What if we didn’t use CVs?

By January 18, 2016CV Advice and Tips, News

The CV is the most widely used document we use when applying for new jobs.  It’s ultimately a fact-based approach, allowing you to highlight your past work experience, education and skills in 2-3 pages.  Of course, this style can make it very difficult to show off personality, creativity and your motivations for applying for a job. Many people struggle with writing a CV well, so what if we scrapped them completely?

It could completely change the way we recruit new staff and apply for new jobs. What would it mean for you?

What would it mean for jobseekers?

If you can’t upload a generic CV to the job boards, to be searched by recruiters and fired off in seconds to any vacancy you like the look of, then you’ll have to send off a bespoke application or personal statement for each position you want to apply for.  Unfortunately for the applicant, you’ll have to put more time and effort into each role: that probably means applying for fewer jobs but potentially there’ll be fewer competitors for each position too.

Having a longer statement to write as a one-off application stresses the importance of having good written communication skills, versus a single document that you can improve and edit over and over. Keeping a hiring manager interested in what you have to say for yourself will also put more importance on creativity, personality and your motivations for taking a job – things that the formal and traditional CV structure doesn’t allow much room for.  Of course, that won’t be of benefit to everyone!

Abandoning CVs would be great for young people with limited experience, those who have taken breaks from employment and those looking to make a change in their careers.  For those who have the ideal work history and background of course, you’ll have to put more effort in to get the same results.

What would it mean for businesses?

CVs are a summary – they’re a factual and sequential and that makes them easy for busy people to scan through them quickly – so abandoning that summarisation is could make the process of hiring far more time consuming (unless of course the change in format means fewer applicants for each position).

A less impersonal approach however will make it easier to match candidates for the company culture as their personalities will shine through more than via a CV.  Companies may also increase the use of testing and setting tasks within the interview process to ensure that candidates are up to the standard required.

One big fear businesses could have is that the non-standard format may make things less clear when it comes to avoiding discrimination (either consciously, or unconsciously). But it could help level the playing field for others, perhaps someone who has been out of work due to illness or disability.  Custom company portals for receiving applications may become more common in smaller businesses to help standardise some of their applications and make it easier to compare applications.

What would it mean for us as recruiters?

For recruiters, CVs are our bread and butter. The average time spent having an initial look at whether a CV is suitable or not is about 15 seconds, but screening CVs sent in and searching through those uploaded to job boards is a huge part of a recruiters’ day.  Of course, if job applications take longer to send, there might not be as many to look over anyway. Having bespoke applications for each position would make them harder to store in our database and search through to match previous applicants to new vacancies.

In fact, it could change the way recruiters work entirely.  Perhaps an applicant would apply exclusively to a specialist agency with their skills and experience, and the recruiter’s job is to match them to either specific vacancies, or to simply sell good applicants into roles with expanding clients.


So does a world without CVs appeal to you? Or do you think it’s simply the best system we’ve got available? Let us know what you think and you never whether things might changing in the future.  For now though, keep sending in those CVs.