The executive-level CV has been a career/job staple now for many years, but depending on what articles you read, there seems to be a movement toward cloud based options (storing your data remotely online).

So, is the paper CV dead? How should we be thinking about this?

Small Touches Still Count

My take on this is that the CV isn’t dead, not yet. Personal touches are an often forgotten factor. If proximity allows, imagine the difference it could make by handing your CV, with cover letter if appropriate, personally to the relevant recruiter or HR contact for the position to which you’re applying (for a direct approach)? How about old fashioned snail mail? Personal touches like this are rare, but most job searches are ultimately about standing out from the crowd, no?

I know in reality sometimes this approach isn’t possible, but at least consider the option. This kind of thinking elevates your personal brand – “you” – above the average applicant. Companies and recruiters will definitely want to look you up online, so take care to check and double check alignment of your CV with your social media profile – including spelling and grammar.

Watch out for any potential red flags, especially around inconsistencies. Even though we live in an age where entrepreneurship is more common or accepted — and being an entrepreneur can lead to a non-linear resume — many old-school recruiters still consider ‘resume gaps’ to be bad, so have a way to explain any of those (it can be as simple as “was starting a new venture”).

Personal Brand Consistency

One thing that’s certain is that consistency across multiple platforms is a major factor to consider. Take social media. LinkedIn is growing massively — as of Q4 2015, it has about 400 million users. Ensure that if you upload your CV that you maintain it, and ensure any factors you’ve majored on in your profile (hope you’re using keywords in your LinkedIn summary?!) are mirrored in your CV. It’s become more of a personal branding issue I feel, and all revolves around making sure that all of the elements of “brand you” are aligned. Show that you know what you can offer, and you know how to articulate this. Remember, you can also be more ‘personable’ on social than on your CV. Also: please keep your job title relatively basic or close to what you actually do. Avoid the ridiculous job titles, i.e. “Data Ninja.” It will confuse many recruiters.


Innovation can be a huge buzzword, especially with the resume/CV — so let’s keep this simple. Here, I simply mean going into a bit more detail on LinkedIn or About.Me or other sites about how you’ve managed and what results you’ve achieved. The point is differentiation. Someone who only has a one-page paper resume or CV cannot get into that much detail; a robust LinkedIn page, though, can. It helps you stand out more and appear innovative to potential recruiters and hiring managers, even if you were mostly just hitting the deliverables of your specific company.

Recruiters Playing Catch Up

But perhaps recruiters are playing catch up too? In fact, many seemed downright confused by how best to use LinkedIn — and that’s not good. The initial request most often is to “submit your CV” to apply for a particular vacancy, so we have to assume that as well as looking you up on social media, the initial sifting process will be carried out by using the CV, at least for now.

The Future

This is such a difficult one to call. The paper CV as an institution has been around for longer than anyone reading this article, probably. Change is happening though, and I foresee a time relatively soon where the accepted style of job application may be utterly revolutionized. Once one or two big recruiters start to use web-based solutions, others will follow. There will always need to be a CV of sorts of course, and perhaps the big point here is that it may become a virtual document, with clickable links, embedded video, and other visual tools. But don’t ditch that CV for now. I suggest to stay mindful and in tune with what’s happening in recruitment, and stay modestly active in a few LinkedIn groups, even when you’re in that new job. Keeping your finger on the pulse, as they say, is vital in today’s jobs market.

About Steve Nicholls

As a career development coach with over 18 years of career coaching experience, Steve specialises in helping talented senior executives and managers to achieve their full potential and forge meaningful careers. He has built a highly credible reputation as the ‘go to’ career management specialist for professionals worldwide.

Steve is a member of the Career Development Institute, and holds the Post Graduate Diploma in Career Guidance. He uses a focused coaching approach with appropriate challenging that leads to improved motivation, satisfaction and happiness. Aligning personal career satisfaction with life aspects is a balance which Steve appreciates, and he adopts a straightforward, transparent and direct approach.

Steve believes in a collaborative, motivational style of career guidance support and communication. He draws on his diverse professional experience within business, gained across a number of sectors including corporate, public and third sector environments and consultancies.

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