I no longer have a CV. I have no wish to work with organisations that still see CVs as relevant to hiring, and I feel my online presence presents me in a much better light than any CV can.

“There’s no shortage of talent, only a shortage of companies that talent wants to work for.”

~ @flowchainsensei

Some time ago – circa 2012 – I took it upon myself to convert my occasional, piqued tweets about the current state of knowledge-work recruitment into a (low-key) “campaign”, via the hashtag #NoCV.

Personally, I see the CV (a.k.a. resumé) as the poster child for all that is wrong with recruitment today. The dysfunctions are huge and legion, including:

  • Random filtering of applications by computerised keyword matching.
  • Recruitment on the basis of narrow specialisms.
  • Inability to surface “exceptional” candidates.
  • Exodus of progressive employers from the recruitment (agency) market.

Organisations of every stripe spend far too much time, money and effort, for poor outcomes, in their unthinking conformance with outmoded recruitment practices.

The system of recruitment via agencies is broken, and all the participants in the system are trapped by it, seemingly incapable of change:

Recruitment agents: I can’t believe that most individual recruitment agents are happy, with a high proportion of their day, every day, spent trawling through pile after pile of inane CVs, rather than getting to exercise their real talent for talking with candidates and clients, and helping them make the most of their talents, and find the best talent, respectively.

Clients: I can’t believe that client companies (potential employers, hiring managers) are at all happy with the cost, delays and burden of interviewing a seemingly endless stream of barely-suitable candidates. I suspect that few companies realise how badly their current recruitment processes reflect on them as employers, and how this reduces the engagement and commitment of new starters from the very outset.

Candidates: I can’t believe candidates (potential employees and contractors) are happy with being treated like cattle; ignored, under-appreciated, dehumanised and disrespected even before they get to start that new job (if they ever do). Sadly, many folks these days seem resigned to this as “normal”.

There must be a better way. Companies like Zappos seem to have found something that works for them. More and more organisations are coming to see the CV as an unnecessary evil. Long may that trend continue! #NoCV

If you’d like to support or contribute to this campaign, just add a comment, below. Questions always welcome, too.

– Bob

Further Reading

Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs ~ Joel Capperella
When the Computer Says “No” – Sydney Morning Herald article
A Third of Top Execs Think of Quitting in Their FIrst 90 Days – HR Magazine article
The Market for Lemons – Wikipedia entry
Resumes Are Mostly Useless ~ Andrew Wulf (blog post)

  1. Hear hear! I have dealt with so many unscrupulous, dehumanising recruiters down the years and often been left nothing short of depressed.

    As a job seeker you are often at your most vulnerable and many recruiters exploit this, seemingly heartlessly. Not to mention the laziness they exhibit of not even bothering to read CV’s or cover letters, check social networking profiles and, most unforgivably, listen to what jobseeker wants. I back this campaign 100%.

  2. Fully in support!

    I recently explored leaving the family consulting business to work elsewhere, but soon found exactly what you describe – broken recruiting processes.

    I am back in the fold of my safe place in the family business – knowing there are only a few other places I would possibly enquire at – and those only because I know people who work there and have heard a lot about them….

    #NoCV is a good movement.


  3. I thoroughly agree that recruitment processes are broken, and over the years with both internal (trying to find candidates for roles and trying to find roles for me) and external ‘Resource Managers’ *shudder*, have found the entire industry adds very little value.

    I think overall, this is because the industry and process hasn’t understood that overall, it’s a Quality-related process, and as we know, trying to inspect in Quality rarely works any more than it does in coding. It’s particularly painful when applications go through multiple rounds of sequential inspection, where each round tries to do the same thing.

    What we should be doing is constructing recruitment messages and selection processes that are self-error-proofing and built Quality in at source – ensuring that candidates who don’t stand a realistic chance of ultimate success – not just in getting the job but also in thriving in the environment – never get into the selection process in the first place.

  4. I am so pleased I have found this campaign. I have worked within the recruitment sphere for many years and feel that the CV is not a true reflection on a person’s suitability for a job. The pressure on the applicants to heighten an individual’s experience level, dates of employment stretched if there are gaps and the need for overused keywords such as “attention to detail”

    I am a strong believer that recruiters should be more innovative that can help create opportunities for candidates to prove their knowledge content, how they would approach a certain real life situational problem but also for the recruiter to illustrate their history, culture and current work environment.

    I would certainly like the end of the CV reliance and focus on systems that provide a systematic & fair recruitment process that helps identify talent and more importantly data that helps develops succession planning from day 1.

  5. Another supporter here. This is connected with another topic I’ve seen you tweet about: why employers insist on trying to shoehorn people into roles instead of designing roles to suit people. In the past I was lucky enough to work for a small company that really tried to create roles to suit people, but I agree it’s very rare. I think the economic backdrop is a big factor. The economy was growing, we were in a newish marketplace, with a few competitors rushing to stake out their market share. There was a general feeling of exciting possibilities, with big wins up for grabs. The company’s founders needed people to help them harness all this potential. So did other companies, so it was more of a jobseeker’s market.

