The Resume.

Perhaps the most outdated of any items in the entire hiring process is still one of the biggest: the resume.

There are a lot of things about the workplace that have fallen out-of-date. Typewriters, fax machines, manual filing. Most of these items have been replaced with better versions of themselves — computers, email, cloud storage.

Yet, when it comes to how we hire employees — the most important part of any organization — many of our tools and processes remain stagnant.

Perhaps the most outdated of any items in the entire hiring process is still one of the biggest: the resume.

Resumes used to be the only way to understand a candidate’s skills, qualifications and experience outside of an in-person interview. They were a screening tool used by organizations when most industries and positions were looking for a very standard set of criteria.

However, things have changed. We know more about what makes a great employee. There are different and more advanced techniques for screening candidates and new and different ways to hire talent. And resumes are simply no longer an efficient way to understand those factors about a person.

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If you need to proof to convince your team to drop resumes all together, check out our list below the top reasons why resumes are inarguably useless in today’s hiring environment:

Chemistry is More Important than Skill

Most HR professionals are familiar with the cost of bad hire. The average employee exit costs 33% of their annual salary, and that’s not considering the amount of time waste involved.

But what makes a bad hire? If the skills and qualifications that were listed on their resume match the job description, then why do 46% of new hires fail within 18 months?

A recent landmark study done by Leadership IQ found that the number one reason for failure in new hires wasn’t anything to do with their abilities on the job. It was a poor attitude or poor chemistry with their new teams. The study found that attitude drove 89% of hiring failures, while technical skills account for only 11%!

Armed with this type of knowledge, it can be understood why a candidate’s resume can tell you very little about whether or not they’ll make a good employee. It’s chemistry, personality, and culture fit that truly make the difference.  

HR is Unfamiliar with Most Industry-Specific Terms Used on Resumes

Let’s imagine you’re an HR professional looking to hire a software developer. Odds are, you’re pretty unfamiliar with things like coding, programming or development. So, when it comes to screening their resumes, there may not be much beneficial information available to you. Sure, there may be a few terms you are on the lookout for, but if you can’t understand them in context, you’ll be missing half the picture.

This is the issue with using resumes in the hiring process.

Many times, candidates will use terms, names, or industry speak that’s common for their industry, but not known by HR professionals. You may miss a nugget of gold on a candidate’s resume simply because you can’t understand what it means. Or you may favor a lesser candidate just because they’ve included a lot of industry buzzwords on their resume.

Resumes Can’t Capture Potential

Author and executive search expert, Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, stated in a recent interview that after 30 years of evaluating and tracking executives and studying the factors in their performance, he considers potential to be the most important predictor of success at all levels.

But it’s impossible to understand a candidate’s entire story from a one or two-page resume. Unfortunately, all the factors that lead candidates from one position to the next are vital to understand, yet simply not captured. Said another way, resumes cannot communicate potential. 

For example, let’s say you get a resume from a great potential candidate. However, their resume states they’ve been in the same mid-level position for going on 15 years. Since this constitutes a ‘red flag’ for your HR team, you bypass their application.

However, what if this candidate has had their potential stifled by a political workplace plagued with favoritism? Perhaps they’ve been passed up internally for several promotions that have gone to their manager’s friends. Again, this would be another loss that could have been prevented if not for the reliance on resumes.

Resumes Are Terrible at Communicating Qualification

So far, we’ve explored how resumes aren’t effective at communicating chemistry and potential. But in reality, they’re not all that great at communicating qualifications either!

Because resumes are usually very condensed, trying to gather a candidate’s skill level from them is extremely difficult.

For example, let’s say you’re looking for a candidate who is an expert in Adobe design programs. You may see on a candidate’s resume that they have each Adobe program listed under skills. However, those skills could novice, and you’d waste an interview slot finding that out.

You might also see on a resume that someone has held a management position for the past five years. However, that doesn’t mean they’re a great manager!

Resumes are Tedious and Time Consuming to Review

During a time in our professional lives when efficiency is everything, reviewing resumes can be a real setback.

Oftentimes, whatever is listed on a candidate’s resume can be better understood in a five-minute conversation with them. However, even the most seasoned HR professionals can end up spending 20 to 30 minutes on a single resume, trying to look for red flags, understand nuances, and look for key skills.

There are other recruiting and interviewing techniques that have proved to be far more efficient for hiring success. For example, group interviews, letters of recommendation, or a simple quick phone call can help HR professionals qualify and disqualify candidates much more quickly— and much more accurately.

Many of Today’s Resumes aren’t Even Written by the Candidate

If you’re using a candidate’s resume to gauge things such as their writing skills, their ability to follow direction or their attention to detail, it may be in vain. Resume writing services have grown in popularity over the last decade, leading to an increase in the number of resumes that were not explicitly written by candidates.

Sadly, this could mean your candidates with the most impressive resumes could be your least impressive employee.

Resumes Can Lead to A Lot of Unwarranted Disqualifications

Some of the old ‘resume review guidelines’ are a surefire way to disqualify good candidates.

We’ve heard stories of incredibly successful professionals who were denied jobs due to a missing comma on a resume. That’s nuts! These people could have made incredible hires, but an outdated document and faulty process cost them (and the company who could have hired them) big time.

Don’t fall prey to bad resume review guidelines. Maybe the candidate with a gap in his resume was a military spouse who had to move with his service member. He’s loyal. Perhaps the applicant who chose to stay in a lower-level position for a while was taking care of a sick loved one. She’s selfless. These traits could be seen as favorable by HR departments if not for being disqualified over a resume that didn’t tell the whole story.

There are Just New and Better Ways to Screen Candidates

Like we said, most workplace technologies have been replaced by new and better advances. And it’s time that resumes meet the same fate.  

We are in an age where we have access to an almost (full history) of a candidate’s work life, personality, and innermost thoughts. It’s called social media, and it’s an incredible tool for really understanding your candidate as a person, and how they’ll fit into your organization.

Sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter give us an inside look into how a candidate thinks, communicates, and interacts with others. It gives us a good sense of their personality and values. And all of these things can tell us more about whether or not they’ll be a successful employee at our organization than a simple resume ever could.

But perhaps one of the greatest ways to truly understand if a potential candidate is a good fit, is to just try them out in the role!

Ditch the Resume, Try a Trial-Hire

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