certain that Leonardo himself would be quite disappointed with the ‘improvements’ made in the past 533 years or so.

There are those who believe the CV has changed ‘drastically’ over the past 500+ years and that it remains the single most critical component of the recruitment process. Well I’m sorry, I have to take issue with the evolution of the CV as it seems to me that not very much has changed at all. It’s still based around ‘the course of my life’ (literal translation of curriculum vitae) and the evolution that people talk about seems to be based on around how the CV is now delivered. Okay so Leonardo handed delivered his on a piece of parchment and now we can deliver CV’s via, fax, email, video and social media. All very clever of course but the basic structure of the CV in all of those forms remains the same; ‘the course of my life’ or somebody’s pitiful attempt to represent themselves on two sides of A4 or equivalent; and that is why I hate the CV, writing them, reading them, it doesn’t matter they are dull, dull, dull.

Looking for a new job or hiring the latest addition to your team should be an exciting process and yet the CV fails to deliver on all counts. It just doesn’t work. When I read a CV I want to see the person emerging from the page, the brilliance of their uniqueness that makes them who they are. But it never happens. What we are left with is a sterile version of what some CV specialist believes is the best way to write a CV – aaaaaarrrrrhhhhh! What a waste of time that is. I want the person.

I’m fairly confident that I’m not alone in thinking like this. We’ve all written a CV and how many of us can honestly claim that we are proud of it? I suspect not many. Of course our education, past achievements, interests, marital status and whether we have a full driving license are all very informative but dull, dull, dull. Again, where is the person?

When we finally get to meet that person for an interview, how many times is the best candidate on paper a disappointment in person? In fact, how many times has the least likely candidate (on paper) turned out to be the one with the best attitude and the one we like the most? Many business people a lot smarter than me have recognised this and most business bibles will talk about the importance of building your team. Whilst skills and abilities are at least as important as attitude in professional sport for example, this is not the case in business. Many skills can be acquired and attitude has a far greater weight, especially in smaller businesses where the impact of that person is more keenly felt.

Hire for attitude, train for skill.

Where is attitude in the CV? Where is the person? So if we accept that the
most important part of the recruitment process is not the CV but the person then why do we leave finding about what makes them tick until the end of the process? Because of the CV, that’s why. The CV does not give you the person, just a version of that person in a sanitised, 500 year old format.
So what’s the solution? Well for a start, we need to put more emphasis on the person. What they can do of course but equally who they are and even more importantly who they want to be. As an employer, I want every person we hire to have aspirations and ambitions, and feel as though at least some of those aspirations can be achieved when they come to work with us. I want to find out what type of person they are as early in the recruitment process as possible and I don’t think the CV does that very well.

So killing the CV is a great headline but I do genuinely mean it. It’s a way of creating stereotypes which is not a great way to find your next rising star. So lets kill it and make a change for the better. Sorry Leonardo but I’m confident you’d be on my side on this one – not that I could work that out from your CV of course.

Nick Garnett

Mumbu focuses on the most important factor – the individual. Putting people and business together in a simple, cost effective way. No CV’s, no middleman, just Mumbu.


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