Will it be The Last Rites for the CV at #TruLondon?

‘He’s not pining, he’s passed on. This parrot is no more. He has ceased to be. He’s expired and gone to meet his maker. He’s a stiff, bereft of life, he rests in peace. If you hadn’t have nailed him to the perch he’d be pushing up the daisies. He’s rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. This is an ex-parrot!’
Monty Python Dead Parrot Sketch

‘Kiss me where the sun don’t shine
The past was yours but the future’s mine
You’re all out of time’
Stone Roses, She Bangs The Drums

At this week’s TruLondon5 I’ll be talking CVs with James Mayes and (I hope) a whole bunch of attendees in the track ‘The CV is Dead!’ If the CV was Monty Python’s parrot would it be pushing up daises, merely resting or stunned? Could the Stone Roses lyric be from an ‘online profile’ to a traditional CV?

This is one of those subjects that creates megabytes of content in cyberspace. Everyone has a view and many like their views to be controversial. I’m sure that the debate on Wednesday will be both lively and heated.

It’s actually a deeply complex topic as it has many facets:

  • How does a jobseeker want to be represented
  • What is the best way to showcase skills and capabilities
  • How does a recruiter want to receive applications
  • How do recruiters screen and select
  • Do recruiters/hiring managers have the time to devote to assessing in a different way
  • What information does a recruiter really need to make an informed decision
  • How much is invested in technology that requires the maintenance of the status quo

These are just a few; I’m sure readers will have many more to add.

I have to say that I don’t have a foot firmly in either camp, which is why I’m looking forward to hearing the range of views. I know from my work at Jobsite that there is an increasing appetite for CV databases, but what form may the ‘CV’ take in future?

To get the conversation started, here are a few thoughts and questions of my own and some gathered from recent blogs: Continue reading “Will it be The Last Rites for the CV at #TruLondon?”

Past Performance is Relative

A week into my social job hunt and I’m having some interesting conversations.

The online community has been awesome, giving me some great exposure and alerting me to opportunities. So far the lack of a physical CV has not hindered me, but I accept that it is early days. I won’t write too much about what is happening so far, except to say that my new style blog has attracted many views and some interest. The ‘Watch Me Being Interviewed’ page has been particularly useful for anyone interested in knowing more about me.

And one potentially very exciting opportunity has come, slightly from leftfield, yet certainly demanding of my attention!

Once the conversations start, inevitably we talk about my past roles, what I have achieved and where I have added value. That is no different to any interview in any sector I guess. Yet I have always wondered why the importance of the past?

Is previous experience the best indicator of future performance?

On this site, on the ‘Living CV’ that I have tried to create, I do talk about the past…but then I also want to give a strong indication of where I am at the moment and where I would want to go in future. And that may not always be directly relevant to where I’ve been.

These thoughts have been given added impetus over the weekend by the ‘removal’ of Roy Hodgson as manager of Liverpool FC. I’m sure that most jobseekers would have looked at this and thought…

They hire the best person they can find, supposedly the best fit for the job, and six months later he’s not capable of doing the job…

Roy Hodgson was hired on past performance. He was the Manager of the Year for last season and seemed a shoe-in for this particular role. Except he wasn’t, because…

Past Performance is Relative

The achievement that got him the Manager of the Year accolade was to take a small, unfashionable club, one that have never won a major trophy, and take them to their first European Final. A really good achievement…but is that the right platform to take on the redevelopment of one of the game’s most successful clubs ever, with numerous trophies and European titles, where there is an expectation of success?

Realistically no…but then many did think he was the best man for the job. They completely overlooked the different cultures, structures, expectations and standards of another workplace.

So when I talk to people about what I’ve done and what I’ve achieved, I also like to put them into context, and see how they would relate to the company that I’m talking to. And I also want to talk about where I’m at and where I want to go, how my skills may be able to complement the structures, processes, aims and goals of another business.

What are your experiences? Have you ever hired the wrong person based on past performance…or taken the wrong job because the goals and expectations didn’t suit your strengths?

Job Hunting in a Social World

As working life returns to normality after the long break, and a new calendar year is greeted with equal measures of hope, optimism and apprehension, I’m left to contemplate the realities of job hunting in 2011.

