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Résumé / Curriculum Vitae


Disciplines > Human Resources > Selection > Résumé / Curriculum Vitae

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The résumé (USA) or CV (UK) is a personal summary of an applicant's history that may include:

  • Contact details
  • Summary statement about the person, characterizing them and their ambitions.
  • Experience (usually the main body of the application)
  • Qualifications, both academic and professional
  • Hobbies and other interests

Two common forms of résumé are the functional résumé and the historic résumé. In the functional résumé, the applicant takes a list of particular skills and knowledge and gives evidence of their ability in each item. In the historic resume, they summarize achievements for job positions in historic order (usually with the more recent jobs first).


The résumé is probably the most common tool used in selection, at least in the initial selection process where it is often used as the basis for initial shortlisting (at least for external candidates --- internal selection often does not use the résumé). Care must be taken here, as when there are many candidates, it is easy to 'throw the baby out with the bathwater', filtering out good ones as well as the less desirable ones.

The résumé is a self report and, as such, may be economical with the truth or contain exaggerations and even complete fabrication. Applicants know the importance of their résumé, which may get only a few seconds of attention before is rejected, and so may take inordinate care over their construction. A well-crafted résumé may indicate that the person is careful and skilful. It may also be true that they paid a professional to write it for them. It is also likely that they have thought hard about what to tell you and what not to tell you. A more amateur layout could be less polished but it may also be more naive and honest.

As the first thing that the recruiter sees about a person and also the most common tool used in interviews, it often has a disproportionate effect.

For use in interviews, key aspects that match job criteria may be extracted and used to help probing. If the person is lying in the résumé, you may spot this during the more detailed questioning. You may also follow up with referees (although do remember that these also were selected by the candidate).

CVs are written by the candidate and are intended to show them in their best light and hence are unlikely to include negative elements. The CV may thus be taken as an indicator only, with verification of key items by other methods, such as following-up of references, questioning during interview and testing of skills by a work sample.

Without care, recruiters may easily seduced by subtle elements of the CV that have been shown to have undue effect. For example, when comparing CVs, Impression Management elements such as competency statements (Bright and Hutton, 2000) have been shown to have a positive effect.
The CV itself, even when used with other methods, may have a disproportionate influence on selection (Robertson and Smith, 2001), perhaps due to its familiarity or ready availability (Tversky and Kahneman, 1974).

Deselection on racial and other grounds is illegal, including by CV. There are cases where minority activists have send two CVs to a company, identical apart from racial exaggeration or hiding, and then suing the company when they receive a response only on the non-racial CV.

The candidate is also subject to legislation here: if they lie on their CV and are appointed on these ‘facts’, then this may be grounds for later dismissal. It is even know for people to pass themselves off as doctors and lawyers, faking certificates and other documents.

See also

Application Form

Bright, J.E.H. and Hutton, S. (2000). ‘The impact of competences statements on resumes for short-listing decisions’, International Journal of Selection and Assessment, vol.8, pp.41-53

Robertson, I.T. and Smith, M. (2001). ‘Personnel Selection’, Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, vol.74. no.4, pp.441-72

Tversky, A. and Kahneman, D. (1974). Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases. Science, 185, 1124-1130.


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