It’s a bold move to ditch CVs in the recruitment process, but Sky is taking the view that who you are matters more than what you know.

On March 15 2022, Marketing Week published an article highlighting a new approach to recruitment being implemented by Sky’s Marketing Director, Dave Stratton.

In the article, Dave explains that Sky is looking for a more diverse array of marketing talent and that, by ditching CVs and asking people to submit short videos as their initial application for a role, they will achieve that aim. They will get a feel for who the candidates are in a way that you can’t by reading a CV.

He talks about the need for people to demonstrate key behaviours (or as we know them to be Character Qualities) such as action-oriented, collaborative and forward-looking.

Sky is one of the ‘mega brands’ in the UK and is notoriously difficult to break into. The competition for roles is huge and the recruitment processes are typically challenging. This makes it all the more fascinating to see them take this alternative approach to recruitment. Not because it is lowering the bar, because it is such a dramatic shift from a brand that can, to some extent, attract whoever it wants. It doesn’t need to compromise to get great talent, people WANT to work for Sky.

The fact that such an organisation is taking a fresh approach and seeking to know WHO someone is beyond their CV demonstrates the pervasive issue that exists in UK Plc (and beyond, we suspect) – that of work-readiness and Character.

It is refreshing to see such a significant player recognising that technical skills are not the be-all and end-all; that who you are and how you behave is equally, if not more, important.

Character matters

At Entelechy we know how much Character matters.

We’ve spent years researching the impact of Character on an individual’s personal and professional life and the effect it can have, when displayed positively, in the workplace.

Our entire business is focused on helping people fulfil their potential by developing the Character Qualities that will make a difference to them, so we are hugely supportive of Sky’s thinking when it comes to recruitment.

This article was shared on our company Slack group and it provoked a few conversations – curious and challenging bunch that we are (they are two very important Character Qualities!). There was general agreement, although there are a couple of elements that we don’t wholeheartedly subscribe to.

First of all, the idea is that this approach will provide a more diverse range of marketing talent. The approach outlined by Dave Stratton suggests that teams will decide who to progress in the recruitment process if they ‘like what they see’.

Potential issues exist here around unconscious, and even conscious, bias. Not just from a demographic perspective but also from a ‘feel’ point of view. People tend to be attracted to others they feel they would get on with – not the primary aim of recruitment.

Another issue surrounds the fact that an individual’s Character is both unique and valuable, be they a flamboyant extrovert or a thoughtful and analytical introvert.

Marketing needs creatives and analysts; it needs expressive and grounded listeners. There is some concern as to whether or not this approach could lead to a less diverse cadre of marketers, more of a homogenised group of extroverts ready to jump in front of a camera at any opportunity!

We exaggerate to make a point, but recognising and understanding people’s Character and the benefits each and every trait brings to a diverse and high performing team is vital and more nuanced than this approach from Sky may allow for.

The second point, and the one we disagree most strongly with, is the view from Dave Stratton that “passion and grit cannot be taught but marketing skills can.”

We don’t disagree that Marketing skills, or indeed any other technical skills can’t be taught, or even that they aren’t easier to develop than Character Qualities. We do, however, disagree that determination and grit can’t be taught – like all other Character Qualities.

Our years of research and more than a century of combined experience in education, coaching, mentoring and L&D has proven to us that who someone is can 100% be developed. It is not set in stone at birth, or even at the age of 18, 30 or 90. How depressing would life be if we looked in the mirror on our 18th birthday and said ‘right, that’s me done. There’s no point in trying to improve, I’m as good as I’m ever going to be’?

Doesn’t sound so good, does it?

Through years of coaching and mentoring, we have helped people develop who they are, helping them become more resilient, committed, collaborative, kind, courageous and curious – and so much more.

The premise that people’s Character and behaviours cannot be developed is also shown to be untrue through notable examples such as Nicky Cruz, Alice Cooper and St Paul (if you believe in such things).

The ability to develop who you are sits at the heart of any organisation committed to growth. Retention and development of people goes far beyond technical skills such as coding, building spreadsheets and designing a car engine. Most employers want to retain their staff, and see them grow as impactful and productive individuals. And that’s where we can help.