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"I'd scrap it tomorrow": Why you, too, should ditch the CV in grad recruitment

Tuesday 31st August

Asked for their thoughts on the CV in graduate recruitment, one of our customers responded honestly:

“I’d scrap it tomorrow!”

How does that make you feel? Hopeful? Sceptical? Maybe even a bit anxious? 

At first, it might sound like a fringe opinion. After all, the CV’s been around for decades, and the process is well-defined. Grads send CVs, recruiters review them, etc. At this point, it’s muscle memory. We accept it.

But, for progressive employers just like our customer, that’s exactly the problem. The CV isn’t perfect – we’re just used to it. And now, with new alternatives offering a better way to see your graduates’ true potential, it’s time we considered the unthinkable…

It’s time to ditch the CV. Here’s three reasons why (and one easy way you can do it safely): 

1. They don’t show you true potential

Whether your graduate candidates have any experience or not, the CV’s not set up to help you see it: 

No experience, no insight

The first issue is that more grads than ever have zero work experience. The Resolution Foundation has found that, in the last two decades: 

  • Paid employment in 16-17 year olds has halved
  • The number of 18-19 year-old students in work has fallen 25% 
  • There’s been a 15% drop in the number of students aged 20-21 finding paid work

So, if you want to measure your graduates’ true potential, their CVs are increasingly useless. Think about it. A CV’s sole purpose is to record past achievements and experience, right? If they don’t do that, they do more harm than good – but a bit more on that later. For now, it’s clear that they’re increasingly out of place in an objective, data-driven screening process.

Experience, but no data

But what about the grads who do have experience? This raises another important issue: whether past experience actually predicts how candidates will perform in future.

Predictive hiring – the ability to know true potential when you see it – is surely the holy grail for anyone in talent acquisition, right? But the data shows that a grad’s past won’t help you tell their future. An academic study from 2019 (the excitingly-named “Meta-Analysis of the Criterion-Validity of Pre-Hire Work Experience”), confirms it.

The folks who ran the study discovered two main reasons for this: 

  1. Context – Any experience is specific to the previous employer. Knowing how to work well in Company X doesn’t mean those behaviours and learnings will apply to Company Y. In fact, they might even make you less suitable.
  2. A leap of faith – Experience doesn’t actually measure anything. Instead, it assumes that candidates have learnt the lessons they need to in past roles. It’s not really data at all.

So, even if grads do have paid work experience, that info still won’t predict their true potential. Another reason to scrap the CV entirely.

2. They don’t support fair graduate hiring

The lack of objective data on a grad’s CV puts recruiters in a pickle. With nothing to actually ‘measure’, their attention naturally shifts to subjective info, like names, schools, even individual phrases – all of which are a gateway to natural bias. As we know, this gets in the way of fair hiring, and prevents truly diverse, successful teams. 

Let’s look at a few quick examples of subjective information on CVs that encourage bias:


Most CVs contain names. And our names can convey both ethnicity and gender – so they’ll immediately activate recruiters’ and hiring managers’ natural biases. Numerous studies (like here, or here) prove the negative effects of such biases – namely, the favouring of white males, at the expense of women and minority ethnic groups.

Educational background

2019 research from jobs board Milkround uncovered a bias for seemingly ‘elite’ universities, like the UK’s Russell Group. Their study found more grads from this group landed full-time work in a matter of weeks compared to their non-Russell Group peers (four in five vs. two in three). 

This suggests that the presence of candidates’ educational backgrounds encourages recruiters to use that insight subjectively as a way to sift. That’s another bias, born out of CVs. 

Work experience

And lastly, a curveball. Even work experience on a graduate CV can encourage bias. But how?

It comes down to how the majority of candidates get their experience in the first place. LinkedIn found that networks and family ties account for 85% of positions filled – meaning that privileged candidates, with access to larger networks, will have more experience than those without. 

So, by weighing experience as a way to screen grads, there’s a risk your process inherently favours those from more affluent, connected backgrounds.

3. They waste your time

If you made an investment that only ever returned less than you put in, you’d change something pretty quick… 

It’s the same with CVs. Hours and hours go into manual CV screening – and, at the other end, out comes low-quality, subjective information, and little way to see your candidates’ true potential. At best, it’s inefficient. At worst? It’s soul-destroying!

One Arctic Shores customer, Arcadis, reckons they saved 100 days by replacing the CV with a new way to see their candidates’ true potential: our behaviour-based assessment. Imagine how you’d use that time. What meaningful work would you get done, now the manual work was a thing of the past?

About behaviour-based assessments:

If you’re looking for a way to see beyond the CV – beyond the usual measures of graduate potential – then our behaviour-based psychometric assessment can help. Here’s how:

  • Objective insight – Replace subjective info with objective insight into your graduates’ unique behaviour and natural strengths
  • Measure what matters – Consistently measure every candidate on the behaviours that matter for the role, and nothing else 
  • Level the playing field – Put aside age, gender, ethnicity, background and neurotype, and give your grads a fair shot.

And then, get that insight delivered directly to you – instantly. No training or expertise necessary.

Sound up your street? Then arrange to see the assessment for yourself, and set yourself up to scrap the CV in grad recruitment. Once and for all.

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