Is the resume dead? Depends on who you ask.
Talk to any recruiter, and it’s likely they still depend on resumes — even if they wish they didn’t, as some experts told HR Dive. These (sometimes digital) pages remain a staple of the process in part because applicant tracking systems still require them in some form, and client employers still consider them the standard by which to evaluate and sort through applicants.
Yet those same recruiters and employers already look beyond what the resume provides. Recruiters can look into social media accounts, personal blogs and online portfolios for a snapshot of a candidate just as easily as they can skim a resume.
“Resumes are dead,” Carisa Miklusak, CEO and co-founder of tilr, told HR Dive, especially for some parts of the new workforce. Unfortunately, this isn’t a new story in HR. Recruiters have tried to kill the resume for years now, and still, reports of its death remain somewhat exaggerated.
But will a new focus on machine learning and algorithms, in combination with a more personal approach, sound its final death knell?
Why the resume is dying — still
As workplaces focus on employee engagement — and increasingly, becoming a workplace that welcomes the humanity of its workers — employers want to see a snapshot of an actual human person.
“Resumes are a point in time and not reflective of the human,” Penny Queller, SVP and GM of Monster’s staffing business unit, told HR Dive. “There’s nothing on a resume that demonstrates the individual’s aspirational self. It’s a primitive artifact in some regards.”
Miklusak agrees, saying resumes are "a very static presentation of who you are.”
One of the biggest flaws of a resume may also be why it has persisted for so many years: it is a history of a person’s work shortened into a page or two. Ankit Somani, co-founder of AllyO, spoke of two kinds of resume, one being that “history of stuff you have done” that you update when called to do so. The other is harder to capture — the footprints an employee may leave on projects and in the world, generally. A real snapshot of how a person works.
“A lot of the companies we work with, we’re finding that [the resume] has become more like a data collection exercise, not a decision-maker exercise,” Somani said. “If I’m seeking someone in a role, I have 10 questions in mind. Answering those questions tells me much more.”
Demands for workplaces to remain agile, however, put pressures on recruiters to take a look at these real humans at fast speeds. While falling back on the resume may seem like an easy solution for now, it’s become a real barrier of entry to certain segments of a burgeoning workforce — notably gig workers.
“There are people in the new generation that don’t even have one,” Miklusak said of resumes, “even great workers. It has become a barrier for entry.”
Will video make a comeback?
To tear down those barriers, Queller wants to bring the focus back to humanity. And to her team, the solution is video and voice.
“It’s no secret, the generations coming into the workforce are voice and video enabled,” she said. “It pains me when I see the fresher generations agonizing over a resume.”
To Queller, video can help both employees and recruiters cut through the noise, as it immediately feels like a more personal experience than first learning about someone through lines on a paper. While employees sending in video resumes or answers to pre-packaged interview questions is not exactly a new innovation in the space, Queller also imagines recruiters using the medium to their advantage, perhaps replacing voicemail in some respects.
“As recruiters, we have to leave voicemails all the time, so that exercise turns about, if you are lucky, a 20% return,” she said, speaking of her experience with the medium. “But if you are a manager or recruiter who does a 40 second video with your face, that immediately takes the response up to 50%.”
This “super human” take on recruiting is a bit of a pendulum shift for an industry that has taken the opposite tack to erase unconscious bias and ease diversity hiring issues up front. Many companies have decided to erase the names and addresses of applicants on their resumes — dehumanizing people for ease of consumption and improved access on both sides. Queller says that a more personal experience on both sides could lead to better understanding of candidates from all backgrounds.
Use of video is still somewhat controversial, however, on the candidate side. Miklusak said she prefers the front-end filters, like name erasure, to prevent discrimination and unconscious bias upfront.
“It’s more difficult for me today to support video as a full replacement format for resumes,” she said. “I think it is a great practice one-off, though.”
Generally, with more personalized takes on recruitment, hiring managers have to carefully walk the “fine line between personalization and bias,” Somani said. All platforms have their pluses and minuses. With a more personalized experience, recruiters must be careful the platform doesn’t allow them to take things into account that shouldn’t really be taken into account during the hiring process.
What's old is new again
With more sophisticated technology at the ready, the industry is primed to try other techniques for resume replacement or, at least, resume transformation. The skills gap — exaggerated by poor talent searching tools, according to Miklusak — has placed great pressure on employers to up their search game, and resumes aren’t making the hunt any easier, she said.
Ironically, the skills gap has pushed for recruiters to focus on just that — skills, rather than titles or specific job experience. Lumped skills portions of resumes have returned as a way for potential employees to put themselves at the top of recruiters’ lists. Efficiency, rather than title, is attractive.
“You may not want to reveal you have been a waiter for six years, but you have customer service skills, so you want to pull that out,” Miklusak said.
Resumes as they stand are “built on the old currency of the workforce,” she added. In this agile business environment, employers have to seek out who is poised to do the job and who has the right skills, rather than focus on who a person was in the past.
Is the future in algorithms?
For businesses to better grasp their talent strategy, more hiring managers and HR execs will need to have a keen understanding of the skillset of every individual in their organizations so that talent can be allocated appropriately.
To execute that pretty intense demand, some have turned to algorithms, Miklusak said. A well-created algorithm based upon your company’s already existing talent framework can make decisions on candidates for you, depending on what is needed. The technology is still developing, and naturally has some potential potholes (including accidental discrimination) if not built appropriately.
But as the technology improves, recruiters are going to have to get more comfortable being proactive and reaching out where people live, Somani said. How do you find people who are ready for a certain job, but haven’t been able to prove that yet?
“I think the challenge they need to solve for is that every tool has a different way to approach, and with that, will increase admin cost in some sense,” he added. In other words, no matter what tool is touted as the next big thing, it will have its own set of challenges. The resume's days, however, are likely numbered.