As someone who interviews, checks references and makes hiring recommendations, I seriously have begun to ask myself why people bother to send resumes. Years ago, before the Internet, advanced HR departments and a surplus of workers (You have seen the recent unemployment figures, right?), resumes may have been the best way to determine if an applicant is right for the job, but no more. Further, any manager, recruiter, or supervisor who uses a resume for anything more than a pre-screener should have his or her credentials questioned as well, for doing so increases the chance that the wrong applicant will be hired and opens the organization up to lawsuits.
The first reason I refuse to depend on resumes is the simple assertion that, to paraphrase Dr. Gregory House on Fox's television series, "House": everyone lies.
"The percentage of people who lie to potential employers is substantial, says Sunny Bates, CEO of New York-based executive recruitment firm Sunny Bates Associates. She estimates that 40% of all résumés aren't altogether aboveboard.
And this game of employment Russian roulette is getting riskier and riskier. Almost 40% of human resources professionals surveyed last year by the Society for Human Resource Management reported they've increased the amount of time they spend checking references over the past three years"
Call me cynical, but I'd say the other 60% just didn't get caught. With the economy going the way that it is, spurring a rise in unemployment, the temptation to lie on a resume increases.
Everyone has heard of negligent firing. Few have heard of negligent hiring, but it's becoming more prevalent. This is when an employer uses faulty information or who poorly vets applicants to the point that someone who is a danger to others is hired. Employees have brought up negligent hiring charges when other employees have gone on rampages, hurt other employees or engaged in sexual harassment, and a more thorough vetting process was not used. Basing a hiring decision on a self-promotional document, such as a resume, is the act of an amateur.
Internal Hiring Processes are Better in Identifying Good Employees
With technological advances and legal ramifications, companies are using company-specific hiring processes more and more. Using specialized employment applications that have various disclaimers, releases to do background checks, consequences for lying, and waivers to keep references confidential, more companies want their own documents used for applicants to place their credentials for reference checkers. Between a good HR department that knows how to vet an applicant and supervisors who are trained to do detailed reference checks, a resume pales in comparison in identifying great prospective employees.
In my "industry", which is education, a typical applicant vetting scenario goes like this:
- The administrator receives a resume, which is simply used as an indicator of interest. It has no relevance in the hiring process, because the receiving administrator simply notifies the applicant to contact the district office to follow the official procedure.
- The applicant completes the required application and an on-line screening questionnaire.
- The HR department vets the applicant for proper credentials and includes verifying education degrees, grade point averages, Praxis scores (a standardized test to used to determine job-readiness), and state certification. References are to be received on district-provided reference sheets that ask education-specific questions. The on-line screening questionnaire is also checked.
- A criminal background check is done. The check can span the last 10 years or more depending on the individual.
- If the applicant qualifies on the above, a structured interview is scheduled. The interview is either audio or video taped. The structured interview guarantees that each applicant is asked the exact same questions and is considered by the same rubric.
- Only after the successful completion of all the above is the applicant placed on a list that building administrators use to choose viable candidates to interview.
- The building administrator interviews a number of candidates and, based on the applicant's interview performance, reference checks are done on the top few to check school/applicant fit.
- Finally, a hiring recommendation is made to HR who handles the final paperwork issues.
One can clearly see that hiring these days is an intense process that can take from days to weeks. In our profession, a resume is simply an indicator of interest; a phone call would have served the same purpose, which would be to be directed to HR and the official employment application.
Interviews and Good Reference Checks Yield the Best Data for a Final Hiring Decision
After HR pre-qualifies the applicants, the process that yields the most useful, yet subjective, data, is the interview and reference checking. An supervisor skilled in those twin processes can find star employees in short order. A good interviewer and reference checker can get much more information about work history, personal initiative, punctuality, company loyalty, and ability to get along with and work with others from a previous supervisor than any applicant can imagine -- or would want.
Another consideration is that a good reference checker is checking your Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and other social media accounts. In a recent article from Charlotte, NC, several teachers were fired due to items found in their social media accounts.
"A Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools teacher faces firing for posting derogatory comments about students on Facebook, while four others have been disciplined for posts involving "poor judgment and bad taste..."
"...'There's an old lawyer's saw that goes something like this: Never put in writing anything that you wouldn't want read in open court or by your mother," concludes the article, written by Michael Simpson of the NEA's legal office. "Maybe it's time for an updated adage: Never put in electronic form anything that you wouldn't want viewed by a million people, including your colleagues, students, and supervisors - and your mother'."
Summing Up the Resume
In my opinion, the resume should only be used as an indicator of interest, a pre-screener. When I receive one, I glance no more than 10 seconds and simply direct the person to our HR department. Despite my opinion, and warnings about them, some companies still welcome resumes. My recommendation is check with the company with which you are considering applying and ask for their preference in whether a resume is required or even welcomed.
For those of you who still want to cover that base, my next installment will be some tips on resumes.