The fault in resumes and smarter alternatives to them

It was one of those Friday evenings when all I’d want to do is laze on a couch in a cafe with a friend and watch the match over...

It was one of those Friday evenings when all I’d want to do is laze on a couch in a cafe with a friend and watch the match over a couple of drinks. The friend is my regular companion and even the people at the cafe have started recognizing us; not because we are regular visitors but because my friend who is an HR manager at a reputed firm would start  his rants about the vacant positions that needs to filled and the resumes he was receiving .

But, this day was different, it was a dry day and we chose to go with just soft drinks and some snacks. Conversations were around the match and they were fun too with witty anecdotes from my friend flowing in intermittently. We were however interrupted when my friend caught sight of a person who sat on a table right across the room. “Do you see that man in the gray t-shirt there?” asked my friend; but without waiting for a response, carried on, “ he has one of the most impressive resumes I have come across till date. He has amazing qualifications and experience as a senior level JAVA developer in many good companies. We interviewed him for a senior developer position 2 weeks ago”. I was impressed, and asked,”So, when is he joining?” I was shocked to learn that they hadn’t hired him and it was because they had him undergo a competency assessment that he failed at even in 2 attempts. It made me think if there can be so much discrepancy between what the resume shows and the truth, but then, that is what bad hiring decisions begin with.

There are several cons to this flawed resume bottleneck in hiring:

  • Wasting time or bad hiring decisions due to the invisibility of deserving candidates because their resumes aren’t flashy enough: Resumes fail to portray the real picture majorly because they are self-narrated accounts by the candidates, who would definitely hide the negatives and magnify the historical achievements and career highlights.According to surveys, as high as 80% of resumes contain information that is misleading and a survey by CareerBuilder even unveils that about 58% employers have caught actual lies in terms of salary, job title, tenure etc.

One may argue that reference checks may go a long way in eliminating such candidates and filtering the genuine ones; but if practices are to be adhered to, reference checks are usually carried out at the end of the entire recruitment process and by then most of the genuine candidates are already eliminated because they haven’t doctored their resumes. Even if the genuine candidates pass the initial stages, it is still a waste of time for the recruiters to have reached that stage with some candidates who aren’t even worth it.Graph

  • Resumes are a past account and not a statement of what the candidate plans for the future of your company: Even if a resume at hand is accurate, it is still a description of what has been accomplished in the past. The needs of your company may be absolutely different from what the candidate has accomplished in the past. Whereas an account of the past achievements is not absolutely worthless, it is still a step behind in showing you what you are really looking for.
  • There isn’t a fixed format for a resume: The absence of a fixed resume format makes some applicants have an unfair advantage over the others. Candidates explicitly searching for jobs usually have an idea of the keywords that the amateur job hunters are unaware of and hence, stand a lesser chance of being shortlisted by the ATS systems.
  • Language skills impact the first impression: First impression being the last impression has already been emphasized enough. The first impression conveyed by the resume is often impacted by writing skills and it is definitely not wise to judge someone entirely based on their writing skills.

While resumes are definitely failing to achieve the desired objective, there are other smarter alternatives that aid hiring decisions:

  • Competency analysis: It is a great idea to conduct pre-employment tests or skill analysis prior to carrying out the general personal interview with the candidates because it gives a prior idea of skills, cognitive ability etc. Just as in the case of the person I saw at the cafe the other day, a simple assessment test provided an insight into his competence for the current job role.

Assessments actually show you what really is required. At HackerEarth for instance, our hiring efforts involve a test of programming skills, following which the candidates are shortlisting for interviews. This also gives an equal opportunity to the candidates to prove their mettle in what they are good at.

  • Portfolios: A portfolio is a set of documents or past work records that showcase the skills of the candidate. If a recruiter is on a hunt for a designer or maybe a writer, a detailed portfolio of the candidate’s work that highlights the designs or write-ups by the candidate is a better way of assessing them, than just a document that says they have 3 years experience in designing or writing. It is also a great way of analysing if the style of the candidate aligns with the goals of the position that you are looking to hire for.
  • Open Houses: Another creative way of analysing the candidates on the basis of initiative and group interaction skills is conducting group events like an open house etc. An article by Wall street Journal states that many of the candidates who applies don’t turn up for the event and hence simplifies the task of shortlisting for the recruiter. They are also a great tool to analyse the group behavior of an employee.
  • Psychographic information: Psychographics is the study of personality, lifestyle, attitudes etc that helps in the analysis of how a person is likely to interact with others. This can be achieved through analysis on social media, during interviews, by conducting expert designed tests etc. Recruiters may also ask for short videos of candidates and get an idea of their attitude, body language, communication skills etc.
  • Searching talent in unusual places: With too much emphasis on qualifications and experience, it is often ignored that skills can be imparted but passion is inherent. Many recruiters are now adopting new ways of judging the capabilities and keenness of employees to perform the jobs. For example Quicken loans once conducted a drive wherein employees were sent out to interact with workers of stores, food joints etc and job offers were rolled out to those who looked really keen and promising about their job. It is definitely one thing to mention your passion about work in your resume and absolutely different to portray it at work.

Have resumes become completely obsolete?
There has been much hue and cry about the ineffectiveness of resumes but they are still far from being completely obsolete as they are ingrained deep into our hiring systems and are still the primary source of information, however relying too much on them isn’t a very good idea. They may just be used as initial reckoners to verify the basic qualifications required for a job.

The latest trend involves employers relying heavily on digital platforms like LinkedIn to get an idea about qualifications etc, however that approach is also consumed by flaws of traditional resumes, such as lies and hiding critical information.

It is a great idea to adopt new and creative ways of hiring ,so the process is comprehensive and fun and can save you from some very expensive mistakes. Hiring decisions are critical, it is wise to review the process at pace with the dynamics of the industry.

Not relying too much on resumes is definitely one way to avoid common hiring mistakes and there are other ways to hire better, they can be accessed here.

Looking to conduct online coding tests to hire developers for your organization? Try HackerEarth Recruit free for 14 days to start creating tests for your candidates right away.


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