Is a valid CPD record more important than a CV when making important/difficult hiring decisions, e.g. for engineers and/or pilots?

Which do you think is the more important criteria to consider when an organisation is seeking to hire a professional worker,

1)     A historical record of achieving of completing qualification programmes (degree or similar)?

2)     Demonstrable experience in a similar role, over a number of years?

3)     An active Continuous Professional Development (CPD) plan describing the efforts the individual has made to ensure their professional skills and knowledge are current?

Do you have a better option that we have not thought of in this list?

If you would agree with the list which would you place as the highest priority?

What do we think?

Most would agree that all three elements play a part in hiring decisions.  The question is more about the emphasis we give them.

Qualifications are important However, there is good evidence that knowledge degrades over time. I for one will attest to the fact that I remember little of what I learnt in my Physics degree.  In my case historical qualification have had little impact upon my ability to do the job and really should have had little impact upon the decision to hire me.

In some professions a qualification is an important entry qualification, e.g. accountancy, engineering, etc.  However, you could argue that even in these cases as all accountants, etc. need the qualification to operate it is an entry requirement rather than an important selection criterion. As such I would give this the lowest priority.

Work experience is an essential criterion.  However, it is difficult to ascertain if the experience claimed is relevant (transferable to a new workplace) or actually the result of the individual’s efforts. 

The right sort of interviewing can give more insight but there are some issues with recruiting only for experience that include,

  • Seen it before syndrome.  People trying to apply solutions that worked in other environments but might not be suited to the new environment.
  • Getting it done. Inability to deliver because of different teams and networks, e.g. strong teams and networks in previous organisations made up for shortfalls
  • Fish out of water. Difficulty in settling into the new organisation without a complete understanding or fit for the new organisational culture.

For us a proper record of CPD is a much more important guide about the current levels of knowledge and motivation.  Evidence of individual’s efforts to enhance their knowledge and skills in order to be able to be more effective at work is by far the most important selection criteria.  This can/should include insight into the personal growth made through actual work activities. 

If this is properly documented with the individual reflecting upon what they have learnt and how they will use this knowledge to enhance future performance it can be a much better indicator of work experience than a CV.