CV "Trends" - Do They Matter?

It has long been apparent that many writers, bloggers, CV companies will talk about trends in CV writing. Are there any? Really?

In August 2016 LinkedIn shows 18,421 results for a search of "CV trends". It is, I would suggest, impossible for there to be anything like that number of CV variants. If we break down the CV into its component parts - profile, skills, roles and their detail, education, aob - it is literally impossible to have more than perhaps 10 - 15 trends, since the fundamentals of the document will not - and have not - changed.

There is an article from December 2015, written by a very respected industry figure and based on a study carried out by Microsoft, which advised that - and here it is necessary to paraphrase in order not to embarrass or denigrate - in a 10+ year period the number of seconds the average reader spends scanning the document has dropped by less than 10.

This is, if we analyse it, (a) apparently non-metrics based - how was the seconds' differential arrived at? and (b) should not - as regards the scanning part - be any surprise. Readers have always only scanned CVs - initially. So how is this a trend? What makes it "different" to anything that's happened before? It's difficult to see.

A quick Google search will show, on page 1, items such as "What changes should you make to your CV in 2014?", "2014 Resume & Job Search Trends for Executives" and hundreds more for 2012, 2013, 2014 and so on.

The worry for applicants and people trying to find a CV writing company which understands the broader market is that there is a large element of bamboozlement: how do I know this company is up-to-date? Does this company understand contemporary practice? It's difficult terrain for prospective clients. This is exacerbated by recruiters who put out information - based on what research precisely? - that it is vital to stick to companies who understand market trends. But who sets the trends?

If we go to see a film, it has been viewed on release by film critics. Yet if any of us watches any film on TV and doesn't like it, we turn it off. We are, definitively, all film critics. So in terms of what the critics do - which is separate from their influence on the market - what makes them "different" or "expert"? Nothing.

Now it is true that recognised or believed-to-be renowned recruiters will shape clients' views that trends must be followed, that they are key. This is not in question. What applicants should - must? - question is how correct this assertion of trends is.

There are some CV writers who pay little attention to so called trends, ignore "current market thinking" when they write for clients yet they are very successful; clients find jobs and refer friends and colleagues to the writer. Of course the reverse is also true - many writers and agencies believe trends are key. It is not that either is definitively right or wrong. Indeed, those with a belief in trends can also achieve successful results for their clients. It is about understanding that there are different viewpoints. Some applicants will simply conduct their own research and ask themselves the question: "what makes a recruiter or CV writer know anything better about trends than I can find out myself?" Some, not all, will reach the conclusion: probably not a lot.

Author Bio:
Nigel Benson is a professional career sector specialist with over 12 years' experience writing executive level CVs and expertise in recruitment, job interviews and training.