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Past experience poor indicator of future performance

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Neville Rose
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An interesting article has been published by the recruitment intelligence site Ri5, which if taken on board by the recruiting community, could have big ramifications for recruitment in general and the way CVs are structured and written.

The article reports on some research carried out by The Chemistry Group which says that 75% of recruiters are getting recruitment wrong by placing too much weight on past experience as an indicator of future performance. These mistakes end up costing the economy billions of pounds a year through unsuitable people being hired. And because there is a reluctance to change the system, the same mistakes are made over and over. A far better predictor of future performance are factors such as 'intellect, values, motivations and behaviours' (see This perseverance with past experience probably explains the results of another recent piece of research by Second Careers who found that the first place many recruiters go to in a CV is 'career history'.

I'm sure we've all seen many an experienced professional being hired and for things not to work out. Not because of not having the technical skills, just having different values and behaviours − that usually aren't aligned with the bosses. You see it all the time. Even in football, players with proven experience might move to a new club and things just don't work out: think Juan Sebastien Veron at Man Utd or even Tevez at Man City. They just don't 'fit'. Mind you, where does Tevez fit?

A CV is often the first glimpse an employer will get of a prospective employee, so how do you convey the right 'fit'?

The generally accepted CV structure is reverse chronological where the reader dips straight into a persons career history. However, surely it's better to paint a picture of the candidate first? A well written Professional Profile should convey how a person creates success with their own individual values and behaviours.

This can then be backed up in a second section of either 'key skills and competencies' or 'key achievements'. Specific examples can be used of how a person has demonstrated the right competencies and behaviours to overcome challenges or create success. And when described under labels that mirror the organisation's own corporate values, well, you'd hope the recruiter will now be playing close attention.

A CV structured this way enables a recruiter to get a much better idea of a candidates attitude, values and behaviours than a CV that immediately goes in to a persons career history. The question is whether recruiters will change their ways? Until the audience for CVs significantly shifts their position on what's important when hiring people, then the reverse chronological CV will hold sway. And the same mistakes will be made over and over.

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