Gurvinder Singh, of TechRank, discusses why CVs may no longer form an important part of the recruitment process
Around 70% of organisations say they struggle to find skilled candidates for their open positions. Is there simply a lack of skilled applicants out there, or is something wrong with the recruitment process itself?
To help improve the process, many job boards and recruitment agencies use automated keyword filtering to quickly narrow down relevant CVs. Those using a lot of industry keywords have around a 30% better chance of being hired. Yet this process is almost definitely filtering out some highly-suitable, yet keyword sparse, CVs. This is particularly problematic in tech recruitment.
Are CVs really a good measure of technical skills? In my experience, the answer is no.
People can, essentially, write whatever they want on their CV knowing that recruiters are unlikely to complete thorough checks. If experience or achievements are not entirely accurate, CVs become sales tools, favouring applicants competent at selling themselves – and using the right keywords – rather than those producing accurate and comparable summaries of skills.
Additionally, CVs are often judged based on interpretation and multiple biases, e.g. the quality of written English. If you’re hiring someone for a predominantly written role, written English is crucial; however, if you’re hiring for a more practical role, it’s far less important.
Even when the CV is written well, and lists suitable skills and experience, it’s still hard to assess actual skill levels. CVs don’t show, for example, if an applicant had a lot of support in their previous role, or whether they’ve allowed their technical skills to get rusty. It’s all drawn out by inference rather than verifiable data.
Current solutions to recruitment challenges
Aware of some of these issues, recruiters sometimes add practical interviews, or even practical challenges, for applicants to complete. These help to pin down applicants’ actual skill levels in the specific tech stack they will be working with.
Practical interviews are relatively resource-light to conduct, yet they still require an expert to design and deliver the interview, taking time away from working. Practical challenges are a more accurate test of skills but are also more expensive and time-consuming to design and run.
While these practical additions to the recruitment process help to accurately assess applicants’ skills, they still rely on the CVs sent on by recruitment agencies and, therefore, still suffer from automated filtering and agency bias.
Improving recruitment by ditching CVs
The recruitment process would be greatly improved if we could ditch the CV altogether and focus on accurately assessing the crucial technical skills. The ideal skills test would be conducted by a third-party, reducing the expense and in-house resource drain.
Besides assessing based on skills, rather than CVs, these challenges could also be run at the very top of the recruitment funnel, quickly and accurately filtering applicants down based on their skills. For employers who allow remote working, this could also help attract top talent from around the country.
Improving the process for applicants
Having a clear expectation of the requirements is also useful for candidates. No-one wants to spend time going for an interview only to find out that the job didn’t match their expectations – and no-one wants to feel out of their depth in a technical role.
Practical challenges right at the start of the application process make obvious what the job will entail and what skills are required, leading applicants to self-filter based on their skills.
The interview itself will be more useful if both employers and candidates know what tasks the job will involve. Rather than questions to assess skills, interviews can focus on assessing the candidate’s ‘fit’ with the company culture and their ‘soft skills’, already knowing that interviewees have the required blend of tech skills.
Application processes will be fairer for candidates, and easier for employers, when these new practical assessments are used. It is quite possible that CVs will become a thing of the past.