I am not a huge fan of resumes. They attempt (poorly in my opinion) to outline a persons self-described accomplishments in only a page (or two). It can take the form of work experience or academic excellence but the biggest problem I find with them is that they do not form a complete picture of the candidate. First, it only tells the employer what they want. It highlights all their “strengths” without giving you any of their weaknesses. It is very one-sided. I understand that is the purpose of the interview, but even that does not really give employers a good idea of a person’s skills or abilities. In the beginning it is almost always the candidate putting their best foot forward and it isn’t until weeks or months have gone by that the true character and skill of an employee comes to light.
Another reason I do not care for resumes is now that most companies use some sort of keyword scanning software, transferable skills are difficult if not impossible to show. There are some positions that having a background in a particular field is important; however there are a lot more that having skills and abilities in one field translate to success in another. There should not have to be a direct one-to-one correlation between experience in one field and success in the same field. If an employee has enough experience in customer service at a bank, why is it so hard to believe that they will have good customer service in a call center. The problem is that a resume without call center experience is not likely to get flagged at all, despite the person could legitimately and successfully do the job. The software makes the Human Resource Manager’s job easier but at what cost?
Looking at this objectively the right candidate is more important than the most qualified. I have spent countless hours working along side the “most qualified” candidates but they were not the right one. For example, a company I worked for hired an applicant based upon her qualifications, the problem was that she was not the right fit for the position. Although she had the technical qualifications she lacked the interpersonal skills that position needed. She was condescending and rude to everyone unless she liked you. She would sit at her desk doing nothing but listening to music (even though it was against the rules) and when she attempted to leave at one point, her manager gave her a promotion to keep her there. Several months later, the employee quit via email without advanced notice.
The position was not a right fit for her but she accepted the job offer and the company thought she would work out. The problem was, that neither of them were honest. She was (perhaps) honest on her resume but I do not believe she was honest about what she was looking for in a position. She was miserable and she took it out on everyone in the office. The company wanted someone who would be happy in that position for years to come. The problem is that when they hired someone who is qualified to do the position, then the employee may or may not see the position as a step up or a opportunity to grow. Consider someone who may not be as “qualified” but they are willing to learn and exceed expectations. An employee that has transferable skills but may not have direct experience (that is excited and happy to be in a position) will be a greater asset to the company than the person who is qualified and miserable.
The problem is, in today’s economy a person who has struggled to find work will often take a job that they are unhappy with because at the end of the day it is a paycheck and they need to eat. However this is bad for both the company and the employee. Eventually this type of scenario will end of hurting both. A company needs to look at the long-term (just as employee should) to make their hiring decisions. They should not be so focused on filling a seat that they fail to get the right person for the job not just the most qualified.
Employers need to take a longer look at someone than just their resume and cover letter. The cost of turnover is too high for them to look at a resume with such brevity. Perhaps most importantly, all resumes should have a disclaimer on them that says “Past performance is not indicative of future returns”. Because in the end what an individual produces today is more important than what they produced ten years ago.