"The resume is dead."
You’ve probably heard this everywhere - from the article describing the crazy things job-seekers use as alternative to showcase their talent, to the LinkedIn post calling the resume a hard-to-kill zombie - the resume is definitely not the relied-upon screening tool it once was.
So, why have resumes become the recruiting world's worst enemy?
1. Resumes often have little to no credibility.
To start, the advice that job seekers are given to “tailor their resume to each job” often means that an applicant’s resume is stretching the truth a little bit. As a job-seeker, you’ve probably taken the advice to create a new resume for each job you apply to.
If, in doing this, you happened to say your office coordinator position was leadership experience, you’re not alone. HireRight, an employment background check provider, found that 85% of resumes contain either misrepresentations or outright lies. That's a pretty frustrating number - for job seekers and employers alike.
Unfortunately, recruiters know this better than anyone. As a recruiter, you have to know how to spot the most common resume lies (and methods to skirt them) by heart. It's stressful to employees to lie on their resumes for fear that they'll get caught, but it's even more stressful for recruiters, and there's nothing worse than a bad hire.
2. Resumes don't provide a complete picture of the candidate.
I’m sure you’ve heard that the average time spent scanning one resume is just six seconds. That quick scan is now typically done even faster, and by software that doesn’t get tired or miss anything important in the process - known as an ATS (applicant tracking system). ATSs keep applications that come into the hands of employers together, and help recruiters follow-up with candidates as well.
Apart from keywords found in a job title or description, an ATS will use other data such as location, highlighted skills, education information, and any other relevant information provided by the candidate to suggest best matches for an open position.
But can the automation of an ATS really compensate for finding you the right hires? How do you know if all this searching in the background ends up eliminating unique diverse top talent? Resumes can only tell you so much.
Recruiters are forced to spend an immense amount of time to review candidate profiles, social networks, and go through additional rounds of phone screens in order to get the full story of their candidate. This is why social networks have begun to take over the old school resume.
3. What a candidate says on their resume doesn’t necessarily prove they can do the job.
Even when a candidate’s resume is 100% factual, a laundry list of a candidate’s work history doesn’t say much about whether they will be successful in the job they’re hired for. To the dismay of recruiters everywhere, this is even truer for top talent. The more difficult a job is to fill, the more difficult the candidates are to source. Once those top tier candidates are sourced, there has to be significant effort put into making sure those candidates are adequately screened.
And, truthfully, the resume just won't help in that arduous process. After all - what's on a resume? It's usually a list of work experience with dates, maybe some education, and a list of references you probably won't call. This leaves the job titles and descriptions as the only useful/relevant information on the page (or pdf).
Since the resume is just a laundry list of work experience, it’s obviously not a good measure of a quality candidate. Some recruiters (like at Tesla, Accenture, and LinkedIn) use gamified interview strategies to fully understand a candidate’s capabilities, but others just rely on the candidate’s friends and colleagues to let them know if they’re a good fit.
When someone is hired via referral, the process is faster, easier, and you can almost guarantee the person is who they say they are. The employee referring them usually believes in that candidate 100% - after all, it looks bad on them if they refer someone who turns out to be a bad fit.
A strong employee referral program is a pretty good way to counter both the resume credibility problem (because referred candidates are usually pre-vetted) and the "can this person do the job" problem as well.
So, the resume might not be dead. But it's definitely not as helpful to you as any other method of recruiting, including an employee referral problem. Are we going to see the end of the resume? Probably not. But it's clear that job seekers care much more about resumes than recruiters do, and for good reason. After all, no one wants to sift through a pile (or digital pile) of paper, especially if it won't even increase the hiring pipeline.
Want some alternatives to skimming resumes? Check out Teamable’s guide on referral hiring here.