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The End Of An Era: Why It’s Possible (And Recommended) To Hire Without Looking At A Single CV
The End Of An Era: Why It’s Possible (And Recommended) To Hire Without Looking At A Single CV

The End Of An Era: Why It’s Possible (And Recommended) To Hire Without Looking At A Single CV

By Federica Gianoglio, an enthusiast walks in nature and a speaker of 4 languages, HR Success Manager at Pearl Lemon

In 1482, Leonardo da Vinci created the first professional CV, and in the 1950s, it became a staple of the hiring process. For the past 70 years, the CV has always been among the most important things to consider when hiring for a new position.

But not anymore.

These days a lot of innovative, remote startups look at everything about a candidate EXCEPT their CV. This is exactly what we do at Pearl Lemon, a totally remote marketing agency whose team is spread across the world. As the HR Success Manager at Pearl Lemon who has been deeply involved in the hiring process at Pearl Lemon for more than 8 months, I crazily-enough have never checked a CV to hire our team members.

(Insane, I know – let me explain!)

There are so many alternative tools to assess potential employees and expose them for who they really are. But before getting into what these are, let’s take a look at why CVs are officially outdated.

It IS the end of an era!

Why a CV can complicate the recruitment process

Since CVs showcase potential candidates’ past experiences and skills, one might think that they can paint an accurate picture of the kind of employee they will be.

But the truth is, relying so heavily on CVs turns out to be misleading and, therefore, a waste of time.

One reason is that candidates are tempted to embellish their CV. According to HireRight’s 2017 employment screening benchmark report, 85% of employers caught applicants lying or misrepresenting themselves.

And even when candidates don’t lie, you cannot anticipate how well they will perform in the new company and if they can fit in with the new team by reading a few lines about their past experience.

CVs are also limited in space, so it can be hard for candidates to truly demonstrate their potential. Some job seekers may have the right qualities for a job position, but don’t know how to market themselves.

Standing out from the crowd when you only have one or two pages to fill in and a standardised structure to follow isn’t always easy. This can become a real disadvantage especially for talents whose experience derives from practical learning rather than from attending specific courses or universities.

Even if recruiters spend on average only 5-7 seconds to look at each CV, overall this becomes a time-consuming activity. Filtering irrelevant applications takes time away from more worthwhile candidates. This is especially true when recruiters decide to hire a candidate who ends up not meeting their expectations.

Another problem that can occur is when two CVs are so similar to each other that it’s hard to compare them and pick the most suitable candidate for the position applied.

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A study (carried out in 2021!) shows that when recruiters find themselves in front of the same information in a CV, decisions are made on conscious or unconscious bias which often leads to discrimination.

Names, gender, and ethnicity are some of the criteria that seem to increase or decrease the chances of being called back to continue the application process.

Some people even thought of changing their own name because it was clear that, no matter their education, coming from an ethnic minority prevented them from securing a job.

Women are discriminated against because they can potentially become pregnant which will lead to time off (maternity leave). Having a name that makes it hard to guess what the gender is leads to the same outcome and candidates may not be chosen for this reason.

Federica Gianoglio
Federica Gianoglio

The same happens when, for example, the graduation year is shown in the CV because this contributes to assumptions on someone’s age.

Skills and abilities should be what recruiters focus on and 5-7 seconds spent glancing at someone’s CV cannot be enough to get a true sense of a candidate’s value and potential because a lot of nuances are missed.

What is better than a CV?

The traditional hiring process pushes recruiters to check out CVs in the first place. But if CVs proved to be inadequate because of what they show (or don’t show), how can you really understand if someone is a good fit to move to the next step of the application process?

The answer is by going beyond a CV and trying to look at a candidate from different perspectives.

In today’s digitalised world, there are a lot of ways to learn more about a candidate before you even meet them. Here are examples of strategies that are already in place in some companies as part of their recruitment process.

The benefits of video interviews

An alternative to the CV, cover letter, or even the usual in person interview, is the video interview. Applicants are asked to reply to a list of questions or simply to introduce themselves without a set ladder.

The Lighthouse research in 2016 revealed that 50% of candidates surveyed prefer video interviews over other tools because they help them stand out from the crowd, besides having other benefits.

