What’s wrong with Resumes

Resumes can place emphasis on the wrong data for screening. As such, candidate pools get reduced using inappropriate, yet conveniently available data. This makes for an easy query, but not necessarily an effective approach to finding the best candidates.

Resumes have made life difficult: Two Examples: Company A. This company had historically received 500 unsolicited resumes through the mail each year. After putting an “e-mail your resume here” button on their website, they received about 5,000 unsolicited resumes the next year. No changes were made in recruitment advertising.

The unintended consequences of this were resume spam, increased candidate expectations for communication, data storage, and retrieval challenges, and having to create a labor-intensive, manual process to sift through mass numbers of resumes. Company B: This company’s applicant tracking systems (ATS) database averages 1,200 resumes per opening/hire.

Through searching and screening, they discovered that in most cases, only about 15% of the candidates possess the minimum qualifications. The unintended consequences were that the remaining 85% of the resumes place a significant demand on recruiting resources.

Time and dollars are spent dealing with irrelevant data thereby increasing the cost per hire. In addition, this volume of poor fit resumes increased the expense for data storage, placed greater demands on the search engine, and expanded the scope of maintaining the quality and usability of the data.

The current industry response to this issue is to create more complex methods for searching through resumes, rather than changing or eliminating the resume. This has led to developing more sophisticated ways of attempting to discover candidate-job fit, from data that is of little value for predicting job performance.

At a national conference of employment specialists, a VP of Recruiting for a large firm expressed delight in the process called resume cloning. Her example was having the ‘black box’ find perfect resume matches for a long-term valued employee who needed to be replaced. However, what does a resume say about 15 years of context knowledge, collaborative relationships, applied learning, and cross-functional teamwork?

Not much. ATS and Candidate Relationship Management System (CRM) vendors are touting that they can search for and find the needles in the haystack. A more appropriate approach is to build a process that only lets needles into your applicant flow, and then helps you find the best needle. Resumes are a poor vehicle for this model. Grasping New Capabilities Many practitioners are looking for the still elusive silver bullet, but the silver bullet does not exist.

As an alternative, we suggest a multi-method approach, using a combination of screening and assessment to create an objective path for candidate flow and decision support. Screening can be accomplished with standardized, scorable questionnaires on work experience, minimum qualifications, specialist knowledge, and biodata. Knockout factors can help quickly remove those candidates without key qualifications.

Self-scheduling software can advance candidates into an online or proctored assessment session. The science of assessment has been evolving into simulated work samples and virtual job tryouts. These methods can embed situational judgment, reasoning skills, and workstyle preferences to yield a person-job fit score.

Candidates find this approach more engaging and more job relevant than submitting resumes into the black hole of the job posting. Based upon assessment results, recruiters can then invite best–fit candidates into the interview stage. It is at this point that the resume becomes useful and valuable for context to guide the interview.

Case in point, one organization freed up two days per week per recruiter of resume sifting and phone qualifying work by automating the screening and assessment process for one position. The resume was fundamentally removed from the front end of the process and decisions to advance candidates were made on more objective data.

The recruiter did not spend much time with candidates until after they had been through four levels of interactive, two-way information sharing. The quality of hire went up, time to fill went down, and the interview to hire ratio went down. As a result of this change, the recruiter’s job underwent a major transformation.

Recruiters went from administrator: searching, sorting, and phone tag; to community relations: out building the employment brand for better sourcing. They use the resume to guide the interview – a more appropriate place to use it. Now instead of searching for the needles in the haystack, the recruiters are pulling the needle from the pincushion, dealing with fewer, but more qualified candidates.

We Aren’t There Yet While the opportunity exists to embrace new capabilities, practitioners are slow to adapt. As an example, in a survey of recruiting professionals we conducted in 2003, 35% of respondents stated they had an on-line application, yet only 6% stated they had a scorable application.

On the surface this indicates the web and computing power are still grossly underutilized. Merely migrating a paper form to digital completion is not taking advantage of the power offered by the medium. Assumptions Using the resume as the basis for screening assumes that the experiences listed are the predictors of the best candidates.

In fact, experience is proxy data for underlying skills, abilities, and competencies. Experiences listed on resumes are more subjective and less consistent. This data falls prey to the spin document word-smithing all too common in writing resumes. People often question faking on work style or personality profiles, yet rarely cast doubt on wordsmithing and inflating experiences on the resume.

Christian & Timbers published research (2015) indicated 23% of executives had misrepresentations on their resumes. I would bet next week’s paycheck there is more distortion on resumes than on how a candidate responds to a work style profile questionnaire, scorable biodata, and situational judgment questions. Some Anecdotal Points College career centers help with resume wording that increases the likelihood of being found in a resume search.