The death of the CV

01 May

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      With an increasing number of recruiters turning their backs on CVs for first-stage graduate sifting, finding a creative way to stand out from the crowd is becoming increasingly challenging.

      Automated processes make it difficult to make an impact and put your application at the top of the pile. But not all hope is lost; the rising popularity of strengths-based interviews give graduates a new opportunity to show their skills, talent and potential simply by being themselves.

      I believe the new age of strengths-based recruitment gives graduates a chance to learn about themselves and use their strengths to find the perfect job. With companies now receiving thousands of graduate applications during the recruitment window, first-stage sifting using manual techniques has become almost redundant.

      Most candidates to the largest or more popular schemes now go through layers of automated criteria analysis and tests before any human contact is made. This is highly efficient for large organisations, who can now narrow down high numbers of graduate applications with little or no active involvement.

      Long gone are the days of competing against other graduates who have drafted the ‘perfect CV’ and cover letter to get their foot in the door. Instead, companies can now find the perfect person for the role without ever seeing a CV – quickly, simply and easily.

      By automating the initial stage of the process, where application numbers are highest, and then inviting only the most promising applicants to a strengths-based telephone interview (and ultimately assessment centre), it is possible to find the perfect candidate for the role.

      What are strengths?

      Strengths are our behavioural preferences – the things we both love doing, and are really good at. This differs from ‘competencies’, which are things we can do well, but may not enjoy or gain energy from. This combination of enjoyment, energy, and competence is what defines strengths and leads to peak performance.

      For example, if someone has a strength for planning and is weaker at creativity, you will see better performance if they focus on developing strategy rather than designing an advert. When these people use  their strengths they will not only feel good, but their performance will improve too.

      By identifying strengths rather than just technical skill or competencies, organisations are able to find the ideal candidates, who are not only great for the job now, but have real potential for the future.

      Here are top tips to provide graduate candidates to put them on the right career track.

      1. Understand your strengths

      There are many ways to learn about your strengths. As a starting point, invest time in learning about your natural abilities and preferences. What are you doing in moments when time flies and you forget about everything else? Which tasks absorb you completely? It’s a concept we call ‘flow’ – the moments where you lose yourself in your work and become hyper-productive. If this happens, you’re playing to your strengths – so identify the moments this happens. Do you feel energized by developing others, or are you more comfortable when problem solving?

      2. Apply your strengths

      Once you’ve identified your strengths, look for opportunities to use them more and more. Think about the kind of roles and organisations where you could harness your strengths.

      You don’t need to be working to do this. You can utilise your strengths in your personal life, your hobbies, in the way you interact with others. Indeed, if you do use your strengths as much as possible, you’ll be happier for it.

      3. Be genuine

      Unlike competency-based recruitment, a strengths approach looks at what you enjoy doing and gain energy from – not just your levels of competence.

      If you attend an assessment centre, or have a strengths-based interview, it’s extremely difficult to identify and understand all the behaviours you’re being measured against.

      So be yourself. If you try to play to what you think they’re looking for, the chances are this will come across starkly to the professional assessors, and you may do yourself out of the ideal job. The highly experienced assessors you’ll meet at graduate recruitment events will know the difference between someone who is genuinely engaged, and someone who is faking it.

      Choose the role that is a perfect match for your strengths. This may not be the job that you initially had in mind, but you will thrive in the environment, making the choice effective in the long-term.

      The combination of your self-awareness, seeking employment opportunities that play to your strengths, and your genuine approach will help ensure that you’re well placed to secure a job you’ll love – CV or no CV.

      Written by Jamie Betts, principal consultant at Capp

      Jamie Betts is a Principal Consultant at Capp (, a leading strengths-based people management consultancy.

      With in-depth expertise in assessment for recruitment, Jamie has worked in both the private and public sector, consulting with organisations such as Lloyds Banking Group, Telefonica O2, Bupa, ABInBev, GCHQ, Serco, and the Civil Service Fast Stream.

      His experience encompasses designing and managing assessment centres, volume recruitment campaigns, graduate recruitment, validation studies, exercise design, SJT development, interview and assessment skills training, executive level assessment, and performance management.

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