The social media community have been great. My post announcing that I was now actively seeking a new role was read and re-tweeted to such an extent that it registered my highest number of one day reads yet, and despite only being live for a couple of weeks it’s the third most read post of 2010.

I’ve had messages of support, offers of help and leads are being sent to me through LinkedIn and Twitter, for which I am very grateful.

But I’m also thinking…how has social media really changed the job hunt process??

Over the 2 years or so that I have been actively connecting with the wider HR/Recruitment community through social media channels I have read, debated, listened and thought long and hard about attracting talent, building talent pools, communicating the brand and creating a compelling employee proposition…and how social media enables this to be done. This is really about attraction and retention.

There are also new and emerging functionalities for job seekers enabling them to find out more about roles that they are applying for, and giving them different ways to approach the recruiter. But is this is a two way process?? My question is…

Who is actually acquiring talent socially?

Is anyone using social media for talent acquisition as a two way process?

You can tweet out a job, but can I tweet you an application?

I can ‘like’ your company profile, but would you ‘like’ my personal one?

How will the ATS process a different type of CV?

Ah yes…a CV. Every role that has so far been sent in my direction wants me to apply by sending through a CV. A few months ago I started a discussion on Twitter about whether recruiters would interview someone based on their social media footprint, without a physical CV. I then posted it on this blog

So for day one of job hunting in a social world I’m starting with a different kind of CV. This one.

You may have noticed a few additions to my blog. As well as my stream of thoughts and observations you can now…

Find out some more about me

Read my profile

Watch me being interviewed

Ask me interview questions

Read some other stuff I’ve written

Find out about some of my likes

It will evolve…it’s my Living CV. In particular the ‘Ask me Questions’ section will be updated continually…it’s there for anyone interested in knowing more about me, either potential interviewers or curious readers, to ask questions. Hopefully it will build into an ongoing interview page. What more does a potential employer want to see?

I don’t know how an ATS will process this.

I don’t know if someone would actually hire me with just this and face to face interviews to go on.

I don’t know if companies are really willing to hire for attitude and look at how you work not where you work.

But I’m going to start finding out.

I’ll be posting about my job search. I want to do it socially and I want to know who out there will hire socially.

For two years I’ve heard many talking the talk…I want to find out who’s actually walking it!

As always…let me know what you think….

3 Job Hunting Tips Inspired By Hollister!

I went shopping on Tuesday. Along with what seemed half of London I headed for one of Europe’s largest shopping centres.

Whilst walking around I couldn’t help but marvel at one store. It didn’t look like any of the other stores. There was a real buzz about it. Security people outside who seemed friendly, not authoritarian, chatting with a well organised queue of about 20 people waiting to get in the store. Of course, they were the lucky ones who would be entering the store in the next 20 minutes or so. Further back there was the rest of the queue, organised like you see at Disney, snaking around. I counted 150 and gave up…there were more than that!

What was the store that had 200 or more people queuing to look at some sale offers?


With a 16 year old son who has a couple of their shirts I know the power of the brand amongst a certain age group. But the queue was not exclusively limited to people of that age group….or the parental one either. Whilst other stores seemed almost desperate to get people to come in and look around, Hollister was making sure that they kept interested and engaged enough to wait.

So what do they have?

They have a compelling story. OK it’s not a real story, it’s a pseudohistory. But it hangs together, it’s well told, and it’s believable.

They are different. Their store stood out, it had an aura that other ones around it didn’t have. It almost dared you not to walk past but to come inside, and the fact that so many were willing to wait to go inside only added to the allure. (The only other store there that had a similar magnetic pull was Apple)

And on that afternoon they seemed to be treating people well. OK I know they (and their parent company) don’t necessarily have the best track record at treating everybody so respectfully, but there seemed no complaints from the waiting customers.

Now I realise that we are talking about part of a major global retail empire, with significant funds and influence to enable these things to happen, but looking beyond that there are some simple messages.

As we enter 2011 with many millions in the UK & US job hunting, including me, all of us need to find a way to stand out. So what inspiration can we draw from Hollister?

Have a compelling story – Know your background, what you have done and what you can do. You have a real story so tell it well. Bring it to life. Make companies want to talk to you.

Make yourself different – A story is only a part, a static CV can only say so much, we now have tools at our disposal to bring our stories to life. You are the only you.

