CV-challenges in regards to Candidate Selection

Some things have always remained no matter the degree of innovation. But even the most fundamental things are being questioned now at the prime of the digital age. Such as the CV as a recruitment corner stone. Many experts argue it is simply not a document which is valid, objective or relevant enough to continue being the decider of whom to recruit.

1) Past success doesn’t guarantee future success.

Achievements are mainly culture- and value driven. Therefore someone who was a rockstar at one place could be less successful in another environment. Many experts argue that the entire use of a CV is based on “looking back” and then believing a candidate is going to bring all of their achievements into the new workplace. Sometimes that happens and sometimes it doesn’t. We all know that. We’ve all been surprised of how some recruits with brilliant profiles on paper fail to deliver or come to their right in a new job.

Many factors affect the outcome of and difference from a good and bad recruitment. Let’s not deep dive on that this time. Instead let us just agree that there is so much more than competence and experience when we see who succeed and fail.

Most often drive, attitude, desire for success and strengths of internal relations have higher impact on employee performance than experience and degree. When separating high achievers from the rest in an organization it is those very things which make them stand out.

“The trick is therefore to hire the people who have the right attitude, drive and desire for success?”

Well yes. But to understand the deeper meaning of the meaning of that; it is about identifying the people you believe to have the best conditions to become and remain those ideal employees. Because drive, attitude, motivation, inspiration and desire for success are not constant. They are ever-changing and in strong correlation with someones feeling of belonging, acceptance and their embrace of corporate values and culture. Therefore it is not as simple to identify someone with “drive” and then you’re set. You have to identify those with a strong culture fit.

2) The CV – A good sales pitch at best.

A) The Market Inflation spurred by “Want to look good”-behavior.

Let´s not fool ourselves here. Candidates want the jobs they apply for. A CV always was and still is the entry for getting the interview. It is a sales document written by the applicant. It is not an objective study of someones qualifications. And the lack of objectivity has only gotten worse along with the talent market becoming more transparent.

It used to be a document where the applicant made a reflection of his own experience, skills and other attributes and how that is a good match for a certain vacancy. With the entry of social media it has evolved into more than so. It has become a reflection of what is ‘needed’ on a profile for looking better than competition. Earlier a candidate was fixated on how to make himself look good in general. Now his perspective goes beyond reflecting upon himself onto reflecting upon others.

As social media entered the scene more than the format changed. The applicants ability to constantly view his industry peers and learning of expectations from employers grew. The market is transparent and candidates can make themselves spot on for a vacancy.

“Is not helping candidates to make good applications a good thing?”

Yes it is. But it also creates challenges. When it comes to helping a candidate of how to express his strengths more accurately, the transparent market is helpful. However it also enables candidates to add things to his profile for attention reasons. When candidates become more aware of what they ‘should‘ or ‘must‘ have on their profiles to be considered an ideal candidate for a vacancy, inflation of profile information increases.

Also, while many employers state that finding people in general has gotten easier, they also claim that identifying the major differences of competence and profile among top applicants have become much more challenging. This also being a direct effect of the increased career market transparency. Candidates learn from each other and the differences are harder to spot before the interviews.

This behavior is also spurred on by the channels where we find talents; social media especially.

“In which way would Social Media spur a behavior among candidates which contributes to information inflation in their online profiles?”

The answer is easy: The business models.

Let’s not fool ourselves (again). These channels are making money on advertising. That is the main income stream. And how do you make money on advertising? By making advertising seen by relevant people. That’s how. In order to do this a behavior where people are online often is needed. Since users spend most time online in either the news feed, on their own profile or on other peoples profiles, behavioral triggers are planted which make people want to update their profile as much as possible. It is also seen as something which has “actualized” a profile and is even used as a sales pitch: “Did you know that we have XX no of users who updated their profile the last 3 months?” Actual profiles are good but the question is how, why and with what these profiles are updated.

At one stage LinkedIn even recommended possible keywords to use when updating your profile (Premium membership functionality) in order to be found more in recruiter searches. Naturally this was seen as highly valuable among candidates. Who would not want their profile found more? But let me ask you this: Does it make sense that you should add: “Passionate” and “Online Marketing Optimization” in your profile just because it makes you more visible?

Naturally a candidate will add what they think will increase their chances to land a job. But is it true? And if not, this will only add to the inflation of professional information and the difficulty for employers to identify their ideal future employees.

As said: It is a difference from becoming better to describe yourself more accurately and not miss out on important details of your professional profile which employers might be looking for and by adding details the market has in demand to “look good” and then make up a good story of why that is on your profile.

B) The Recruiter mindset and emotional decision making

As if the first trend with candidates wanting to “look good” wasn’t enough but also the mindset of the recruiter has severe impact. One great topic in the industry is about how to reduce the amount of emotional decisions made by the recruiter. In the future decisions needs to be made more based on data. There is a high risk people are deselected for the wrong reasons. Rational decision making would make competence stay in focus rather than irrational gut feeling.

Thank you for reading,

Daniel Sonesson