Hiring new employees should be an exciting opportunity, but it often comes with stress, hassle, and frustration. Part of this is the online application system. With different applications, resumes, cover letters, and curriculum vitae, sorting through potential employees can take much longer than it should.
Part of this issue can be traced to CVs - they range from sparse to unnecessarily bulky, don’t have a standard form, and can be turned in as a resume instead. Where do CVs come from, and why are they so confusing? Some recruiters have posited that hiring would be easier without them.
Here are some answers to those questions, as well as a brief history of the curriculum vitae. You might be surprised by its origins, how long the CV has been around, and what roles it has played in the past. We’ll also look to the future of the CV and what a recruiting world without the form might look like. First, let’s discuss CV history.
What Is a CV?
A curriculum vitae, commonly known as a CV, is a piece of hiring material used in tandem with a resume and job application. Curriculum vitae is Latin for “way of life” and usually describes a person’s academic and employment history. Unlike a resume, a CV can be more than a page and go in-depth on previous experiences.
Curriculum vitae are generally required in more academic-focused lines of work, applying for graduate school, or applying for study grants. They are typically 2-3 pages long but can be much longer for those with years of experience and multiple published works.
Although CVs aren’t as widely used as resumes, they still serve a place. In most American and European job hunts, a CV is required instead of or in addition to a resume. However, the two are not interchangeable; usually, only one is required.
CVs are more common in academic circles, as abstracts from published works, studies, and college papers can be included. There is a strict form for a traditional curriculum vitae, but as video CVs and YouTube CVs have become popular, the form has morphed to be more like a more extended version of a resume.
Curriculum vitae might be a confusing step to master, but once a hiring manager knows what to look for, it will help them weed through potential applicants and decide who to take to the next step in the interviewing process. Of course, it depends on the hiring process and the industry.
How Long Should a CV Be?
A curriculum vitae, unlike a resume, doesn’t have a specific length. However, it’s a delicate balance between a CV that looks too much like a resume and a CV that is too long. Usually, CVs are between two and four pages. These pages contain a history of a person’s academic and professional career.
A CV includes more details than any resume. Here are some of the sections that most CVs will have:
- Personal and contact information
- Academic history
- Employment history
- Skills, qualifications, and experience
- Awards, honors, and grants
- Certificates, licenses, and certificates
- Professional associations
- Volunteer work
- Personal interests and hobbies
With all of this information, a hiring employer can get a snapshot of an applicant’s skills, experience, and personal life. Although it’s not enough to understand a person completely, a properly written CV can convince an employer that a candidate is right for a job.
It’s not always easy to create a good CV, especially when multiple applicants seek the same job. Employers complain that CVs are too long and often contain the wrong information, while applicants worry that their papers are not detailed enough. Many people don’t know the difference between a CV and a resume.
What’s the Difference Between a CV and a Resume?
While many hiring managers and applicants assume that a CV and a resume are the same, there are subtle differences between the two. The main difference is in length - a resume is limited to a page for easy reading, while a CV can be longer. CVs are limited by experience instead of length.
When an employer requests a resume, they want a snapshot of the applicant’s education, work experience, and qualifications. Any more than a page, and most employers stop looking. Resumes were created to streamline the hiring process even further. However, a CV is exactly the opposite.
For a CV, a complete history of (relevant) experience and education is required. This might need more than a page, and CVs can be much longer. For an experienced appliance with years of experience, a CV might end up something similar to a personal portfolio. Both CVs and resumes are necessary for different jobs.
A Brief History of the CV
The history of the CV begins much earlier than you might think. The very first recorded CV was created and submitted by Leonardo DaVinci in the late 15th century. He submitted it to the Duke of Milan to apply to become a military engineer.
After Da Vinci turned in his application for a military engineer, the idea of telling potential employers qualifications caught on. By the middle ages, most people were bringing a medieval equivalent of a personal portfolio to potential jobs. These could include sketches and personal letters and often were the sizes of books.
Up until the widespread use of the printing press for newspapers, the idea of a curriculum vitae was about the same. Personal portfolios were widespread until newspapers popularized hiring ads and searches for employees. Suddenly, people needed a quick way to summarize their skills.
