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CVs don't always tell the full story

Updated: 15 Mar 2016

CV story

A person’s CV can only tell you so much about the candidate and what they can offer a business. That’s why looking beyond a CV is important for a business when making a hire and why candidates need to make sure it’s clear why they are equipped for the job, says Hays CEO, Alistair Cox, in his latest LinkedIn Influencer blog.

Alistair says, “While CVs can undoubtedly tell you a lot about a jobseeker, they don’t tell you the whole story. There is often a huge amount of missing information, particularly around their soft skills and potential fit within an organisation.”

Alistair asks employers not to be put off by a potential recruit if they have moved sectors or roles several times. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, having moved sectors in his own professional life Alistair uses this as an example, “I can say with absolute confidence that each role I’ve had has equipped me with invaluable and transferable skills that have been fundamental to my success in my next role. The problem is, conveying that on a CV is not always easy.”

He urges interviewers to think about the candidate and what they can bring to the role.

Learning from other sectors is highly valuable

It can always be a challenge for a business to gain knowledge from outside its own industry, one way of achieving this is by bringing someone in from the outside. Alistair says, “Industry outsiders often come armed with a variety of hard skills that can inject this innovation into your own sector. Things that may have been taken for granted elsewhere could be truly revolutionary in your own business.”

It’s important that the new employee can take their valuable experience and utilise it at their new place of employment. Alistair continues, “Based on my own experience at attempting to create this mix in my own business, if you can get it right it’s very powerful.”

A new direction requires courage and drive

A potential employee who has experience of different sectors could be considered as someone who is unsure of what they want to do, or who is just job-hopping. But interviewers should instead consider this a sign of someone who is self-motivated and ambitious.

Alistair says, “Employers should not automatically dismiss those pursuing roles outside their usual career route simply because they lack relevant industry experience. More often than not, I see a varied career path as a sign that a candidate is highly motivated and has the determination, perseverance and ambition to step outside their comfort zone. That’s a brave move and one to be admired.”

Soft skills are hard to write down

Soft skills are difficult to learn and often can’t be taught. The first opportunity an employer will have to assess a candidate’s interpersonal skills is at interview, but some potentially great candidates will not have made it that far. Alistair adds, “At the end of the day, people do business with other people. That means that even the best technical or hard skills are insufficient if an employee cannot communicate with their team or other departments, or motivate and lead them. While hard skills can be taught and refreshed, these vital soft skills are much harder to learn.”

Business fit

Most recruitment failures can be put down to a bad cultural fit, however, studying a candidate’s CV will not tell you whether they would successfully integrate into a team. Alistair says, “People and teams are complex creatures. When things work well, it’s incredibly powerful. When they don’t, problems await. I would argue that getting the right people and integrating them into a high-performing team is the most important and effective way of competing in today’s world, because that sort of workforce can make unpredictable and powerful things happen.”

A CV does not tell the whole story and by choosing to ignore a candidate’s CV, that perhaps doesn’t follow the traditional career path, businesses could be missing out on the ideal candidate. Alistair concludes, “Remember, hard skills can be learned, but the softer skills sitting behind someone’s experience take much longer to develop and can be much more valuable.”


About Hays
Hays plc (the "Group") is a leading global professional recruiting group. The Group is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK and Asia Pacific and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe and Latin America. The Group operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments. As at 31 December 2015 the Group employed 9,420 staff operating from 248 offices in 33 countries across 20 specialisms. For the year ended 30 June 2015:
– the Group reported net fees of £764.2 million and operating profit (pre-exceptional items) of £164.1 million;
– the Group placed around 63,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 200,000 people into temporary assignments;
– 23% of Group net fees were generated in Asia Pacific, 41% in Continental Europe & RoW (CERoW) and 36% in the United Kingdom & Ireland;
– the temporary placement business represented 58% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 42% of net fees;
– Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, the UK and the USA

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