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Attitude over attainment: why we’re moving to CV-less hiring

By Jennifer Wu, Vice president, people, EMEA



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August 7, 2023 | 7 min read

Recruitment has been revolutionized by tech and demographic shifts – so why do we still rely on CVs? Team Lewis is the latest agency to ditch CVs in part of their recruitment. Jennifer Wu tells us why.

A balled-up piece of paper

CV-less hiring: a game-changer for agencies? / Robbie Noble via Unsplash

Great people are the foundation of every business, regardless of industry, geography, or role. And for agencies, giving people an opportunity and taking a chance where you spot brilliance is a major selling point.

So, why are employees still excluding people based on their academic qualifications?

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Investing in workers

During the Covid-19 pandemic, The Harvard Business Review encouraged us to visualize a ‘hiring process without resumes’ by imagining ‘shifting resources to invest in workers, rather than finding ways to exclude them’.

Yet in its recent campaign to support the “class of Covid”, UK charity The Prince’s Trust cited “research that finds that 2.8 million young people in the UK don't think their job prospects will ever recover from the pandemic. A situation that is only set to worsen by the cost-of-living crisis”.

In these challenging trading conditions, attracting fresh creative talent that gives you an edge is key. This makes breaking down barriers and making careers in marketing more attractive critical.

That’s why we scrapped the CV and are planning to launch three new training programs in the US, EMEA and APAC for 100 new staff worldwide. These candidates will be hired on attitude rather than academic qualifications.

5 benefits of ditching CVs

So, what are the benefits of canning the CV?

First, it can increase the diversity of candidates. This is incredibly important in our industry. Our job is to know our client’s audience and how to tell their story effectively. A highly diversified workforce allows us to capture different perspectives and continuously evolve our way of communicating with purpose and effectiveness.

Second, it can expand the pool of talent. The gap between each successive generation continues to get smaller, and relying on traditional methods of recruiting star talent is no longer enough. Our demographics continue to change, and the type of skills we need continue to evolve. We must also evolve our approach to recruitment to hire the best.

Third, CV-less hiring responds to the accelerating speed of entry-level talent. They move at lightning speed, and long, drawn-out recruitment processes risk losing dynamic and ambitious individuals. As technology allows for more automation, candidates of a younger generation expect seamless processes. Archaic ways of repetitive collection of data just don’t work.

Fourth, it lets us make the most of social platforms. Our way of gathering information has become far easier than it used to be. Platforms like LinkedIn allow for a constantly evolving CV (versus a static ‘point in time’ CV).

And, finally, it can re-inject creativity into the process. Ensuring that creativity is threaded through all areas of the business is critical to organizations’ success. It also helps to showcase that success to new talent coming into the workforce, letting them know which organizations they should aspire to be a part of. Never allowing the ‘norm’ to settle in means that we can always be open to new ideas, new people, and new generations to flourish.

Give me a break

Regardless of its level, any organization wants self-motivated, driven individuals who have an entrepreneurial streak to fuel growth and think ahead.

My career at Team Lewis is case in point. I transitioned to heading up a people function across EMEA and APAC via finance and start-up roles elsewhere. My role at the agency excited me because my employer looked beyond my CV to see how my sales experience could be deployed to market to internal and external candidates. I’ve now been with the agency for ten years.

So, what next? For those who’ve been given a break by anyone in this industry, it’s time to pay it forward by updating an outdated process so we can celebrate the true storyteller and innovator. Think intro video versus exam results. Social profile versus static piece of paper. I’d apply.

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TEAM LEWIS is a global marketing agency, delivering Creative Campaigns for Commercial and Community Causes. The company has 25 offices throughout Asia, Europe and...

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