Is the resume dead?

This article originally appeared in the September 2018 edition of HRM magazine.

Is this recruitment staple past its prime? Skills-based assessments are a better indicator of a candidate’s suitability for a role.

Paul D’Arcy, senior vice-president of Indeed, doesn’t mince words when it comes to the future of recruitment and job hunting. The resume should die, he says.

The humble resume, also known in Latin as a curriculum vitae or  CV, was created by none other than Leonardo da Vinci – yes, that one – in 1482.

At the age of 30, da Vinci hand wrote a professional resume to the Duke of Milan that outlined a list of mostly military-related inventions he could create for him – including “mortars”, “catapults” and “big guns”.

Now the resume itself is under a da Vinci-like bombardment.

“Resumes are so full of flaws and problems. They should be replaced by data that reflects what a person really can offer an employer,” says D’Arcy.

What’s wrong with the resume?

For starters, the resume makes it incredibly difficult to assess who would be the best fit for a job, he says.

“A recruiter spends an average of six seconds reviewing a resume to make an initial assessment of whether or not they’re interested in a candidate,” explains D’Arcy, citing Indeed’s own research.

The problem with that is, within those six seconds, recruiters often rely on personal biases.

“They focus on the candidate’s name, their address, the brand names of the employers they worked for, and the schools that the person attended. And when they see something that doesn’t fit their model of what the ideal candidate looks like, they’re very quick to move on and find another candidate. Needless to say, those are very poor indicators.”

Jon Windust, CEO of talent management software specialists Cognology, adds that while candidates may have previous positions listed on their resume, that doesn’t tell you how well they performed in those roles.

“It’s not a very accurate tool,” says Windust.

A new model

“Life is made by the death of others,” da Vinci famously said. Which means that if the resume is dying, skills-based assessments may start thriving.

“Skills-based assessments are typically online tests a candidate takes that will certify and show their range of ability,” says D’Arcy.

“Either general cognitive ability – it will tell how good they are at solving different types of problems – or reveal their personality and the sort of work they might be suited for.”

That means the cream of the crop is immediately identifiable from their results, allowing recruiters to get straight into the interview process without having to sift through resumes.

“The more data you collect on someone’s abilities, personality and job-specific skills, the better you can focus on the candidates who will be the best fit,” says D’Arcy.

“We’re even seeing companies testing their own best employees to see what is most correlated with success in their environment.”

Additionally, extensive research shows some elements of skills-based assessments – but not all – can be reasonably accurate at predicting job performance. Renowned retired American psychology professor Frank Schmidt conducted a meta-analysis of a century’s worth of workplace productivity data.

His findings show that multi-measure tests, cognitive ability and integrity tests have a higher correlation with predicted job performance, while references, personality tests and job experience have the lowest correlation.

Feet in the door

D’Arcy believes the move towards skills-based assessments and data has the power to be transformational for society.

“There has always been this very difficult situation, especially for candidates just out of school, where people say you don’t have the experience for the job,” he says.

“To prove that you can do a job via an assessment allows people to get that first shot.”

That said, while assessments may say one thing, Windust points out that you can’t truly know how someone will behave and operate until they’re onboard.

“So you can verify if someone can perform some task, but you don’t know how they’ll apply that in a work situation. You also don’t know about their ability to grow and adapt to change,” says Windust, whose company uses skills-based assessments in its recruiting process.

Assessing the options

There’s no shortage of skills-based assessment products out there.

For example, job platform Indeed recently launched Indeed Assessments, a free tool (during 2018) that screens candidates for skills in various roles and industries, including sales, technology and customer service.

The company says psychologists designed all the assessments, which can be added to an employer’s Indeed job posting or forwarded directly to job candidates.

Meanwhile, Windust says that by using Cognology’s Agile Performance Management System, organisations can profile the technical and behavioural skills of every employee in their organisation.

“Using our Talent Profiling solution you can identify people with potential. So, not just those capable now, but those with the potential to be capable,” says Windust.

Coexisting methods

Not everyone is convinced the death knell for resumes is nigh, including Nick Deligiannis, managing director of Hays.

“CVs are not dead,” says Deligiannis, “but they are also no longer the sole method of reaching potential employers.”

Deligiannis believes that, going forward, rather than being handed in as job applications, resumes will evolve to be an online presence. Think LinkedIn.

“An online presence is just as important as a CV given that recruiters and employers are using digital technology and data science to find suitable talent,” says Deligiannis.

He says this means recruiters can now proactively find and engage talent rather than passively wait for the right applicant to apply.

“We can use digital technology and data science analytics to reach deep into candidate pools to prepare shortlists of the most suitable people, extrapolate meaningful patterns and gauge how open to new job opportunities a potential candidate is.”

And as D’Arcy points out, there are now libraries of tests out there that are specific to different jobs.

Essentially, this means that skills-based assessment results could be posted to an online resume in advance, allowing recruiters to search and filter candidates based on assessment results.

Windust adds: “For job seekers, this means they get to compete on what they can do, rather than how well they can talk about themselves.”

And for recruiters, Windust says it will give them the chance to “find some hidden gems in the process”.

Career Money Life’s Career Transition Program offers a wide range of services including resume and review, LinkedIn and social media optimisation, career competency assessments, career coaching, job search training and more. Help your employees land on their feet – talk to us to find out more. 

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