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The CV is not dead! by Tariq Siraj

It’s hard to remember a time when the traditional CV wasn’t ‘outdated’, when someone somewhere wasn’t trying to disrupt the recruitment market with the latest alternative.

I’ve always been drawn to this idea. While all else around us is driven and updated by the latest technological trends, the great old ‘paper’ CV has stubbornly remained. However, whilst I generally embrace the new and the digital, I am yet to be convinced that a better option exists.

Personalised videos or online pages are the prominent ideas but regardless of whether you find a candidate’s video appealing, wouldn’t you ultimately want to see a CV anyway?

Yes the CV is quite rightly often considered too cold and impersonal – but I wonder if the re-think needs to be around the construction of the CV itself, not the concept as a whole.


Videos are honest…

Many technologies and companies have come and gone which have aimed at revolutionising the talent sector in this way. One example was Vonkel – a start-up based in Manchester founded by Dan Kelsall which closed its doors in October 2017.

Kelsall’s big idea was nothing new; ‘for young people the CV is dead’, and they created an app allowing young candidates to create personal videos or ‘Vonks’ as a way to stand out from the crowd, to search for organisations looking to recruit or support young people in their professional development, to connect with mentors and to start a Q&A session using the inbuilt chat portal.

Vonkel itself didn’t last, but the idea of connecting people with potential employers in more ways and on more platforms than previously possible is a good one. Kelsall was right when he noted that CVs favour both the highly qualified and those with enough experience to be rich in keywords which rules out many – especially the young.

“Videos are honest – young people immediately know whether they could work with that employer, and employers know whether that young person would fit within their culture. It often takes much less than 60 seconds to make that decision, saving time for both parties.”

There’s a lot of truth and a lot of common sense in this – but I stand by the idea that the CV is king. A great video profile can achieve the above, but serves only as a time saver on the lengthy process of setting up a first stage meeting. It can only be an addendum to the CV, not a replacement.


Every CV starts with a blank page…

There is a reason why the traditional CV has endured; it is the most comprehensive yet the most straight-forward, easy-to-digest overview of someone’s experiences, skills and achievements.

Where does it lack? Well, by nature it can be an impersonal document. Maybe it doesn’t represent people in the way they want – but my advice is simply to make it so!

Everyone starts with a blank piece of paper. It can be as personal as you wish it to be.

It should paint your picture, tell your story; not just your grades at school or university, not just your roles and achievements with employers, but also your interests, your motivations, your ambitions and your passions. As long as all the information is there for a reason, is concise and reads well then it should be included.

I wonder if too many people feel restricted by recognised CV conventions? Maybe the disruption needs to be in how people perceive and write a CV, not the use of it completely.


Picture is from

Picture is from

What are the habits of Happy People? by Catriona Cookson

As we head into Spring, longer days, lighter evenings and hopefully some better weather perhaps we’re all feeling a little happier in our outlook? There is no shortage of online articles and information on this topic – some of it is interesting and some of it frankly makes me cringe. I came across this article on my LinkedIn feed last week – it’s not new, but as I read through it, I found myself nodding in agreement.

Have a look here and see what you think……Happiness that lasts is earned through your habits?

Happy Places

What’s the latest on the gender pay gap? by Catriona Cookson

The deadline for gender pay gap reporting is fast approaching at midnight tonight, the 4th April.

Employers with 250 or more workers, which is estimated to be around 9000 companies are required to submit their median and mean gender pay gap figures to the Government Equalities Office. At 7am this morning, 8870 companies had reported their figures, and of those 78% pay men more than women, while 13% pay women more. Just 8% said they had no gender pay gap at all, based on the median measure. You can read the fuller article here.

Many of the figures have been well documented from the individual cases of Claire Foy and Matt Smith in the Crown, Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe at the BBC, to major businesses across a wide variety of sectors with some of the biggest variations seen in the finance and insurance sector. And the Big 4 firms? – well, they have been very transparent and a recent article from the BBC outlines the landscape here.

None of this has will have come as a surprise, but what’s more important is where it goes from here – collecting the data is one thing but long term systemic change is quite another. Let’s watch and see what happens!


Gender Pay Gap

Have you missed the Big Data boat? by Andrew Goodfellow

Any business that is still saying, “Big data isn’t relevant to my company,” is missing the boat.

Big data has far-reaching implications that will affect every single business — from big corporates to one man bands and will have a lasting impact on how firms operate from inside and out.

Companies must have a strategy for big data and a robust plan of how to mine, utilise, and protect it. This also means that smart switched on businesses will start to offer data services to the smallest of companies and the businesses and industries who thought big data wouldn’t be their thing will more than likely now be desperate to catch up. So If you run a business have a read of this article…… it may give your business the “Big Data” jolt it needs.

Andrew Blog

LIFE AFTER 60? by Liz Watt

A highlight of my week last week was attending the Guardian Live event at Sadler’s Wells, in which Guardian journalist Charlotte Higgins was in conversation with Mary Beard, the renowned scholar, classicist and TV presenter, currently on our screens fronting the BBC  TV documentary Civilisations. The event was to discuss  her ‘Life in Classics’ and in  a lively and  wide ranging conversation, one of the biggest cheers of the night came when Beard asserted very positively that rest assured, there was life and opportunity aplenty for women over 60!

Not only did this statement resonate with the women in the audience fast approaching or at this milestone age, but interestingly it’s a sentiment that also resonated with the many younger women in the audience too. As Higgins states in her in depth profile of Beard in the Guardian,  ‘Beard has become the standard-bearer for middle aged women, and beloved by the young – indeed by anyone who wants to be seen in terms of their ideas, not their looks’.  A positive role model to women of all ages is pretty unique and  her late-blossoming career shatters the myth that age is something to be feared, that career highlights can only happen when you are young.

This message is especially encouraging in an age when it is very likely that an individuals’  working  life  is likely to extend beyond the traditional age of retirement.  Financial practicalities, combined with an evolving attitude to  health, well-being, and the opportunities available to those over 60 , means that many women – and men – will continue to work in some shape or form beyond the state pension age.  Mary Beard  is open about the fact that her career hasn’t followed a conventional upward trajectory  –  there  have been diversions and pauses on route –  but these would appear to have simply added to the richness of experience that sees her flourishing in the unforgiving worlds of academia and the  media right now.

This has got to send out a positive message to all those people contemplating the prospect of ‘retirement’ and what that might mean to them. The message is that there is the scope to continue using the expertise and knowledge one has gained in ones professional life, but maybe in a different or hitherto unexplored way.  Maybe part time work, consultancy or using those skills to retrain in another area can provide the space and time to follow other passions, develop new interests, volunteer – the options are many and varied.  And her example of life- long learning and curiosity is surely to be applauded. The key fact seems to be that hitting the age of 60 does not need to mean a closing down of opportunity, but rather the chance to re-frame and reinvigorate ones future path.

So what did I take away from this invigorating exchange of ideas? Well,  it reaffirmed my belief that there is a wealth of possibility for anyone reaching this milestone age;  that contrary to received wisdom, one can still have a successful and rewarding career even if it doesn’t follow a conventional path; that there is ever increasing fluidity between working life and retirement.  And if Mary’s example can not only inspire those in her peer group, but provide a role model to younger women too, then that really is something to celebrate.

I am an Executive Coach with a particular interest in the issues facing those approaching retirement, and also in helping women at significant points of career change. If you would like further information on my FutureLife retirement coaching programme, or would like to discuss how I might help you negotiate career change, please contact me : or on Twitter or Linkedin.


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