    When times are tighter, like now, I think employers are more likely to write a lengthy, abstract ‘person specification’ before meeting candidates. Because it’s a buyer’s market and they can. Or maybe they feel they must, to protect themselves from the deluge of applicants? 😉 They then use the CV as a tool to try and match real people to their abstract spec.

    I fully agree that the CV (and the disembodied ‘person specification’) are the emblems of a broken system. I’m hopeful that innovators staking out new markets might see it differently though, and also that alternative approaches might go more mainstream in better economic times. Thanks for the #NoCV campaign.

  6. Jon said:

    Have you considered the recruitment business yourself? It would be nice to deal with someone who actually understood and cared about the needs of developers, and it could be a gateway to helping companies further with their systems.

  7. Andy H said:

    This convention fits because it is what is expected and works to move you from one workspace to another workspace whilst leaving so many other fundamental aspects (fulfilment, opportunity, self-worth) in the cold. So we need to leave these workspaces because these fundamentals aren’t being met, but then no one gave it any sort of priority when seeking a position or when recruiting for a position, it was a round hole (there was a need for some skills) and you were a round peg (you perceived yourself as having some of those skills) and so you played the game. So long as players are willing to play the game rather than invent a new one, we’re screwed.

    Try coming from this from another angle as I did, ‘recruited’ into a nominal role (more of an invitation to engage wrapped up in the context of a job), given opportunity to explore, refine, grown, fulfill, self-actualise’ etc; then try and “CV” that or tell a recruitment droid that and you are now a square peg and you no longer fit in round holes.

  8. A nice post. It is great that you describe the problem but it would be even better if you could propose an alternative. In the NoCV world, how do people find employers and companies emploees?

    • Daniel A said:

      Yes, it would be good to hear some proposals. In Bob Marshalls case, he has alluded to an online profile being a better representation of a person. Having found and hired through this route successfully on several occasions, there are pitfalls. I have seen some very great online presences, with endless references, quotations, conferences videos, and followers turn out to be complete frauds in the workplace, or more focused on their online profile to have time to do the work!

      I dont think it matters too much what the source of a potential employee is, be it CV, online profile, recommendation, or networking. What those looking for candidates should remember is to open up multiple channels of search, and look for personal recommendation from a trusted source to back up a potential offer of employment.

    • I’ve just been reading “Joy, Inc.” about Menlo Innovations. They seem to share the #NoCV philosophy, and in the book describe at length how they go about recruiting.

      – Bob

      • Oh, nice, thanks!

  9. Tobias said:

    I support this movement. CVs/Resumes are the most boring reading in the world. So glad I am not a hiring manager these days. Reviewing online presence is a good alternative, but as Daniel said, not perfect. Nothing beats face-to-face dialog, but it’s tough to scale. I’ve no idea what the best/better way is, but I sure reckon we should start by eliminating the waste. Then maybe we can see.

  10. lisacrispin said:

    I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a job due to my CV. But, I’ve almost always had to supply one, usually after the hiring manager decides to hire me, because their HR department requires it.

    And when I’m on the hiring side, the best candidates are always the ones we learned about through personal connections. Again, we have to get their resumé as a formality. We may even bring it to the interview. But the most revealing interview activities are pairing or having the candidate demonstrate how they would do something such as test a particular UI.

    I look for a person with the right mindset and attitude, it is hard to capture that on a CV, for sure. I wish sites like LinkedIn delivered more on their promise to connect people up. It seems to happen more the old-fashioned way, through personal connections.

  11. The CV is a poor instrument for an introduction to a person’s capacity, particularly for people with a “non-traditional” work trajectory. The CV is based on highly selective “evidence” from the past and has very little bearings on a person’s capacity to think and create in the future. It also favors people who have a particular confidence in make believe (“spinning” their experiences into “accomplishments” as if there were no failures or challenges).

    I want to know what is going to compel the person to contribute on the team when everything breaks loose (in good and bad ways). What moves them, inspires them. What big dreams have they risked everything for? What keeps them up at night?

    I want to know all of the weird, great, crazy ways they could bring their whole self, all of their experiences, knowledge, values and perspectives to make a difference.

    A CV can’t tell you that.

  12. carrichapp said:

    Hi Bob, how have you found recruitment opportunities since adopting the #NoCV stance? For example, when making applications for jobs do you know send out information regarding your online presence instead?


  13. Mark (@mawebb) said:

    Back in the contract market after a long contract and I agree the CV is a poor instrument, made even more useless by the middlemen agencies that use it for filtering. Mostly I see that it used a quick and dirty (aka lazy) tool. But the business model that many agencies use, they need to turn over jobs/contracts quickly and want a ‘quick’ tool for filtering. Getting rid of the CV is the first step on a major refactoring of the recruitment business. Long overdue 🙂

  14. Bob, what do you offer to use instead of resumes?
    Could you please describe your alternative approach.

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