What Is the Role of the Resume Today, and What Will It Be Tomorrow? (Part 2 of 3)

role of resumes

Welcome back to our three-part series on the modern role of resumes. In part one, we discussed where resumes came from, their current limitations, and how certain recruiting agencies are beginning to do away with them altogether.

In part two, we’ll attempt to tell the other side of the story, and look at why resumes still have a place within the hiring process of most recruiting organisations – as long as that place is chosen carefully.

In part one we heard from First Step Staffing, an agency that specialises in helping those who would otherwise be locked out of the employment system, and who have chosen to trade resumes for in-person orientations. But most recruiting agencies are simply unable to interview everybody. With millions currently looking for work, and hundreds often applying for a single role, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day.

Happily, this is where resumes continue to be of huge value.

Screening: the modern role of resumes in hiring

The primary role of the modern resume is to screen your pool of candidates and to bring the number down to a manageable level. At that point you can switch to a more human form of hiring, meeting with people, and getting to know them on a deeper and more meaningful level. This screening process, however, needs to be handled with the utmost care.

“Resumes can be a great screening tool,” explains Leslie Vickery, CEO & Founder of ClearEdge Marketing, “but it’s important to know the specific things that they are useful for, and to stick to those areas.”

“Make sure you and your team are aware of your own unconscious biases – everyone has them,” adds Amelia Nickerson, CEO of the aforementioned First Step Staffing. “Challenge yourself to bring someone in who might normally be put in the ‘no’ pile, like the person who has an online degree instead of going to a brick and mortar college. Ask yourself why you’re tempted to label someone a ‘no’ – it helps break down those stereotypes that we can tend to build up in our own minds.”

Ask yourself: does bad grammar actually matter for the position I’m recruiting for? Does a long gap in a candidate’s work history, or the fact that they’ve a succession of short-term jobs, really impact their suitability, particularly if they can provide good reasons why these events happened?

But while it’s important, doing the above only serves to increase the number of people you move onto the next stage of the hiring process. How do you set about screening candidates out, based solely on their resumes, in a responsible way?

How to use resumes to narrow the talent pool

At first, you should narrow in on those things that are absolutely critical: if you’re looking for a fully trained accountant, you can safely place all the candidates who aren’t fully trained accountants in the ‘no’ pile. If you’re hiring for an on-premise position, you can safely remove anyone who lives more than two or three hours away.

The obvious removals taken care of, do a quick Google of the remaining candidates and compare their resume with what you see on the internet. This can count further applicants out if their resume paints a picture that isn’t backed up by their online presence, or if Google presents information that puts them out of the running for whatever reason.

When the time comes to send resumes to your client, always add a narrative. Use your research and any interactions to contextualise the information that they’ll see on the resume, in order to build a more complete picture of the candidate. Ideally you’ll want the client to read this overview first, and you’ll want to lead them to the key areas of the resume. The best recruiters are champions of their candidates, focusing more on their potential than their misgivings.

“Use a resume as an interview guide,” adds Kelly Boykin, Senior Vice President of Global Alliances at Aquent, the world’s largest marketing, digital, and creative recruiting agency. “When I’m later on in the interview process, I like to look at the resume because it helps me understand where a candidate has been, and ask questions about their story. In that capacity, resumes are great things.”

Using tech to enhance the use of resumes

As in seemingly every other aspect of recruitment, tech looks set to play a pivotal role in helping recruiters both reduce their reliance on and enhance their use of resumes moving forward.

If you haven’t already, consider implementing technologies that encourage anonymous or blind (and thus bias-free) recruiting. This is the process of removing all information that could potentially fuel unconscious bias – things like name, age, and college – leaving only the most relevant info behind; the stuff that speaks directly to the candidate’s suitability for the position at hand.

Tools like Pinpoint, Textio, Gender Decoder, and interviewIA all work in this space, and have proven super effective in helping many employers and recruiters attract a more talented and diverse talent pool.

LinkedIn, meanwhile, is becoming many a jobseeker’s proxy resume, as it gives them greater control over their narrative, allowing them to offer a more holistic picture of who they are as a professional. Recruiters and employers are able to see the depth of a candidate’s knowledge, their communication skills, how active they are within their community, and get a sense of their personality all the while.

In a job marketplace that is becoming ever more obsessed with the concept of ‘culture fit’, LinkedIn offers far greater insight into the human than any resume ever did.

This leads us neatly into our final installment in this three-part series – a piece that won’t talk much about resumes at all. We’ll instead be focusing on this concept of ‘culture fit’, and how an employer or recruiter can ensure that a candidate fits the mold, beyond looking at that oh so limited CV.

Subscribe to our Recruitment Blog to stay tuned for part three!

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