Weekly Wrap: Why Are We So Quick to Dismiss the Good, Old Résumé?

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Want some shocking news? The Wall Street Journal reports that, “Many job seekers have long suspected their online employment applications disappear into a black hole, never to be seen again … (and) their fears may not be far off the mark.”

I know; you are probably stunned and surprised that lots of people apply for jobs online and never hear anything back about it. Who knew?

The Journal also published another story (proving that dumb stuff comes in pairs) titled No More Résumés Some Firms Say that uses anecdotal evidence from three companies (yes, 3 is not a misprint) to declare that, “(businesses) are increasingly relying on social networks such as LinkedIn, video profiles and online quizzes to gauge candidates’ suitability for a job. While most still request a résumé as part of the application package, some are bypassing the staid requirement altogether.”

This makes me wonder: what’s wrong with the good, old résumé?

Big shock: recruiters are overwhelmed

Here’s more of what The Journal had to say about this newly discovered issue of online résumés getting ignored en masse:

Recruiters and hiring managers are overwhelmed by the volume of résumés pouring in, thanks to the weak job market and new tools that let applicants apply for a job with as little as one mouse click. The professional networking website LinkedIn recently introduced an “apply now” button on its job postings that sends the data in a job seeker’s profile directly to a potential employer.

While job boards and networking websites help companies broadcast openings to a wide audience, potentially increasing the chance the perfect candidate will reply, the resulting flood of applications tends to include a lot of duds. Most recruiters report that at least 50% of job hunters don’t possess the basic qualifications for the jobs they are pursuing.”

I can’t recall when I first encountered the Internet effect when it came to people applying for jobs online, but I’m pretty sure it was back around the year 2000 when Monster was still the Monster Board and people were still somewhat surprised to find that posting job ads online was akin to washing someone off with a fire hose.

For The Wall Street Journal to report in 2012 that “recruiters and hiring managers are overwhelmed by the volume of résumés pouring in,” well, that’s sort of like saying that the economy has been a bit slow the last few years, or that there’s some unrest in the Middle East.

Is the traditional résumé going away?

Yes, it’s easy for any and every Tom, Dick, and Harriet out there to apply online for a job regardless of their lack of qualifications. Limiting that has been an ongoing struggle for job boards and employers big and small, and frankly, we’re hardly better at limiting the flood today than we were back in 2000 or whenever online applications took off.

So, while I scratch my head at The Wall Street Journal suddenly discovering this issue, I’m much more troubled at their reporting that the traditional résumé is going the way of the Dodo. Here’s more about that:

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Companies are increasingly relying on social networks such as LinkedIn, video profiles and online quizzes to gauge candidates’ suitability for a job. While most still request a résumé as part of the application package, some are bypassing the staid requirement altogether. …

A résumé doesn’t provide much depth about a candidate, says Christina Cacioppo, an associate at Union Square Ventures who blogs about the hiring process on the company’s website and was herself hired after she compiled a profile comprising her personal blog, Twitter feed, LinkedIn profile, and links to social-media sites Delicious and Dopplr, which showed places where she had traveled.”

Ok, I get that traditional résumés are old school — boring, old technology, one directional, often poorly done — but they haven’t lasted as long as they have by accident. They work, even in our technology crazy times, because of one simple thing: they allow a hiring manager or recruiter to get a quick, brief snapshot of an applicant.

Why résumés still work

It may not be the best view they get, but it is one they can get quickly and easily with little muss or fuss. Give me an hour and a two-foot pile of résumés, and I’ll give you the Top 5 or 10 candidates in that stack. Yes, I still want to see their social media presence, but I can thumb through and scan that résumé pile pretty quickly — and a lot faster than I could track down and eyeball all of their LinkedIn profiles or Facebook pages.

It’s frankly silly and somewhat dishonest for The Wall Street Journal to take what three companies do and give the impression that it is the big new trend. Yes, a résumé isn’t the perfect way to evaluate a job candidate, but it’s a good start that is easy to access and understand, especially for your technology challenged CEO.

Oh, and by the way, that same WSJ story about the expected death of the résumé noted this way down in paragraph 16:

At most companies, résumés are still the first step of the recruiting process, even at supposedly nontraditional places like Google Inc., which hired about 7,000 people in 2011, after receiving some 2 million résumés. Google has an army of “hundreds” of recruiters who actually read every one, says Todd Carlisle, the technology firm’s director of staffing.”

Imagine that. Google still uses old school résumés. I wonder if that has anything to do with how they’re doing?

Targeting “unemployed need not apply” ads

Of course, there’s more than The Wall Street Journal beating up on résumés in the news this week. Here are other HR and workplace-related items you may have missed. This is TLNT’s weekly round-up of news, trends, and insights from the world of HR and talent management. I do it so you don’t have to.

  • California targets discrimination against the unemployed. There has been a lot of debate over job ads and policies that specifically say that “unemployed need not apply,” and now California has jumped into the discussion with a law targeting the practice. According to the Sacramento Bee, “New Jersey has passed a law banning such advertisements, federal legislation is pending, and a newly proposed California bill, Assembly Bill 1450, would prohibit discriminating against the jobless in hiring. “It’s the same as excluding a particular religion or minority group – it’s wrong,” said Assemblyman Michael Allen, a Santa Rosa Democrat, who is the author of AB 1450.”
  • Are layoffs making Cargill more “nimble?” Agribusiness giant Cargill Inc. has been laying off a lot of people — nearly 2,000 by the last count — and that’s because the company thinks it needs to be more “nimble.” As the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports, “(An) ongoing increase in competition is a factor. The old order of the commodity business … has been supplanted by a more dynamic playing field,” according to Cargill chief operating officer David MacLennan “It’s a new world with competitors who are very agile.” And, part of that need to get more nimble has to do with Cargill’s culture. CEO Greg Page wrote in an email to employees about the layoffs: “We also need to change certain aspects of our culture — the drive for perfection, the need for consensus, process for the sake of process — that slow us down, ultimately costing us time, expense and sales.”
  • Tacking outdated rules and laws that hinder businesses. You hear lots of talk about how regulations hinder businesses and job growth, but Colorado seems to be one of the few states to be making a serious effort to do something about it. The Denver Post reports that, “From outdated rules dictating how events are held along the sides of state highways to delays in processing air-quality permits, Gov. John Hickenlooper says his administration is zeroing in on government red tape. Hickenlooper, a Democrat, (has) released a report outlining hundreds of rules that are being reviewed — and in some cases repealed — as a result of a “Pits and Peeves” listening tour around the state with businesses and citizens…”Before you turn around and put your hands out to voters and say you want more resources,” the governor said recently, “you better be able to demonstrate that you’re running your ship as efficiently as it can be run.”
  • The HR problem from hell? Firing ThunderBug.  How would you like to be the HR pro who had to deal with this?  The Tampa Bay Times says that, “ThunderBug has been fired. The final offense? Inappropriate use of Silly String. The Tampa Bay Lightning mascot sprayed a Boston Bruins fan at a Jan. 17 hockey game. The fan took offense and pushed ThunderBug down. Thousands saw it on YouTube. The team did not condone ThunderBug’s actions.”

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of TLNT.com. A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at johnhollon@ere.net, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.


1 Comment on “Weekly Wrap: Why Are We So Quick to Dismiss the Good, Old Résumé?

  1. Thanks John for this interesting and thought provoking article.  I’m glad to hear sone one still believes in a well presented resume.

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