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RIP, resume

September 13, 2018

By Shannon Reed, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

It’s been the calling card of any job seeker.  From the French origin, résumé, meaning “summary,” Leonardo DiVinci is credited as the first one to use such a document when he was seeking a commission in 1482.  

The summary document, often just notations on scraps of paper, then continued as a collection of work product and skills for roughly 450 years before taking further form in the early 1900’s. The first employment ad ever encouraging an applicant to apply to a job using a resume was in 1926.  Then, it was commonplace to see height, weight, marital status, and religious preferences clearly outlined in the document. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that the content was formalized to become what it is today: a first look at a person’s employment history and reported skills.

Since the 1970’s resumes have been used to open or shut doors between a candidate and the employer.  Since 2012, researchers have declared that the typical resume nets a mere six seconds of a traditional recruiter’s attention before a decision is made about the document; and therefore, the fate of the candidate it represents. Six seconds!

If we are honest, resumes do a horrible job of tying a candidate’s true ability to a job requirement.  Due to the standardization of the document, including the all-important key words designed to catch the lasered algorithms of applicant tracking systems, we catch merely a sound byte of the necessary data needed to make an informed decision about the person on paper.  And let’s remember that while we are no longer posting religious preferences and height and weight, resumes do tell tales that unwittingly create bias in the minds of those reviewing the document.  

Recognizing that job seeker and job provider dynamics have shifted, those leading some of the most interesting advances in talent acquisition technology are all singing the same chorus, “The resume, as we know it, is dying and nobody is going to mourn at the funeral.” Startups like Squarepeg have capitalized on combining the application process with soft skills identification.  GapJumpers takes a cleansing approach by administering employment tests up front and scoring them to match the job criteria, void of ANY personally identifiable information, including where an applicant worked or what gender they are. The end result, much smaller but more effective talent pools.

Unilever was among the first large companies to dismiss resumes as a standard obligation for their entry level opportunities for recent college grads.  With over 30,000 applicants each year, the burden of administrative review alone was worth the risk of replacing the resume with game like assessments, video interviews, and personal problem solving exercises.  

Lazslo Bock, the former head of HR for Google, states, “There’s 4 billion people on the planet who want to work.  What will eventually get built is a system that understands them as individuals. Then you won’t need a resume, and you won’t need to apply to anything.” With that reality in mind, the death of the resume dictates a need for talent acquisition professionals to expand their skill sets into human capital swim lanes and master each wave of new technology that comes along. Not doing so will likely result in the end of talent acquisition as a strategic function and valued business partner. 

Sources: “Quartz at Work,” Oliver Stayley, 10/18/18; “Six Thing to Consider When Hiring an Executive Search Firm,” Ken Vancine, former President and Founder of ZRG Partners, Inc.; “How to Get Your Resume Noiced in the Blink of an Eye,” Lindsay Zahn, Wikepedia

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