The future of recruitment is here, in the form of web CVs. Promoting yourself online 24/7 signals the end of the paper CV, say some. Editor Penny Cottee investigates this new cyber phenomenon
Here's something for all those of you who like to be at the cutting edge - the Web CV. The latest innovation in self-marketing from the States, it allows you to expand on the traditional two-page CV, and to give better exposure to your many talents.
"It's everything a traditional two-page CV isn't," says Geoff Russell, Regional Director for Career World, a management and outplacement specialist which now offers a web CV service. "It's a mini website, which gives you the chance to represent yourself in much more detail, using images, colour, attractive designs and, vitally, more space."
Typically around eight pages long, the web CV uses click-through links to take readers to various sections, such as Career History, Education, etc. One of the big advantages, according to Russell, is the ability to demonstrate your portfolio. "Depending on your work, you can add reports of recent projects, articles you've published, photos of events you've organised, and so on," he explains.
Originally developed by techie types working as contractors in creative and internet jobs - where cyber CVs are simultaneously a delivery mechanism for information, and a powerful demonstration of their skills - a professional online presence is now within reach of even the least IT-minded of us.
Website CV services allow you to work through templates with a wizard, choosing your fonts, designs, and colours, and adding text in Word. "It's extremely straightforward," says Russell. "You don't need any programming or technological knowledge."
You then have a url - for example, www.janesmith/careerworld - for your own personal web CV, which is hosted on the provider's server. Simply give the url to potential employers, and they can view your professional achievements 24/7. A dedicated e-mail response service means that no personal details need be placed online, but recruiters can get in touch immediately if interested. Career World's set-up and hosting service costs just under £120 for 12 months, which includes as many changes to your web CV as you like.
So does the advent of the cyber CV mark the end for the conventional career profile? Absolutely not, says Greg Weido, Manager of Permanent Recruitment for global recruiters Robert Half International. "Whether printed on paper or attached to an e-mail as a Word document, the traditional version is still king," he stresses. "If a candidate approached me with only a cyber CVs, I'd recommend they prepare a standard version right away. As yet, web CVs can be a great add-on, but they are not a replacement."
And it's true that potential employers still like to print out candidates' CVs to peruse at home, or on the train. "If they have nine paper CVs and one web address, it's hard to compare like with like," continues Weido. "And employers still make notes on paper CVs - that's tricky with virtual career profiles."
So, are there different rules for online cvs? Yes and no, say those in the know. Just like traditional CVs, spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc, must be perfect. But you can express your personality with the look of a web CV in a way that's just not possible on paper. However - if you choose to build your own web CV, don't get carried away with design; pink paisley swirls and psychedelic flowers may represent the real you, but if the recruiting HR director doesn't like paisley, you may get discounted instantly. And also, be wary of letting the design rule the web CV - it's rather important that your cyber CV is legible. "Use the same key buzz-words for your skills, experience and achievements as you would on a paper CV," recommends Greg Weido. And despite having unlimited space, resist the urge to tell your whole life story!
The time may come where all CVs are read in cyberspace, but experts agree we're not there yet. As Weido says, "By all means, have a web CV and give the url to potential employers so they can find out more about you. But for the moment, you can't beat a good, strong, two-page CV. And when it comes to the vital issue of securing that interview, you want to screen yourself in, not out."