Treat everyone as a potential hirer or the gateway to a potential hirer – Work the network. Talk to people. Meet them for coffee, lunch or whatever. They may not have a role for you, but they may be able to help you. They may know someone, or someone who knows someone.

As I walked on to find something to eat I thought ‘I want to be the Hollister of recruiting!’ – let’s all be the Hollisters of our specialist fields!

Happy New Year to all readers…and lots of luck in 2011 to everyone currently job hunting!


Hire for Attitude, Train for Skills

It’s not a new saying, but whenever it’s used now everyone instantly agrees, it should be a resourcing mantra, particularly in tougher times.

As recruiters we spend most of our time looking for people with a skillset, with a historical CV that ticks the boxes that clients want.

It’s changing.

Job description tick lists are no good, because you will rarely find the people who tick every box, and if you do there is no guarantee that they will succeed.

Past performance can be a very unreliable indicator of future achievement.

I was intrigued to read a blog from Katie McNab – Customers Aren’t Always Right.

Read it! Because she is UK Recruitment Manager for one of the largest FMCG brands on the planet. And she wants her team to challenge hiring managers, forget what may suit them and start looking at what the business needs.

My favourite part is:

A line manager with a team of 5-6 people might recruit once a year.  He or she will have a very short-term goal in mind.  They want someone to fill the “empty chair”. And while they don’t recruit very often, they usually still have some very firm views about what “good” looks like.

But we recruit all the time.  We live and breathe this stuff.   We know our markets, our industries and our legal obligations.  And that gives us the right and the responsibility to challenge line managers on their requirements.

How many 3rd party recruiters challenge a client? We also live and breathe this stuff, but how many of us push back and really help the client to be creative?

Very few I guess.

Are we too scared of losing the brief? Scared of missing a fee? Do we want to just fill empty chairs?

Have we lost the bottle to invest time in building credibility with the client by bringing some real INSIGHT to the process? Because that’s how long-term relationships are developed.

Ah yes, INSIGHT.

If you read my last blog you’ll know that the good people from LinkedIn said that the number one priority for a 3rd party recruiter focusing on maintaining some form of market position is Insight over Data.

I would grab this as an opportunity to forget searching for historical CVs and start looking for real talent, with real potential and real attitude.

Clients use us because we can give them an insight to the market, a window onto the world of potential talent that is available, either actively or passively.

So stop giving them what they can find themselves…and start finding people that they can’t.

Rarely a day goes by without talk of a skill shortage…and most recruiters nod compliantly and see this as an opportunity…but an opportunity for what?

If the skills aren’t there, then they aren’t there. So instead of acquiescing, and firing out dozens of headhunt calls, and placing numerous online job ads, just STOP!

Remember Katie’s hypothetical example?

Given the choice of a solid Brand Manager from a global competitor or the owner of a small start up who has managed to launch a fantastic product with limited resources, and really creative solutions… I think the managers would instinctively lean towards one option. And I think the business as a whole would lean in the other direction.

3rd party recruiters need to be able to offer the same approach, the same confidence…and the same INSIGHT.

Stop looking for skills and start looking for attitude…then let the best companies take care of the upskilling.

To CV or Not To CV

I posed a question on Twitter last week to in house recruiters and HR professionals:

In-House recruiters/HR Pros…would you interview someone purely from a LinkedIn profile or social media footprint? Without a physical CV?

Reason was that I had met a really strong candidate who had not yet prepared an up to date CV and I wanted a client to meet her straight away…I wondered if a LinkedIn profile and my notes and impressions would suffice.

My Twitter question started an interesting debate; here are some of the answers:

‘No, would definitely back up the Linked In profile with a physical CV’

‘Depends how comprehensive their profile was’

‘Possibly – think I would want to see their CV at some point, but would organise an interview on the back of their linked in profile’

Yes definitely, at least for first stage / informal conversation’

‘Not generally. Might speak, engage and arrange interview based on the Social Media footprint but likely to want CV before the interview’

‘I still prefer to see a “real” CV before setting up an interview’

‘A full Linked In profile is coming closer and closer to a classic CV. But I like it when a candidate shows interest by sending me something’

‘Depends on the strength of the profile. Always suspicious of some recommendations I see though

‘I would likely have a conversation with someone without a CV, but would still want a formal presentation before going further

Clearly there was belief that a physical CV is still important…but why??

