Why CVs can be good for equal opportunities
If you deconstruct a CV to its base form, it is quite literally a blank piece of paper. From there you can reconstruct it to any structure or format you like and populate it with any given content. So, a CV in this sense provides for a level playing field for every job applicant. It is our customs and habits in what information that is included that leads to criticism and the opportunity for biased decisions.
This adaptability may be why the CV has withstood the test of time. Over the last 10 years or so new ideas such as video CVs have appeared to offer better, more dynamic alternatives. The CV format is far from perfect. But for now, it still reigns as the most popular format for applying for jobs.
Your CV should be assessed purely on your ability to do the job
Yes, how well you write and align your CV to the post being applied for will improve your chances of interview, so will including specific examples of achievements with facts and figures to support. But the opportunity to write an effective CV is open to everyone. There are lots of CV advice articles around to sift through and help articulate your ideas and express yourself in a CV. If you take the time and effort to do your research, you put yourself on a good footing.
Your CV should be based on facts without any lies or mistruths. This will allow the reader to make an evidenced based decision on critically analysing the information before them. However, this in itself will not counter sub-conscious bias.
What is subconscious bias?
According Wikipedia subconscious bias is “learned stereotypes that are automatic, unintentional, deeply engrained, universal, and able to influence behaviour”. Within recruitment this means that factors such as age, sex, ethnicity and religion could potentially influence someone when reading a CV and deciding on whom to call to interview. So how do we reduce the chances of this happening?
Never include photos or any personal details
Quite clearly including a photo in a CV can induce subconscious bias. This may be a key reason video CVs have never taken off. Don’t include a photo in your CV or any other personal details like date of birth, marital status, religion or personal circumstance that is irrelevant to your application. You don’t have to date your academic qualifications either if concerned about age discrimination. Not including personal information will reduce sub-conscious bias but not eradicate it completely.
Anonymous CVs have been around for a while now, however, the practice has not been widely adopted. Not including your name or place of education would further reduce the opportunity for subconscious bias. Further anonymising CVs would certainly be a step in the right direction in creating a level playing field.
Reinvent a blank piece of paper
By reconstructing the CV format with less personal information and taking steps to reduce subconscious bias we apply more focus on the achievements of the individual. The fact you can deconstruct and reconstruct CVs in infinite ways means they can change for the better. I believe we should take every opportunity to do so.