How many times have you interviewed a candidate only to find huge discrepancies - either negative or positive - between the information you glean during the interview/assessment/reference check and what you read on their resume? When a candidate outshines their resume, it's a welcome surprise. When they fail to live up to their resume, it's a waste of your time. And then there are the high-caliber candidates who fall through the cracks entirely because their resumes just don't do them justice.
According to a CareerBuilder survey, the majority of employers - 56 percent - have caught a lie on a resume. Commonly embellished information includes:
- Skill sets (62 percent)
- Responsibilities (54 percent)
- Employment dates (39 percent)
By and large, the resume is a dated, static, unreliable document. If ditching the resume requirement has crossed your mind, here are some alternatives to consider.
I knew of an employer who was thisclose to hiring a senior-level developer. He held an equally high-level position at a well-regarded company and his credentials were impeccable. Given the seniority of the role, the employer debated whether asking him to complete a code test.
In the end, the company decided to administer the test. The developer failed miserably. To make sure he understood the assignment, they gave him another chance. Again, his performance was abysmal. This was definitely a case of the resume inadequately representing the candidate's skills (or lack thereof). In the end, it was the assessment that prevented the employer from hiring a developer who couldn't code a lick.
InspireBeats, a lead-generation software company, used to rely on resumes. Recently, though, they've begun to ask candidates to complete tests that allow hiring managers to better evaluate capabilities. With UI/UX roles, they ask candidates to redesign a lackluster website. Sales candidates are asked to identify a vertical and send cold emails; if someone responds, the candidate succeeded.
"Resumes weren't working for us at all," says Alex Berman, InspireBeats' Chief Marketing Officer. "We were measuring all the wrong stuff. Since we've switched to this method, our last four hires have worked out really well."
Candidates have ample opportunity now to showcase their skills and talents digitally, so take advantage of it. Rasheen Carbin, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of job-search app nspHire, says they're moving away from resumes "because they don't accurately reflect a candidate's skills."
In addition to skills-based tests and writing samples, nspHire asks for design portfolios in lieu of resumes. "Community sites like Behance have helped us find these prized job seekers," says Carbin. These resume alternatives not only more accurately reflect candidates' talents, they result in "better-qualified candidates that are also better cultural fits."
Nightlife marketing executive and event producer Louie LaVella says resumes simply detail information that will come out in the interview, anyway. He thinks digital content offers better insight into a candidate. "I feel that everyone is a mini-media company now," he says, "so it's always great to see what type of person they are through their own eyes via their social media and websites."
In addition to an introductory cover letter, he asks that candidates provide examples of their work, "whether professional or even through their lifestyle -- maybe they attend concerts frequently and I can see amazing images on their Instagram. This tells me they 'get' the culture and have the ability to do the work."
A word of warning: social media can be an excellent and perhaps even necessary way of evaluating a candidate (depending on the role), but it's best not to snoop. Keep it above board and avoid putting yourself in a position where an unqualified candidate could hold you liable for their rejection. (Inadvertently coming across pregnancy announcements or evidence of chronic health conditions are distinct possibilities.)
What if you could interview a candidate as soon as they apply? That might be tough to do outside of a job fair or open hiring event, but video applications are the next best thing.
As of late, Frank J. Lopes, Vice President at Forrest & Blake Marketing and Advertising, has been asking candidates to send a short video in which they detail their experience, strengths and weaknesses. "I find I can get a much better look at a candidate with a 60-second video than I can off a traditional resume," he says. "I've given the nod for interviews to many people that I would have passed over had I only read their traditional resume."
The end of resumes? Not quite.
Despite the widespread sentiment that resumes are ineffective, they're such an ingrained part of the hiring system that it's hard to imagine them going away anytime soon. In some industries, they may never go away entirely. Ahmed Elsayyad, CEO of Elsayyad Medical Group, a healthcare consultancy, says that he still requires resumes for initial screens.
"We find it very difficult to skip this step," he says. "While we did consider asking for more dynamic forms of experience, we ultimately decided against it for sourcing purposes. Because in order for us to find well-trained doctors, we find it important to have their education and licensing clearly identified."
At best, the resume is vague; at worst, it's misleading. If there's just no getting around them, make sure not to be overly reliant on them during your screening process. Instead, take the time to create a focused application which is specifically designed to evaluate whether or not a candidate has the skills and characteristics you're looking for.