I can understand some form of a CV being needed if there was no other way of establishing a candidate’s background, but I was intrigued that clientside recruiters would still want a CV even if there was information about the candidate publicly available through social media.

My immediate thoughts were…

–          Does the physical CV act as a kind of filter? It’s almost an excuse. It enables you to read and reject a candidate because ‘they don’t seem to have the right experience’. But previous experience isn’t always the best indicator of future performance. A physical, or ‘real’, CV tells you little about the candidate’s personality, motivators, passions, presence, capabilities or potential.

–          If the candidate has a full profile on Linked In then still this isn’t enough. There’s a picture, summary of skills and qualities, experience, career history, education and interests. Hopefully there will be some references too. And that’s not all…there will be groups of which they are a member, connections, links to other social media platforms they use. There will, in fact, be lots of things that may not be on a physical CV. Yet we still don’t seem to ‘trust’ it…even though it is probably harder to ‘mislead’ on a public platform than in a private document.

–          Even if we interview someone based on their social media ‘footprint’ we still want to see a physical CV before moving to the next stage. Somehow this legitimises their application, shows that they are taking the application seriously. But how about the effort they may put into creating and maintaining their LI profile, their blogs, their Twitter stream…this shows a different kind of commitment but one that may be even more important to their future success in a new role.

I’ve seen a lot written about the ‘death’ of the CV recently…both from those who agree and those who don’t.  Clearly most hirers expect to see some form of CV so it may be a bit early for the last rites.

Wherever you look there are coaches, tutors, consultants, gurus and experts offering advice to jobseekers on how to create, maintain and promote their online profiles to ensure maximum exposure. They are told to use the full range of platforms and tools at their disposal.

Yet even though they may be found, and found because they have the skills, knowledge and potential that a future employer may be looking for, they still need to present a CV which may actually be less impressive than the information that already exists about them.

So I’m asking again…would you interview, and consider hiring, someone who didn’t have a physical CV, but who had an active social media profile which told you more about them than a physical CV might??

Let me know what you think…

The Need for Speed

‘I feel the need…the need for speed’ (Tom Cruise, Top Gun 1986)

Whatever artistic merits ‘Top Gun’ may possess, there is little doubt that it remains an iconic 80s movie, with a number of quotable lines, not least the one above. With the ‘greed is good’ business decade well and truly in full swing by 1986 there was little doubt that speed was intoxicating. Everything needed to go faster, to happen quicker, from the time it took your car to accelerate to the length of wait for your burger, it had to be now, now, now!

I was a rookie recruiter in those days, placing qualified accountants in accounting firms, learning that success came from fully understanding the client brief and partnership culture, and growing a network of candidates and contacts that could give you access to a range of talent. Candidates usually came to you through your knowledge of the market, mainly referrals from people who you had helped/advised.

When a client briefed you they would always ask…

Do you know anyone who can do this? Or Can you find us someone who can do this?

Innocent, less complex times maybe, but in specialist permanent recruitment your clients tended to value your knowledge. They expected to wait for the most suitable person and wanted to brief someone who could go out and find them. If there was urgency, they were almost apologetic; as if giving us reduced timeframes would make our task harder. Now, now, now was not something that seemed to apply to crucial pieces of recruitment.

It’s all very different now, of course. Speed is king.

I recently conducted some spontaneous research, speaking to a few recruiters about their markets and what they felt they competed on most. Almost all of them said speed. Attend a recruitment industry get together and you will hear recruiters bemoan the rise of speed over quality.

I asked a few internal recruiters what was most important to them in a recruitment partner, and alongside ‘not wasting my time with irrelevant CVs’ and ‘really understanding what we want’ speed of response also rated highly.


No-one could really say, but like Maverick and Goose in Top Gun, speed was necessary, exhilarating, a sign of strength. It implied you were good.

Hiring managers used to ask ‘Who do you know?’ now they ask ‘Who have you got?’

There seems to be an expectation that we all ‘have’ a number of CVs ready to pull out at a few hours notice. Yet the role that is to be filled may be a key position that will have a large impact on the business. Getting it wrong may be costly and disruptive. Could businesses be failing to make the best hiring decisions through an artificial time restriction?