When recording a video, candidates can present themselves and their skills in a more natural way. In addition to describing past experiences, applicants can also mention how they felt about them and convey motivation and passion for what they are talking about.

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A video allows the use of tone and body language and it gives candidates more time to explore multiple aspects of their experiences. Moreover, by going into more detail, people show their general work attitude, which is important for all jobs, but especially for those in close contact with customers.

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For example, in the sales field, it is critical to see how a potential sales person carries a conversation. It is something that cannot be shown in a CV and that’s not to mention that someone’s skills may not be directly proportional to the years of experience in the position.

Among the points in favour of video interviews, there’s the opportunity to outsource human resources from anywhere in the world as well as to evaluate candidates asynchronously. As a result, neither the recruitment team nor the candidate have to attend a meeting at a set time and place at the early stages of the hiring process. This is particularly advantageous for remote teams who need to take into consideration several time zones.

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Using forms to standardise the candidate’s experience

To put all candidates on the same level, they would need to go through the same user experience. 

Forms are a way to ask applicants the same questions and requests, regardless of their past experience, and ensure everyone provides you with all the information you need. Recruiters will then be able to have uniform applications and comparison will be easier and more objective.

Questions can focus on details like the candidate’s contact information and time availability or they can be specific to the job position on offer and ask about the required skills.

This also becomes an occasion for the recruiters to better explain job functions, company policies and procedures. Every candidate receives the same information and, if they accept all conditions, it means they are willing and ready to proceed to the next steps.

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Tests and quizzes to reveal personality and potential

Besides wanting to know what a candidate did in the past, recruiters may well be curious about what applicants can potentially do in the future if hired.

A great way to assess specific abilities and skills is by creating a common scenario or challenge that employees may encounter. Candidates can then be tested by how well they perform in those specific conditions. The list of areas employers can learn about include (but are not limited to):

  • Problem solving, creative thinking
  • Organisation, prioritisation, time management
  • Communication
  • Leadership, collaboration
  • Decision-making
  • Stress management

These tests will also reveal how much knowledge and expertise job seekers have in the field they applied to.

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Templates and instructions for tests and quizzes can be found online. Employers should look for something that matches their culture and organisation so that applicants can also understand what to expect from a role in a company.

An alternative can be to give candidates test tasks during a trial period that is very similar to what they will do once hired.

How these hiring practices benefit your company

It’s important that your company tailors these strategies to your brand, values, features, and communication. If well thought-out and structured, the recruitment process can be an excellent way to establish who you are and where you want to position yourself on the market.

Personalising what you present to your candidates helps clarify what you and your company consider most important.

For instance, if your company provides new hires with detailed training to learn everything from scratch, your recruiters should test the candidates’ behavioural competencies rather than technical skills.

If you’re hiring for a sales position, you may prefer a video interview, while a social media manager can put their expertise into practice with a sample task to carry out.

Even the way you ask questions can set the tone of your organisation and convey a more formal or informal communication.

The type of tool and length of the process will be decisive. You might encourage more people to apply or stop others from wasting their time with a job and company that don’t match what they were looking for.

Engagement is, indeed, another fundamental aspect to consider. Lack of engagement dramatically decreases productivity and this can cost a company around $300 billion each year.

If an applicant goes all the way until the end of your hiring process, it shows how engaged they are with the possibility to join your company. On the contrary, if pre-hire assessments are not well built, they’re likely to push people away from your organisation. Investigations indicated that 47% of respondents didn’t like the test they were doing because it took them too long and 37% didn’t even understand the purpose of the activity.

All of these modern hiring practices ensure a better recruitment process. The quality of talent pools and hires improves, engagement is enhanced while the turnover rate decreases. The overall process is simpler, faster, and more objective.

No wonder modern recruiters have no time nor interest in looking at CVs!

About Author:

Federica Gianoglio is an enthusiast of walks in nature and a speaker of 4 languages. At Pearl Lemon, she is the HR Success Manager who contributed to increasing the team from 10 to 25 people in 6 months while developing ideas and company processes to ensure the successful management of an entirely remote team.



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