Job seekers have managed to make order amidst the chaos that is recruitment: identify the HR manager, write a cover letter, send across your resume, and pray. But for freshers, the prayer begins long before they’re done with college.
For most recruiters, the idea of hiring someone without having a look at their resumes is unthinkable, with the likelihood of its acceptance being inversely proportional to the size of the company. They might be open to find a way to replace the interview round with a group discussion, or the technical round with an online assessment tool, but even ruminating replacing resumes, rattles recruiters.
But how accurate are resumes in predicting a candidate’s on-the-job performance?
- Work Ex, or Worthless?
Perusing resumes for internships at Google, General Electric, Amazon, Ogilvy and the like might impress most employers, but doesn’t tell them much about the skills students have acquired. Students interning at startups might get a greater chance to learn, since they would invariably be given more responsibility and accountability than they would at a much larger firm, where even a colossal error could be glossed over with a bit of PR. On the other hand, working at an established company might expose students to a disciplined work culture, where deadlines matter and every project deals with multiple different departments, whereas a startup might demand more time and dedication, without any real results. In addition of course, students, like all other humans, are adaptable, and their performance in Company A can be diametrically opposite to their performance in Company B, simply because the latter had different demands.
Either way however, the question really is, how can employers possibly hope to comprehend all this from a few lines of carefully scripted and sometimes plagiarized content describing employment history? How can a resume accurately tell them what a student is capable of?
Another issue with depending on the presence of big names on to make a resume impressive occurs when employers look for degrees from the Yale’s and Harvard’s and Stanford’s. Yes, admission in these colleges is an achievement in itself, and does prove that a student has a certain set of skills, but what about their competencies? What about how they actually work? Values, work ethic, innovation, creativity and behavioral habits can’t all be read off a one page resume. One student might have studied at a not so popular college and soared, whereas another might have absolutely tanked at being anything but mediocre at the country’s best college. Which one of the two would you rather have join your institution? And which would you actually pick based on their resumes?
Further, some employers even give more weightage to “unpaid internships”, using that an indication of a student’s well placed priorities. But this also has a lot to do with a student’s socio economic background, since some students have to be able to earn enough to sustain themselves through the summer, or the whole school year, while others can afford to do no such thing. More importantly, famous educational institutions demand copious tuition fees that some families might have a better chance of coming up with than others, due to connections, networks and wealth they’ve accumalated over the years. This inequality, dangerously enough, serves the “rich getting richer, poor getting poorer” ideology, but with richness=opportunities.
- Is this Your resume? Or Google’s?
One of the major reasons that employers need to start looking beyond resumes is because of how often they’ve been falsified and exaggerated. Not all of the below are relevant for fresh graduates, unless of course they decide to change that tiny detail. Job applicants fake everything from:
- their grades in school or college, inflated for prestigious companies, and deflated for companies that have a reputation of rejecting freshers if they feel they are ‘over qualified’ and thus more likely to experience job dissatisfaction
- to the duration of their previous job to hide frequent job changes
- the identity of their last employer
- their periods of unemployment, which they term “self employment”
- their achievements, accomplishments and awards, using forged certificates, or recommendations from family members
- their hobbies and interests, to make them seem more rounded as an individual
So, what do you think? Is it preposterous to propose that the importance of resumes in the hiring process be reduced? Or should recruiters begin considering new and improved ways to screen candidates?