HR & Management

Don't fall for quirky video CVs: Why this tech trend may be a diversity killer

6 min read

23 April 2018

Editorial Director

In a bid to stand out from the crowd, an increasing number of jobseekers are turning to video CVs when applying for work. This risks widening the diversity gap, according to an industry expert.

At a time when technology is taking over the recruitment industry, one entrepreneur believes that fads like video CVs may set businesses back in championing diversity and inclusion.

Tech fads shadow quality candidates

According to Juliet Eccleston, co-founder of AnyGood?, the trend for using the likes of video CVs is further widening the diversity gap.

At the helm of a professional recommendation platform, Eccleston sees a lot of recruitment fads come and go, but video CVs could hinder rather than help businesses find the right talent.

She believes that video CVs potentially alienate those without the resources to develop this content, and creates an unfair advantage for those who find producing videos easy.

Instead, hirers should be more flexible and encourage applications in a format of the candidate’s choice in order to remove any possible bias.

“While in this modern world video content is more widely available and shared on a personal level, there’s a real risk that hirers could be overly-wowed by a video CV, leading to those with the best skills set and cultural fit being overlooked simply due to the format of their submission,” she says.

Unless there is a specific reason for a certain CV style, hirers should be more flexible in their application requirements in order to make it easier for everyone to shine.

Leaning heavily towards one type of preference – such as video content – will only lead to those less comfortable with the style being alienated.

Diversity tech in recruitment

On the other end of the recruitment tech spectrum, the trend for organisations to accept name-blind CVs as a way to combat unconscious biases is also on the up.

According to Biju Menon, the founder of the UK’s first name-blind job marketplace, Nottx.com, one in four professional women in the UK with ‘non-white sounding’ names have changed their names to get a job. The job marketplace estimates approximately 50,300 minorities may have changed their name in the IT and finance sectors alone, of which 28,300 of them are female.

Early last year, the BBC tested this theory outA job seeker with an English-sounding name was offered three times the number of interviews than an applicant with a Muslim name. Even in 2018, name bias is one of the many things holding many people back. Even sharing information like educational background can hinder social mobility, which poses a number of problems for recruiters.

Even with a name-blind CV, there is no guarantee that unconscious biases can be tackled head-on. It may help to secure an interview for an individual who might otherwise have been overlooked, but bias may still play a part at interview stage.

Interviews are inherently subjective, and the bias is often unconscious. For example an employer may ‘feel’ that an individual may not be right for a role, but not know why.

Without going so far as to introduce “blind” interviews, with voice distortion technology, it is unclear how effective name-blinding will be in reducing discrimination in recruitment.

Relevance trumps trends and fads in recruitment

“I wholeheartedly agree that talent sourcing is evolving and will need to continue to do so in the coming years. However, we all need to take a step back and consider just how relevant new tech is within the hiring arena and what impact it will have on diversity levels,” Eccleston adds.

“My view is that in the hunt for a replacement for the CV, the industry has lazily chosen an option which brings in even more opportunity for bias and excludes candidates who would not naturally choose this medium.”

Video CVs can be helpful for those who can’t type

“As a severely physically disabled wheelchair user, typing is very fatiguing, so I like the idea of video CV in theory,” says Sulaiman Khan, founder and chief purpose officer of ThisAbility. “However, in practice the challenge is that I’d still need someone assist with filming and help me upload it onto my laptop so I can edit and send the file.”

“(Video CVs) would be especially useful for those with disabilities and neurodiverse conditions who are the most discriminated against community when job hunting.”

Khan believes that even though video CVs can help people with limited mobility, there’s still a lingering concern of being discriminated against. “I believe that more flexible ways to apply for jobs to match candidates – and, indeed, more flexible working options – are needed by all businesses,” he adds. “I’d be worried about early stage biases in video CVs as well.”

The power of peer reviews and recommendations

Eccleston says what recruiters need to see is a greater use of networks and recommendations in order to create a level playing field for all. “We are all so widely networked now that professionals have the resources to hand to be able to put forward their peers for a role,” she says. “Perhaps, then, future recruitment processes need a more personal peer-to-peer approach with less involvement from the middle-man.”

Related: Don’t fall foul of gender reassignment discrimination like Primark