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…At least that’s according to LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman who claims they are now a redundant part of the jobseeking and hiring process, thanks to the rapidly growing presence of his own site’s online profile versions.

And almost dead, but not quite yet, according to the omnipresent HR influencer / guru / thought-leader [circle as appropriate], Kevin Grossman.  But he wants them to die.  Why?  Because they are apparently “…a self-serving piece of inconsistently formatted and fudged professional drivel that really doesn’t help me hire true quality of fit.”

Even my recruitment CRM provider People Cloud, a great product nevertheless, are apparently bowing to customer demand to introduce one-click functionality that turns CVs into formatted, standardised, regimented templates that can troop off across cyberspace like a Dictator’s military parade stomping in perfect unity into the inboxes of clients across the land.

All this CV-hating has to stop.

I’m all for harnessing technology, embracing innovation, and adopting future trends, but some things just shouldn’t be messed with.  For me, the way a CV is presented, formatted, structured and delivered reveals a great deal more about the candidate’s personality and nature (and spelling ability) than a bland, characterless template.  Businesses who want to screen applicants by digital keyword searching are stupidly removing the most essential element in the art of recruitment – the human element.  Recruitment cannot, and never will, work as a science, and technology needs to be utilised to enhance the reach, speed and skill of the human rather than replace it entirely.

Of course, people lie on CVs.  And this leads to a waste of recruiters’ time.  But people lie on their Linked In profiles just as readily.  While standardised and templated CVs that are homogenised into a digitally readable pile and fed into a machine for keyword plucking are just as liable for deceit.  Just last week I was told the story of a jobseeker getting frustrated at never making it past the keyword screening part of the application process for a large New Zealand corporate, deciding instead to copy and paste the job advert into the area the CV should go and bingo, they moved through the system and received a call from the internal recruiter (who was admittedly rather unimpressed upon making the effort to read the “CV”).

But then maybe it’s just me.  I work in a niche sector, where character and personality are important factors in a candidate’s suitability.  I also work in a small market where I’m never likely to experience the volumes of applications some US or UK corporate recruiters might need to handle.  But for me, it is more important that CVs do something to catch my eye, force my hand towards that phone, to make that introductory call.  Way more important than turning everyone into a rigid and faceless accumulation of keywords in an effort to “trick” their way through an automated hiring process.

Stripping CVs of their individuality is a backward step for recruitment.  Potential forward steps, where a traditional CV’s personality can be blended with emerging multimedia channels, are very well-illustrated in this interesting article from Kyle Lagunas of Software Advice.

And amidst all of this debate we are forgetting one very important thing:  There’s nothing quite like having a good laugh in the office at some of the particularly weird, wonderful, outlandish-claiming and dodgy-photo sporting CVs that periodically cross our recruitment desks.  Even in rec-to-rec we see some classics from candidates who really should know better.

Long live the CV.

Jonathan Rice

Director of New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice & Co, co-founder of freelance recruiter platform JOYN, and people-centric technology firm superHUMAN Software. Recruitment innovator, agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.


  • Dan Salter says:

    “..the way a CV is presented, formatted, structured…” tells you about
    an applicants ability to use MS Word. If you are seriously wanting to know about
    their creative side or personality you can achieve this far more effectively by
    talking to them or examining their work, (Blogs, articles, or make a submission
    part of the application). Everything else, writing style etc would present
    itself in a linkedin profile.
    I agree with you that the “bland, characterless template” that results is
    unfortunate. However I believe the benefits of openess around the content of
    that linkedin profile reduces a persons willingness to fudge their
    history/experience, making it more reliable than the current CV.
    Embracing the new tech and finding other ways to gleen this personal
    character would be a better approach IMO. SnapHire’s “Soundbite” question is a
    great example of new tech put to very effective use.
    And yes I think the fax should lay down and die too. 

  • George Smith3636 says:

    I’ll happily use any format the clients request – we can bang on what is dead, what should die but ultimately if a paying clients wants cv’s bound and couriered – thats exactly what will happen 🙂

  • Paul Heath says:

    On the button again

  • I don’t think anyone who writes “…doesn’t help me hire true quality of fit.” gets to hassle other people about “professional drivel”.

  • Stewart Farr says:

    Good post, as for complaining the CV shouldn’t die……..I am still scratching my head as to why letters of reference died, they WERE honest, and could easily be checked. Where as a CV is so thick in “inserted here so I get the job” that its almost not what I have done, but what I can do.

    Nice to know my little ‘keyword’ story is doing the rounds. While I would like to say this has happened once, I would be lying. 
    In fact I have now started copying and pasting just ‘catch phrases’ and putting them in my CV/cover letters so that at least the recruiters will contact me. 

    Sad fact of the matter with dealing with recruitment in NZ is they very much judge a book by a cover. I often get asked “Why do you want to do marketing? Won’t you just leave to do engineering? I don’t see the reason?”………………………………seems a $35,000 MBA (in marketing and strategy) is not sufficient reason to leave engineering behind. (M.Engineering is only $6,000!). Or once again – they have not read my CV!

    When did HRM completely leave Recruitment! If you don’t want to be treated as used car salesmen………stop treating candidates as used cars………or in my case a engineering-only-digger!
    People can change jobs – let them change through you rather than around you.