Thus, the modern CV was born. Ever since the 1930s and 1940s, job applicants have had the opportunity to submit a CV with job applications, resumes, cover letters, and more. A complete yet concise summary of an applicant’s history and experience was a way to streamline hiring processes.
As CV history stretches for almost one hundred years, the format has changed. The CV can take many forms from a simple list presented to a hiring agent to an online form. One of the more modern types of curriculum vitae is the video CV, an innovative way to guarantee a few minutes of a hiring agent’s time and make a CV more personal.
From its beginning until now, CVs have provided a potential employee’s history and experience in a certain field. They can give detail without taking too long and are a step between a resume and an in-person interview. However, CVs are falling behind in modern hiring processes.
5 Problems With the Modern CV
As a hiring manager, you probably become frustrated with the CVs of today. If submitted through an online portal, they are either jam-packed with keywords to grab attention or sparse enough that they do not meet job requirements. Here are the five main problems of modern CVs - the reasons that they need to change.
Inaccurate Skill Assessment
The biggest problem with CVs is that they don’t always accurately assess a potential employee’s skill set, whether because of keyword stuffing or a bland CV that could cause a skilled employee to slip through the cracks.
The skills and experience on a CV could be exaggerated, and keywords can be added to make it seem like a potential hire is more experienced than they are. Also, experience isn’t everything; sometimes the best candidate for a job is found outside of a CV or resume search.
Even though laws were passed to prevent gender and race from being included on a CV or resume, hiring someone based on an unintentional bias is still possible. Unfortunately, studies have shown that hiring bias based on names that sound more African American or female is still processed differently on CVs.
While CVs are not the only culprit for hiring bias, they can be adjusted to reflect a more neutral view of the applicant. Of course, bias education can help employers as well. Equal opportunity employers often use methods such as blind CVs and blind interviews to hire the most qualified person regardless of race or gender.
Lack of Standard CV Form
Of course, one of the most frustrating parts of looking through a list of CVs is that there’s no standard format. Although this helps some CVs to stand out and draw your attention, it can cause other CVs to look especially bland even if they have more qualifications. Employment shouldn’t be given based on design (unless that’s your business).
Although the lack of a standard CV is an issue, it’s something that is usually resolved with an online form. By putting information in a form, the hiring committee can see a similar result for each applicant. However, these forms differ per company and make applications difficult.
Incomplete Hiring Process
If a company only uses CVs and resumes in a hiring process, the hiring staff will never get an accurate view of a potential employee. CVs serve a purpose in narrowing down the search, but some hiring managers use them without further steps. If you use CVs, they should only be part of your hiring process.
Hiring an employee should be focused on finding the perfect person for the job, not the person with the most professional experience or years in the business. This process takes more than simply looking at a person’s experience on paper - you must meet with them and put them through assessments.
Constantly Changing Standards
The standards for a CV are vague and constantly changing. This not only adds stress to potential applicants but also makes it difficult for hiring managers to sort through a range of CV forms to find the most modern one.
These standards aren’t just about the CV, however. They also affect hiring in general. It cannot be easy to keep up with the changing market standards and reflect those on a CV properly, especially when most companies look for years of experience.
What Is the Future of CV and Recruitment?
Despite a rich CV history, it might be coming to an end soon. Because of the problems discussed above and the inherent issues with a static CV, the traditional way of looking at a CV will likely come to an end soon. However, it’s unclear what is in the future for the CV.
Many recruiters and employers think that a static CV will be replaced with video CVs, while others believe that CVs will no longer be necessary. Instead, potential employees will take employment assessments and other tests in addition to an interview. These tests look for aptitude and skills instead of relying on experience.
Without a CV entirely, the recruiting world might not look the same. It would focus much more on an applicant’s skills and potential than on former experience. While some employees would benefit from this, employees with experience would be at a small disadvantage, especially for a higher-level job.
Most likely, there will be a combination of skills testing and a CV for the experience. Whether the CV as we know it will evolve into something new or be gone forever, its impact will be remembered as we ask potential employees what experience they have.
From Leonardo DaVinci to YouTube, CVs have come a long way. However, they might not be long for the recruiting world. As long as there’s a way to test an applicant’s skills and ask about their experience, the CV will exist in some way or another.