CVs – not worth the paper they’re written on

According to a number of surveys between 63% and 70% of CVs contain lies. In 2016 HR Magazine concluded 26% lie about their academic background and exam results whereas 35% lied about employment history. 12% of people inflated their job title to help climb the career ladder. Taken as a whole it soon becomes an impossible task to determine what is fact and what is fiction and, of the fiction what really matters and what is an attempt at some ‘window dressing’.

One may be forgiven for thinking this applies in the main to those early on in their career and just trying to get off the lower rungs of the ladder. In fact surveys also reveal the checks on Executives are often less than those for graduate recruits. Accepted that does not mean they have a great propensity to lie but it does make it easier to get away with.

There is a fine line between earnest endeavours to promote oneself in the best possible light and distorting the truth for a better outcome. Some distortions are not just about what has been changed but what has been omitted. By tweaking a few dates here and there gaps in a career or roles can soon disappear.

Interviewing a prospective candidate may challenge some of the written statements in the CV but how much time and money is wasted for all only to find out not everything lines up as it should? The challenges set to a company’s hiring managers today means there is a greater challenge to see more people, make decisions quicker and get the right result sooner. With the contingent workforce growing significantly year on year the challenges on the hiring manager is only ever going to increase. To make matters worse prior to coming up with a shortlist the time spent to read a CV; by a hiring manager is typically less than one minute.

Further scrutiny cost money and time, and often does not happen as a result. Thus the argument is very much weighed in favour of the applicant. Attempts to redraw the CV have not caught on, though I really like attempts that people like Marissa Mayer (ex-CEO Yahoo) are trying to bring to the document:

So what’s the answer?

In fact the CV should be long consigned to the bin, regardless of whether it is correct or not. Yes we want to understand past employment history but not in the way it’s presented today.

Employing people based on a menu of self-proclaimed accomplishments does not give you the skills you need to solve the problem you have and to propel the employee, you their manager and the company itself to the next level. Attracting skills and talents rather than meeting good script writers is what is changing companies today.

Outsourcing the complex process of finding the right talent is the way forward. A focus on talents, attributes and cultural fit, not reading from a menu of past glories. Companies that do this not only reduce the workload for the hiring manager, they also get access to a wider pool of talent and have a much greater focus on the skills and future skills they need.

I really believe the CV is past its best and only through outsourcing the process will we find a solution.

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