The future of job applications: Is the traditional CV broken?

With the current labour shortage that the UK is currently facing. It’s forced employers to consider how they attract and retain new talent. 

This got us thinking, is the traditional CV the best way of finding the best candidates for your roles?

Is there still a place for the traditional CV in the recruitment process?

We want to find a better way for recruiters to find the skilled workers they need and make job applications fairer and easier for candidates.

What challenges does the traditional CV present?

Currently, many recruitment agencies and companies are using ATS software which scans all the CVs and filters them based on keywords. If someone uses a lot of industry keywords on their CV they have a higher chance of being selected.

But, is this fair? 

This process only tells you what CVs have the specific keywords requested. 

ATS aside, does a CV really showcase a candidate's true potential? A CV is a sales tool, in which the candidate can essentially write whatever they’d like about themselves. And it doesn’t really showcase the real skills that the candidate has.

Even if it's written correctly and lists out the candidate's skills and experience. It’s still really hard to assess the actual skill levels. 

Not only does the potential candidate not get a chance to showcase their skills, but employers are missing out on hiring great talent.

What’s the answer to this?

Skill-based assessments!

Are skills-based assessments the future of CVs?

Currently, there are some companies that add skills-based assessments to the recruitment process. These are often scenario-based questions. This helps you understand as a recruiter how the candidate would actually perform those day-to-day tasks. Showcasing the candidate's real skill level rather than just a statement on a piece of paper. 

Let’s take a look at Tesco’s application process to see how skill-based assessments are currently being used:


It's a step in the right direction, even though you still have to upload a CV in the first instance. Ideally, candidates would be selected based upon the assessment alone. As it would make for a smoother application process.

Tesco uses a mix of scenario-based questions and practical skills. As well as ‘soft skills' like empathy, communication and problem-solving. Technical skills can often be taught but skills like intuition are something you either have or you don't. 

Assessments are great as there is no bias based on experience or background, it shows you clearly how well the candidate would perform the real day-to-day tasks. 

Currently, the CV plays a part in this recruitment process. But what if we removed that until the final stage... or completely.

Don't look at the CV until the final stage, or at all? 

If we ditch the CV in favour of skills assessments in the beginning stages of the application process, we’d be focusing on the things that matter. The skills! 

You get a real understanding of who this person is, and the benefits they can bring to your company. Without focusing on things like career gaps, job changes and lack of experience. This helps widen your pool of talented individuals. 

One company that has done this is Koro Kids. They were fed up with the traditional CV and application process. So they tried something different.

During the application process, the candidate is sent a number of screening questions. The questions are then sent to the recruiter. They cannot see names, just the answers and they blind mark the answers. The top answers are the ones that are bought through to the final stage, the Interview.

It's only at the interview stage, that the recruiter gets to see their CV.

Which worked so well that they decided to keep it. 

Koru Kids say the best candidates are usually not the ones you’d expect. And has led to better productivity and retention. 

Is the future CV-less?

Do we even need a CV in this process at all? Thinking about the candidate experience during your recruiting process, is uploading a CV and taking a task a long-winded experience?

By focusing on the skill sets alone, and then offering an interview based on those skills, you're bringing in the best people for that job.

Eventually, we may find that the CV becomes obsolete in this process.

How do you build a screening assessment?

We know not every company has a big budget for building an online screening system. But here are a few options:

Use an online tool 

There are plenty of tools out there to help you with this. If you’re looking for a free option, Google Forms makes it very simple. You can choose how they answer the questions, from multiple choice to text answers. 

Survey Monkey has templates already built-in and is super easy to use. There is a free plan, but you can upgrade to a paid plan for more entries. 

There are so many online options for capturing skill sets during the application process, you just need to work out which one is right for your business. 

Update your cover letter process

For too long, recruiters have been sent standard cover letter templates. You could get to know the candidate better by asking them to send you a cover letter stating:

  • Why do you want to work for (company?)

  • What skills would you bring to (role)

How does this improve the process for applicants?

By having these skills assessments at the beginning of the application process, candidates are better informed about their role from the beginning. There’s nothing worse than going for an interview and realising that it doesn’t match expectations. Or on the flip side, that they would be out of their depth. 

By doing these challenges at the very beginning of the application process your candidates can see exactly what the job entails.

Meaning when it gets to the interview stage, you already know they have the skillset. Leaving you to focus on company culture fit etc. 

So, is the CV dead? 

Not yet, but it's broken. 

You will always need some way of showcasing your work history etc. Companies are getting smarter in the ways of hiring and they understand that the best workers, don’t always have the best CVs. 

In order to get the best people for your business, there needs to be more of a showcase of practical skills and soft skills from the very beginning. 

Many companies are re-focusing on soft skills and passion for the business and upskilling on the job. In these cases, it doesn’t really matter where you worked before and for how long. It’s about who you are as a person and how you’d fit into the business. 

As we move into the future of recruitment, we are going to see more and more companies, providing skills assessment tasks during the application process.

But will that replace the traditional CV? Right now, the CV is sticking around, but the future is CV-less.

Watch this space. Click here to claim your Breakroom profile. We help you reach quality candidates by helping them learn what your jobs are really like from the start.

Published on 22 April 2022