27 September 2023

Hiring on fire: Five reasons to ignore résumés when recruiting

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David Bernard* says that if your hiring is based purely on résumés, there is a high probability you are making decisions based on lies and exaggerations.

Photo: tommaso79

Most candidates are preselected for an open role using a traditional but not-so-effective method: by screening résumés, checking for the schools they attended, searching for the right keywords, and looking for suitable experience.

After interviewing those who successfully passed this stage, somebody gets hired.

Want to improve this method?

You should think about looking for the human being hidden behind the résumé.

Here are five good reasons to think about switching from a résumé-centric approach to a more personality-centric approach, using personality tests to assess a candidate’s fit and potential to excel in a particular role.

Most résumés are full of BS

In a recent study by staffing firm OfficeTeam, 46 per cent of people acknowledged knowing someone who told lies or exaggerated on their résumé.

This means if you choose to prescreen your candidates based on those résumés, it implies that there is a minimum 46 per cent probability that you will decide who’s going to get an interview (or not) based on lies and exaggerations.

Which industry would accept professional decision-making based on such biased material?

Probably none.

Moreover, there are many articles detailing how to trick the bots that are filtering the résumés once they land in the organisation’s application tracking system.

Résumés tell you nothing about who the person (really) is

Résumés are all about what a person has done in the past.

When the information it contains is correct (let’s say 54 per cent of the time, per the above research), it can be useful to give you a sense of what path that candidate followed.

But it will tell you nothing about who the person really is and even less about the type of person they could become.

Thanks to leadership expert Mark Murphy, we all know that behaviours and attitude can predict job success far more accurately than technical skills and knowledge.

Why would we continue to prescreen candidates based on their hard skills, especially for positions that do not require high technicality?

Have we got to the point that we don’t trust candidates anymore concerning their capacity to learn and grow once they are hired?

Personality can predict more than job success

Personality can tell you a lot about the natural behaviours your candidates are likely to adopt: how they’re going to interact, the way they think, how they manage their emotions.

All that and much more can be uncovered by digging into the personality of your candidates, using a simple 10–12-minute personality test.

A personality test can help you discover if a candidate has the right behaviours to succeed in the job.

But more importantly, it can also give you insights concerning what motivates them on a daily basis.

Using this information, management practices can be adapted to match the candidate’s natural style in a proactive way.

Create more value for the organisation

More employers are switching from a résumé-centric preselection process to a more holistic approach.

For example, let’s look at a big department store that was struggling to contain their attrition rate due to a misalignment of the profiles they hired.

After studying their highest and lowest performers’ characteristics and comparing against their actual sales numbers, they refined an algorithm based on 40 personality and motivational dimensions.

After just one year of use, they dropped their attrition rate from 17 per cent to 9 per cent.

Meanwhile, they increased the revenue generated by their salespeople by 11 per cent, by hiring people who were a 60 per cent or higher match with their predictive model.

Drive more diversity in the workplace

On the candidate side, this approach can also drive unexpected results.

A software company based in Paris recently hired a former Moulin Rouge dancer as an account executive.

Typically, that type of profile would have been dismissed if the SaaS company had deployed a traditional preselection process based on a résumé screening approach.

This year, she exceeded her sales target.

Actually, she is one of the highest performers on her sales team.

The average cost of one bad hire is nearly $15,000, according to a recent survey from CareerBuilder of nearly 4,000 hiring managers and workers.

Taking the résumé out of the process and focusing on discovering which candidates have the right balance of positive attitude, intellectual curiosity, and a willingness to work hard can pay off handsomely over time.

* David Bernard is an occupational psychologist and CEO of AssessFirst.

This article first appeared at www.fastcompany.com/.

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