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Résumés are garbage, part the second

In a continuation of my “burn your résumé” theme from last month, I remembered a piece of data I read that I found fascinating.

Come with me, on this journey, where we read this chart:

Most to least effective hiring practices

Cool chart, right? Let me help:

Job experience is the least effective factor in hiring

These stats are from a paper highlighted last year by the Harvard Business Review as evidence that personality tests are not effective selection practices for hiring. Sure, but check out what’s even LESS effective than personality tests. Past experience.

Job experience is the lowest ranking factor in effective hiring practices

You may also know “past work history” as:

The entire point of your résumé’s existence.

I’ve, in the past, heard that where you are shouldn’t determine where you should be, but that’s exactly how the job process is designed – “does your past history qualify you to do this work.”

Now, it’s hiring folks’ fault that they’re using really ineffective data on their end at the moment, but at present, this is how many jobs are filled: look at the résumé (for time measured in seconds), and if the buzzwords fit, move forward to the next of n rounds.

If this is the game job seekers play, they. will. lose.

Just because the game is played one way doesn’t mean you can change the game.

A better job hunt is all about shifting the conversation from you trying to be hired by them to looking for mutual fit.

This is why I’m working on writing down all the various work advice I’ve given friends, colleagues, and students in the past in a digestible book form. If you’d like to see this happen, sign up below to be notified when I’ve got a rough cut, or to be contacted for a beta review. Question the way you think of hunting for jobs – and land your next one in record time.

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4 Replies to “Résumés are garbage, part the second”

  1. You say “it’s hiring folks’ fault that they’re using really ineffective data on their end at the moment”, but it’s not entirely their fault. In *Griggs v. Duke Power Co.* (1971) the US Supreme Court ruled that the broad aptitude tests used by Duke had an adverse impact on black applicants for jobs and were impermissible unless directly related to the job duties. If hiring folks don’t use multi-measure ability+personality+interests tests, cognitive ability tests, or personality tests, it’s at least partly because the Supreme Court said that to do so was invidious racial discrimination.

    1. Thanks for mentioning, historical context is important. I’m in no way arguing for multi-measure tests, I found the chart interesting as it offered a data point related to my general “resumes are garbage” stance.

      I think it’s also probably important to say that I don’t care that hiring organizations are bad at their jobs. That’s their problem. What bothers me is how many people are losing a stacked game that they can get better at. Does that in ANY way mean the game is fair or just? No no absolutely dear god completely NOT. But if someone wants a job and playing the cover letter+resume game isn’t working (because it’s garbage), I want to see people succeed.

  2. I would not call resumes and previous jobs useless – the best people we bring are usually people who worked with us before (thus we know what they did at the previous job with us). But recruiters do spam everyone with emails based on keywords from resumes / past experiences.

  3. While I recognize the validity of your points about resumes being useless for picking good employees, I think that telling job seekers to “burn your resume” based on these statistics to be disingenuous at best. The fact of the matter is that 99% of the jobs available out there require a resume in order to even be considered.

    Resumes don’t work for hiring managers or job seekers. But often resumes will get highly-qualified applicants axed out of the process anyway because the first layer of “defense” at the hiring firm is an HR rep or recruiter who has no idea of the significance of what they are reading.

    For example, a firm looking for a web developer might have a resume of someone who has been doing PHP development for 10 years. But they don’t say “web developer” on their resume. Since the HR person doesn’t know what PHP is, they throw out the resume. Before say that couldn’t happen, I can tell you that I’ve seen it first hand — from both sides.

    To get back to the topic: While it might be better for hiring managers to use multi-measure tests to get good candidates and employees, until they do, job seekers are stuck with what we have – resumes.

    We need to get the HR and recruiters who are acting as the gatekeepers a better way to find and administer multi-measure tests so that they don’t need to rely on resumes that they don’t even understand.

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