Many briefs now ask for CVs within 48 or 72 hours…a good recruiter won’t just fling CVs at a client, they will want to conduct a full search, speak to candidates, discuss the role with them, get their authority to submit the CV, candidates may want to think over the role, do some research on the company first…

…if that can’t be done within 48 or 72 hours then some very strong candidates may not get in front of a hiring manager, and those companies may well be ruling out the most suitable person for the role…

I am always interested to know why speed is considered so desirable in a piece of specialist permanent recruitment…if there is a sudden need, then surely the business should look for an interim solution whilst following a proper and thorough process to find the best permanent candidate…so

Third party recruiters…I’d love to know if speed is something you embrace, or if you find it a hindrance…

And internal recruiters…I’d love to know why ‘who have you got’ has replaced ‘who do you know’

Look forward to hearing your thoughts

They Shoot Recruiters, Don’t They?


This blog was originally posted on RecruitingBlogs – click here to see all the comments that were posted

Question for corporate recruiters and hiring managers…if a contingent hire goes wrong, which of these is likely to be at fault:

1)      The hiring and selection process?

2)      The onboarding and integration process?

3)      The recruiter who introduced the candidate?

Hands up who answered 3?

I ask this because I was told of a situation recently in which a client decided after 4 weeks that a candidate that had been hired was a bad fit and would have to be released. They asked the recruiter not just for a 100% fee refund but to cover the 4 weeks wages that they had paid too…their justification was ‘well you selected herto which the recruiter had replied ‘no, I presented her…you selected her

At what point, I wonder, does the 3rd part contingency recruiter cease to be responsible for the success of their introduction?

We present candidates who we believe are as close a match as possible to what the client has briefed us to find, yet after this presentation the clients’ processes, over which we have no control and very little input, take over…interview process, selection criteria, offer, pre-joining communication, induction and onboarding, integration…that’s a whole lot of actions where something can go wrong that may influence the new employees ability to fit straight into the role and culture.

And what happens if an employee thinks that the company has misrepresented itself, its culture, its talent development agenda, the scope of the role offered? All these are often cited as reasons that people fail to settle and become disenfranchised early in their employment.

Most recruiters offer a refund/rebate facility and yet many employers feel the need to negotiate these more favourably. Why? This leads to the recruiting process starting from a position of negativity, of risk minimisation, as if you are almost expecting the hire to be unsuccessful. I did have a client once who laid down their terms for a rebate…100% for a 2 month period if the candidate proved to be unsuitable, but if it was the candidate who left, for any reason, then the company expected no rebate as they felt it was their responsibility to represent their business and culture, and the role and expectations, and the recruiter could not influence this.

I’ve rarely found another client willing to share the responsibility, which will, in effect, recognise that the hiring company has a large role to play in whether or not their new member of staff succeeds. Too often when an employee leaves within the first few months it is the recruiter who made the introduction who is held to account, but is this just an easy option? Would the hiring process be any different if the recruiter offered no rebate/refund?

Maybe it’s hard to say ‘How come we couldn’t keep this person, we went through a long interview process, bought them in and got the approval of the team, went through our usual induction programme…where did we go wrong?’ and easier to say ‘where did we get that guy from? Find out what the rebate is and tell them if we get another dud candidate from them then they’re not a supplier anymore’.

I know I can’t speak for all recruiters. I know that there are too many who abdicate their responsibilities of careful matching and selection, of getting to really know their clients and being able to add value to the hiring process, who don’t properly reference and check…yet there are many who do all of these things, and present strong candidates in good faith that their clients have robust hiring and induction processes in place to maximise the success of their new hires.

So I return to my original question of who or what is at fault if your new hire is unsuccessful. How many companies have an inquest when this happens? Supposing it is a direct hire or a referral, what would usually be the reason? And why is this different if the employee was introduced through a 3rd party recruiter?

Do you feel that there are times when we’re justified in saying…

Don’t Shoot, I’m only the Recruiter

This Is Why You Should Hire Me! – Is Your CV a Sales Document?

This blog was originally posted on RecruitingBlogs – click to see the comments that were posted

No getting away from it, your CV is a sales document. Instead of typing the words ‘Curriculum Vitae’ or ‘CV’ at the top, put in ‘Why You Should Hire Me…’ and see how you write it. There’s little point just creating a list of duties or responsibilities; you will not get hired solely because of what you have done, but more because of what you have achieved within those duties and responsibilities, and how you can successfully build upon them and deliver in your next role.

