Could technology replace the CV?

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The humble CV is still widely accepted as the number one method for employers to narrow down the best potential candidates.

Job interviewThe process is very simple, and in many cases, quite effective. The employer advertises a specific role, and the applications come rolling in from far and wide. Hundreds of CVs then find their way to the recruiter’s mail box and are subsequently sorted and analysed before a choice is made for the proceeding interviews. But is that all about to change?

An ineffective recruitment process

Not only is it extremely time consuming attempting to filter through the endless amounts of CVs, but the chances of still selecting the right employee is also very difficult, and in some cases, near impossible.

One of the main problems when faced with a mountain of CVs to look through is separating the truths from the half truths. A large number of CVs will be embellished to gain an edge – which is perhaps understandable when the competition is so fierce. But this, of course, creates a huge problem for employers who are trying to identify the best candidates.

This has led one company to decide that enough is enough, and to take the bold step of completely changing their recruitment process. The French cosmetics company L’Oreal have grown tired of the time consuming CV process and have said goodbye to the CV altogether in a radical new move that could potentially set a trend throughout the employment community.

L’Oreal will typically attract around 30,000 applications each year for their 70 places on the Company’s Chinese graduate scheme. But this time, the applicants have been told to forget all about wasting their efforts on the CV, and to just answer three simple questions via their smartphones.

A simpler way to recruit

Student on a smartphone
Woman sitting holding a smartphone

Students use their mobile phones to access the L’Oreal application process, and have to answer three open ended questions. For example: “If you were given one month and a budget of 30,000RMB to create any project you desired, what would you do?”

Algorithms can then be used to derive context from the answers that are given. Language can be a very accurate predictor of how intelligent an applicant is, and can also potentially identify how experienced and knowledgeable they are.

The job description and specific traits that L’Oreal China is looking for are also fed into the database, and then a comparison is made with the thousands of applications that are received. With today’s technological advancements, this kind of software could not only potentially locate better candidates, but will also save hundreds of hours.

More effective filtering

The old method of using the CV to find the right candidates are just not reliable enough, and many companies use qualifications as an indicator for the best applicant. However, this isn’t always the case, and having high University qualifications doesn’t always provide the best employees.

L’Oreal’s ability to use technology to filer out the best candidates may just give the Company an edge, and their decision to not put qualifications as top priority for gaining an interview may steer them in a much better direction.

However, the CV hasn’t been completely banished just yet, and L’Oreal still made it a requirement for the Chinese students who were fortunate enough to land a Skype interview. The 500 Skype interviews were then narrowed down to 200 face to face interviews, which is when the CV was then introduced as a reference tool. So although L’Oreal didn’t use CVs for the initial screening process, the CV was still an integral part of the hiring process.

Robin Young is the founder of Seedlink Tech, the start up company that has been drafted in to help L’Oreal. He explains:

Robin Young, co founder of Seedlink Tech“CVs just aren’t doing their job to predict how well someone’s going to perform in a career. We have developed algorithms that can take the words that people use and derive context from them.

Language can be a very good predictor, for instance, of how intelligent someone is, how experienced they are, how much knowledge they have.”

One candidate, Laurel Sun, was ranked sixth out of the 33,000 entries. According to BBC News, her submission read:

I want to set up an online shop that sells desserts to college students. The shop provides a door-to-door delivery service, but students only need to order on WeChat. The details are as follows:

  1. Carry out an online survey: investigate students’ favourite flavours and the prices they’re willing to pay (RMB1000/7 days).
  2. Accordingly, make a budget plan to determine the products, purchase the equipment and the raw ingredients and make the desserts myself (RMB15000/7 days).
  3. Set up the e-commerce shop and have a one-week promotion, providing free samples or giving rewards to those who press the ‘like’ button on WeChat (RMB8000/14 days).
  4. Launch the shop.

It’s too early to predict how well this new screening process will work for L’Oreal, but early indications have shown that around a third of chosen candidates wouldn’t have made it if the CV had have been used instead.

L’Oreal is no stranger to alternative recruitment methods. Twenty-two years ago they launched their pioneering Brandstorm competition, a marketing challenge that invites students from all over the world who think they have what it takes to assume the role of an international brand manager. Every year, thousands of undergraduates put their creativity to work and come up with a brand strategy for one of L’Oréal’s 28 international brands that is in keeping with the latest developments and trends in the market.

The competition offers students the opportunity of real work experience and has become an educational touchstone for schools worldwide. Since the game’s launch, it has attracted more than 70,000 students from 45 countries and more than 320 schools.

© Terre de Sienne for L’Oréal

Image source: L’Oreal


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