The Resume Must Die
Resumes are pointless. We use them to find employment, but we should not. We should throw them in the trash. We should not even bother creating them.
Typically, a resume is up to two pages long. In it, we present a summary of two types of information: professional experience and educational background. There may be other headings in a resume, such as Skills or Interests, but they are meaningless. The fact that I enjoy playing tennis cannot get me a job.
Similarly to the summary of skills and interests, the list of employment history and school degrees is useless information. Who cares what I did seven years ago, or three years ago? I had a job that was specific to a company. Since no two companies are the same, trying to foresee from my resume how I will perform at a hiring company, even one in the same industry as my previous employer, is pointless.
First, I am not the same person from the person who worked at that company three or seven years ago. I have changed. I am older. I have matured as a person, learned a few more life lessons, and improved my skills, both personal and professional. Even if I did not get better at what I do for a living, I know a bit more about life than I did three or seven years ago.
Second, my educational background does not matter. The degrees I have listed in my resume mean nothing unless I can prove that I can do what I claim to do. The fact that I went to an Ivy League university or some community college does not reveal much about me. The only thing it reveals is that I received college education. It says nothing about how smart, or skillful, or knowledgeable I am.
Therefore, reading a resume today is like reading the specs of a car from three or seven years ago and trying to decide whether to buy the new model of the same car. No sane person would do that. Yet, HR managers and corporate recruiters do this every day and get paid for it.
Individuals put in a great deal of effort in finding a job. They send hundreds of resumes and hope for a positive response. But if the tool used to find a job is useless, the whole employment search process becomes meaningless. In the end, we have wasted days, if not weeks, for nothing. This is time we cannot get back.
The solution to the hiring process is simple: Trust the job applicant. Companies in general and HR managers in particular must trust that an individual will not apply for a job without some qualifications. No resume. No cover letter. A job application is all an HR manager needs.
The second step in the hiring process should be an interview. All job candidates must be interviewed in person by a panel of company representatives. Hiring employees based on the subjective opinion of a single HR manager is as flawed a hiring process as it can get.
Based on the first interview, which should be broad, yet job-related, a final group of three to five job candidates is selected. During a second interview, each of these candidates is given a specific work scenario, or a task, to work on. This should not be a puzzle to solve, but a situation that would reveal a candidate’s job-related competencies, thinking, and personality. After the second round of interviews, one candidate is selected for the job.
In this way, the job market becomes a level playing field. This will drastically increase the diversity of applicants for a job. Recent college graduates and more experienced professionals will be able to apply for the same vacant position, as there will be no minimum requirements for a job. If I submit an application for a job, the submission should mean that I have either experiential qualifications, educational qualifications, or both for the job. Only a fool would submit a job application without relevant qualifications.
There are two additional positive outcomes of this way of hiring. The first one is that job candidates will meet HR managers at different companies and enlarge their professional network. The second one is that job applicants will be learning during the interview process. They will find out their knowledge gaps, learn how to conduct themselves better in interviews, and get a glimpse of company-specific ways of doing business.
Unfortunately, trusting the job applicant is unfeasible for most companies. To trust means to be open and lower one’s defenses. No company wants to open itself to fake job candidates who show up at interviews only to gather information about the hiring company and then report back to their boss at another company. Thus, trusting job applicants is out of the question.
Enter the resume, the ultimate symbol of distrust between companies and job seekers. It is a document that gives job candidates a false sense of having a useful tool for finding a job. It also gives HR managers and corporate recruiters a false sense of knowing the capabilities and expertise of a job candidate.
The resume must die. The resume will die. In an age where every fact can be instantly verified, the resume is a remnant of times long gone.
In business, as well as in life, we need trust. Trust may be intangible, but it is rooted in openness, lack of fear, and willingness to connect. Without trust, both companies and job seekers are doomed.