Nine reasons why you should never use resumes or CVs to sort your candidates

This is the method most people use to identify the candidates they are going to invite in for a final interview.

If you’ve ever found it difficult, you may be surprised to learn that it’s not only you – it’s because CVs and resumes just don’t give you information you need to make the right decision.

Here’s why :

  • Writing your CV or resume is a skill not correlated with the job
  • There is often vital information missing
  • Some resumes and CVs are full of lies
  • It’s too easy to submit a resume or CV
  • It may be written by someone else
  • It’s not a level playing field
  • Most are too general
  • You can’t tell how good the experience is
  • You can be too swayed by qualifications

Writing a good resume or CV is a skill

Being able to write a good resume is a great skill. And it’s one that not many people have. The correlation between that skill and being able to the job you want to fill is usually very low. How much do you like preparing your own resume or CV? How good do you think it is?

So people who are good at writing resumes and CVs aren’t necessarily going to be good at the job. Conversely, those who send in poor resumes or CVs could be some of your best applicants.

Missing information

I worked with one client who was asking for help with his resume. We went through the ghastly closely typed lines of the document this amazing software architect had produced. As we did, it transpired that he’d forgotten to mention a project he had initiated and run that had saved his employer £6m a year over 10 years.

I’ve come across many examples like this.


Possibly even worse I’ve come across examples where items on a resume or CV were at best inaccurate, and possibly just lies.

So you can easily end up rejecting good candidates and interviewing people who are very poor candidate but are good at constructing resumes (or candidates who have had their resume updated by an agency).

It’s so easy to submit a resume or CV

Another issue is that many job sites make it very easy for candidates to submit a resume or CV at the click of a button. So they just ‘apply’ for hundreds of jobs. Then you can be left in the position of having to wade through all those applications. How many times have you called a candidate you are interested only to find they don’t even remember your company, or applying for the job?

Did the candidate write it?

Many people don’t do their own resume or CV. There are companies that provide this as a service.

Level playing field

Using resumes and CVs means you are unable to judge candidates on a level playing field, which is vital if you want to find the best ones.

You need a specific set of skills, behaviours and values

Unfortunately candidates tend to use the same resume and CV for every job. It’s a pretty general document and tries to be all things to all people. So it’s hard for you to see if they have the specific skills and experience you are looking for.

Levels of experience

It’s very tempting to assume someone with several years experience is going to be a better candidate than someone with just one year. But this isn’t always the case. Would you prefer the person that had spent ten years doing a potentially poor job, over one that had one years’ experience potentially doing a great job?


And it’s also the same when it comes to qualifications. I’ve seen candidates who appeared to be extremely well qualified turn out to be useless. (Sometimes worse than useless.)

A better way

Far better to design an application form to get the information you need. Yes, it may take a bit more time initially, but in the long run it will not only save you a great deal of time, but will also get you higher quality candidates.