The Best Person Doesn’t Always Have the Best CV
There are many different ways to identify talent and it often pays to read between the lines in a CV.
Recent research into the ‘non-educational barriers to elite professions’ explored recruitment at many of the UK’s top law and accountancy firms.
With a particular focus on London, the Government study concluded that our very best professional service companies continue to be heavily staffed by people from ‘more privileged backgrounds’.
The report said gaining this type of employment is often worryingly skewed in favour of ‘higher-class people’, so much so, that many of their most senior executives would not be appointed today if they applied for a job.
Issued only six months ago, this evaluation shows there remains a ‘glass ceiling’ for working-class people in the UK, with job seekers believed to be discriminated against on the basis of the educational institutions they have attended, their accent, personal characteristics, style and mannerisms.
Working directly with many of the North East’s major accountancy practices, I have to say that I don’t believe such inequality is as commonplace in our region, but it seems national evidence points toward recruiters with an abundance of choice selecting the safest options and interviewing those with CVs that include private schools, Russell Group universities and gap years spent travelling around the world.
In my experience, whilst academics and experience are crucial, its often attitude and cultural fit that are the decisive factors in finding truly successful long-term recruits; and these traits are hard to spot in a CV.
Recruitment isn’t rocket science, far from it, but when I’m short-listing applicants for clients, the ability to carry out the technical aspects of a job should be a given.
Once established, it becomes all about understanding someone’s personality to determine whether or not they will connect with and fit in to the business in question.
My advice is to look carefully at each CV. For those at the start of their career, see if they have shown drive and determination by taking weekend jobs or completing Duke of Edinburgh programmes.
Try not to jump to any conclusions. Examine their interests to see if there’s anything that stands out and shows you they have a little bit more about themselves and could be different.
If two CVs have the same qualifications, it’s important to consider not only where the people are today, but how they got there. Were they born into success and supported along their journey, or have they had to fight to get to where they are, taking jobs out of necessity and studying whilst in full-time employment?
Be prepared to be open-minded and think carefully about the type of person you want to bring into your team. Don’t forget that around 35% of the world’s most highly successful entrepreneurs are said to have dyslexia; with many believing it is this, amongst other adversities in life, which has given them their resilience and determination to succeed.
Passion and purpose are fundamental to being a great team player and offering someone who has not had people to count on the trust and respect they deserve may well be the best way to find engaged and positive employees that are keen to learn and grow in tandem with your business.
If you’re working with a recruitment agency, listen to their advice and don’t be afraid to question their reasoning about who you ought to interview. They should have pre-screened each candidate, meeting and speaking to every one before short-listing them for you.
In the end, the safest choices may well turn out to be the right ones, but sometimes it pays to take a risk and spend a little extra time meeting a ‘wildcard’ or two.
After all, companies who are committed to diversity and inclusive practices tend to outperform their peers, and if you do give people a fair chance, every now and again you might just find that ‘diamond in the rough’; and there are certainly plenty of them about!