CVs and their alternatives

Employers get bombarded with resumes. Do we need them?

Going through CVs/resumes can be a time-consuming nightmare when you get a huge response to a job advert.

As an article on by Joe Murphy points out, the usual reaction to dealing with a flood of resumes tends to be to create complex ways of searching through them, even though the data in them is a poor predictor of job performance.

Murphy’s answer is simple — ditch the resume (at least for the beginning of the recruitment process) and replace it with a combination of screening and assessment.

He says the experience listed on a CV “is proxy data for underlying skills, abilities, and competencies”.

He says one study found that 23% of executives had misrepresentations on their resumes. However, he believes there is far less distortion on recruitment methods such as work style profile questionnaires, scorerable biodata and situational judgement questions.

So how do you do the screening? Murphy suggests using scoreable questionnaires which look at “work experience, minimum qualifications, specialist knowledge and biodata”. If someone doesn’t have key qualifications they're knocked out.

“Self-scheduling software can advance candidates into an online or proctored assessment session. The science of assessment has been evolving into simulated work samples and virtual job tryouts. These methods can embed situational judgement, reasoning skills and workstyle preferences to yield a person-job fit score.”

Once you have the assessment results, you select the candidates with the best fit for an interview.

“It is at this point that the resume becomes useful and valuable for context to guide the interview.”

While this may sound good in theory, Murphy says it’s not yet happening widely — even though the web and computing power could be used to improve the process.

Of course, if you are at the other end of the recruitment process you can move away from CVs yourself.

On Creative Marketing Solutions, Marcia Rudkins says you can replace your resume with a Business Bio. She says it tells a story in the a few paragraphs that outline who you are and what you’ve done.

“It tosses completeness and chronology to the wind and includes only what is relevant to your story. Think of a business bio as the sort of blurb about you that might appear on the back inside flap of a book jacket, if you were an author.”

She says the bio should begin with an overview statement, “which provides a big-picture summary of your unique combination of skills and experience” followed by the most pertinent facts. She has a couple of examples on her site.

She says a Business Bio isn’t always the answer, as sometimes you’ll need a resume — such as in a competitive bidding situation which specifically calls for a resume.

Joan Lloyd agrees that jobseekers can use alternatives to CVs and one of her suggestions is a marketing letter, particularly if you are new graduate, have employment gaps (but relevant accomplishments) or you’ve changed careers or your past titles don’t do you justice.

A marketing letter is a combination of a resume and a cover letter, Lloyd says.

“It is addressed to the decision-maker, is well written and contains accomplishments that fit the position. A marketing letter ‘targets’ a specific employer and job, rather than being a general ‘broadcast’ letter sent in a mass mailing.”

One of the benefits of the marketing letter is that it can be used even if there isn’t a job being advertised.

“A marketing letter is similar in concept to a direct advertising flyer that is selling something. It must rivet attention by selling ‘benefits’ to the buyer and can be designed with ‘bullet points’ to draw the eye down to key points.”

Lloyd features some examples on her site of how to go about writing a marketing letter.

Mills is a Dunedin-based writer. She can be contacted at

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