Your whole CV should be your mission statement, your ‘This Is Me’ moment. It may be the door opener, getting you an interview, but when you get in front of a hiring decision maker you need a strong CV to present to. Written well, it can set the tone for an interview, manage expectations and enable you to play to your strengths.

When you write your CV, think about these 4 questions:

What are my biggest achievements?

Forget the CV format; just close your eyes and think of the 5 or 6 biggest achievements that have really meant something to you. They can be things that made a difference, or really stretched you out of your comfort zone, changed the way that the company did something, or required a lot of influencing. Whatever they are, they’ve got to be quantifiable achievements that will give whoever reads your CV an insight into how effectively you operate.

Where have I added value and made a real difference?

Too many CVs reflect a list of duties and responsibilities that look like they have been cut and pasted from a job description. You need to bring the CV to life, give it colour and substance, let anyone reading it know what you have done that really made a difference to your company. It doesn’t have to be a dramatic sea change, it can be something that simplified or enhanced a process that was already there.

What is most important to me about my job?

So many candidates list the ‘biggest’ duty under a job title. Invariably it will be something to do with managing people, or standing in for a senior colleague, or having taken a lead on a project, maybe around recruitment or talent. Whatever is listed first is quite often the thing that means most to you, the key achievement…you need to make sure that it’s relevant for the type of role that you want. There is little point listing management as your major responsibility or achievement if you aren’t looking to apply for a role involving management.

Why am I reading this?

Last question is not for the jobseeker, but for the person reading the CV. They’ve got a vacancy to fill and your CV has come to them, whether directly or through a third party. Why are they reading it? How does your CV fit with what they want? If they have to hunt for the clues and piece it together then chances are they’ll move on to the next one.

What do you think? What other questions should jobseekers ask themselves when they come to write their CVs?

Never Mind The Quality…Feel The Width

Although I believe it was created for a TV sitcom, the phrase ‘Never Mind The Quality…Feel The Width’ has long been used as an expression signifying quantity over quality.

It certainly neatly summarises many modern recruiters…but I wonder if they are entirely to blame?

Volume and speed seem to have taken over from matching and selection, from the ‘throw as many CVs their way and they’re bound to hire someone’ approach of many 3rd party recruiters to the ‘have you got any more CVs, I don’t think that we’ve seen enough’ procrastination of many internal recruiters/hiring managers.

To an extent, recruiters have largely helped to bring this on themselves for four main reasons:

1)      Not really understanding their market, nor taking a detailed, qualified brief, has led to a service model where sending a number of CVs and letting the client select who to interview is often now the norm

2)      Not properly sourcing for a specific role, but just posting an ad on a job board leads to numerous responses which lazy, or heavily sales targeted, recruiters can’t really be bothered to properly assess

3)       Recruiters’ KPIs in many agencies include numbers of CVs sent per vacancy or number of ‘send outs’ per candidate as metrics. Too many consultants look at a new vacancy as an opportunity to send out a number of CVs.

4)      In an attempt to seal an exclusive vacancy, recruiters are often encouraged to offer a number of CVs to a client as a way of closing off the need for that client to brief a competitor.

But don’t run away with the idea that this is necessarily all the fault of recruiters…

…how many times do you hear a client say ‘there must be someone else out there’ or I can’t believe that there aren’t more candidates looking at the moment’…

I spoke to an internal recruiter the other day regarding a difficult to fill senior contingency role and was told that the 2 key decision makers wanted to review a large number of CVs – 20 had been mentioned – to ensure that they had really covered the market. This for a role in which finding 3 relevant CVs in the current market would be a challenge. The role is seemingly an urgent one, yet they want to get it right I was told. Logic would seem to be that if they review a large number of CVs then they would feel more comfortable with the final decision…

Is it a chicken and egg situation? Do clients now expect to see a large number of CVs because their recruitment suppliers feel that sending a large number of CVs qualifies as good recruitment business? A way of showing your client that you speak to lots of candidates, have a wide network and therefore there is no need to contact a competitor?

Or do recruiters send over the volume of CVs that their clients ask for? Do corporate recruiters now expect to see a range of CVs as part of a hiring process? As a way of ensuring that they have thoroughly ‘searched’ the market?

Let me know what you think….