Dig This: The Scavado Blog

The Death of Resumes… Hopefully

It can’t come soon enough: the glorious day when everyone stops making hiring decisions with a one-page resume and a one-hour interview.

The traditional corporate hiring process has been antiquated for years, and we’ve run out of excuses.  Our tools have never been better, and information about candidates has never been more available.  Yet our processes have remained mostly unchanged: we write uninspiring job descriptions, wait for candidates to apply, read their drab cover letters, peruse their trite resumes, and sit them down to talk uninspiringly about themselves.  It’s no wonder the applicants all start to blur together… the HR machine churns out mediocrity.

Let’s put it this way: Would you trust a movie review the Director wrote?  Would you buy a car without test-driving it?  How well do you really know your candidates?

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Unless you have a stellar employment brand, your successes with this decades-old approach are mostly luck.  The resume clearinghouse method does nothing to systematically attract, much less retain, the best and brightest in your industry.  More importantly, it doesn’t create repeatable results that drive value in your organization.

Be honest with yourself: The best candidates aren’t competing for your jobs.  You’re competing for them.

Simply put, HR professionals and hiring managers must change the way they evaluate candidates for their companies to survive.  Seth Godin calls our current economic situation the forever recession.  It sounds grim, but he’s right: only those companies with the best people will be able to compete in a flat, crowded, and global marketplace.

Cultural Fit Above All Else

Online retailer Zappos.com understands the need to build an exceptional workforce.  Sold to Amazon.com a few years ago for nearly $1 billion, Zappos structures its hiring program around cultural fit.  Founder Tony Hsieh recognized that delivering the best service to his customers means hiring engaged employees who care about the company’s mission.  In fact, every new Zappos employee goes through 4 weeks of paid training in the company’s call center to understand how the business operates, and Zappos offers each of them a $2,000 bonus to quit before training ends.

Zappos.com LogoThat’s right: Zappos pays new hires to quit before they’ve even started. This weeds out candidates who aren’t committed to the company and won’t fit well with their dedicated counterparts.  About 10% of trainees take the money, and it’s money well-spent.

The Zappos approach is just one example, and it may not work for every position in every organization, but it does offer important food for thought.  How can you differentiate your hiring process and get a more realistic picture of your applicants?

Lots of great companies provide extensive (paid) training and probationary periods where prospective FTEs get to know their future team members, start to understand the organization’s culture, and become part of a talent community that can be nurtured and grown.  You can’t really judge candidates’ technical abilities until you’ve seen them work, and you can’t evaluate their soft skills until you’ve had time to interact with them.  Resumes, interviews, and personality tests will never replace the experience of getting to know someone in an authentic setting.

Success Starts with the Boss

If we expect to change the status quo in the conservative world of HR, we need to take these ideas to the top.  Every level of management must be engaged in a discussion about how the organization will actively recruit and train the best human capital available.  CEOs: It’s time to stop preaching empty cliches about how “our people are our greatest assets” and start putting your money where your mouth is.

Is this approach more expensive in the short-term?  Absolutely.  But in the long-term, you can’t survive without it.

About Daniel Estrada

Daniel is the CTO and Product Manager at Scavado. He's been a technologist, consultant, entrepreneur, and everything in-between for the last 13 years. Daniel has lived in a few countries and speaks 3 languages.