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Posted by Hays UAE, March 2016

Author: Alistair cox, Chief Executive of Hays

While CVs can undoubtedly tell you a lot about a jobseeker, they don’t tell you the whole story. There is often a huge amount of missing information, particularly around their soft skills and potential fit within an organisation. A good university or impressive job title certainly won’t reveal much about these aspects to an employer. An excellent candidate can also very easily find themselves on the ‘no’ pile for the wrong reasons, for example someone who has moved sectors or roles several times. The problem is, conveying that on a CV is not always easy.

So there are two lessons here: one for employers to see beyond the CV and not fall into the trap of rejecting anything that doesn’t look perfect and one for candidates to better explain why they are well equipped for the role they are hoping to win.

Learning from other sectors is highly valuable

One problem any business faces is how it gains knowledge from outside that challenges the status quo and “the way we’ve always done things around here”. Industry outsiders often come armed with a variety of hard skills that can inject this innovation into your own sector. Things that may have been taken for granted elsewhere could be truly revolutionary in your own business. The trick for an employer is finding those people who can bring these insights and integrating them into their own business.

The trick for a new employee is bringing their past experience to the new table in a way that is acceptable and implementable to their new business. Too many times I’ve seen new employees rejected because they cannot transition their ideas effectively into the new environment. There’s nothing wrong with the ideas themselves; it’s the way they are communicated that causes the failure. But based on my own experience at attempting to create this mix in my own business, if you can get it right it’s very powerful.

A new direction requires courage and drive

Employers should not automatically dismiss those pursuing roles outside their usual career route simply because they lack relevant industry experience.

More often than not, I see a varied career path as a sign that a candidate is highly motivated and has the determination, perseverance and ambition to step outside their comfort zone. That’s a brave move and one to be admired. Self-motivated employees will be highly productive and often have a propensity to up-skill themselves and bring others along with them. These are the characteristics I am always looking for. However, too often the CV can portray this sort of move as someone who looks like they do not know what they want, that they job-hop every year or two and cannot hold down a permanent role.

So if there’s a danger that’s how your own CV reads, fix it to ensure the reader sees a motivated person who is building a rich set of relevant experiences that will be hugely valuable, as opposed to someone drifting between random roles.

Soft skills are hard to write down

At the end of the day, people do business with other people. That means that even the best technical or hard skills are insufficient if an employee cannot communicate with their team or other departments, or motivate and lead them. While hard skills can be taught and refreshed, these vital soft skills are much harder to learn.

Those employees who have thrived across a variety of industries and roles will have had to hone their interpersonal skills several times over. They will have had to adapt to new colleagues, pick up new expertise and acclimatise to new sectors, usually very quickly. That’s a skill in its own right, but I hazard a guess that it is very rarely given any credit in a CV. In most instances, the first time an employer has the chance to assess a candidate’s interpersonal skills is at interview – sadly, many great candidates may not even get that far.

Business fit

Evaluating a candidate’s suitability requires time and nuance; simply searching for like-for-like experience only tells part of their story. People and teams are complex creatures. When things work well, it’s incredibly powerful. When they don’t, problems await.

I would argue that getting the right people and integrating them into a high-performing team is the most important and effective way of competing in today’s world, because that sort of workforce can make unpredictable and powerful things happen. That means that your human instinct in the hiring process has never been so important, because most recruitment failures are the result of a poor cultural fit.

It also makes the interview process even more important, to best understand that fit in advance. So, what questions will you ask in your next interview, and how will you convey “how” you are as opposed to just “what you’ve done”? If you are interviewing prospective employees, how will you use the interview to uncover the real person sitting in front of you?

As I said earlier, a CV doesn’t tell you the whole story and, while it acts as a form of simple filter, it could be used better to bring an individual’s experience and motivation to life. By ignoring candidates simply because they haven’t followed the traditional subscribed career path, your business could be missing out on a fresh perspective, a revolutionary problem solver and an innovative leader. Remember, hard skills can be learned, but the softer skills sitting behind someone’s experience take much longer to develop and can be much more valuable.

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Thanks for reading! Tori