Replace the Resume with A Resume-less Recruiting System

Organizations that try to use resumes to screen candidates quickly discover that they do not adequately represent a person’s career or ability. How can a list of positions held and degrees earned equate to ability to accomplish the goals of your organization? Recruiters use the resume primarily as a way to gather a superficial layer of information. If the resume has been carefully constructed, it may generate enough interest to lead to an interview. But when a dozen or so resumes for a given position are carefully examined, what do you find? Almost identical qualifications with some minor variations and twists. Too often, it’s these twists that generate the interest that leads to the interview, not some demonstrated capability. When I was recently looking at six resumes for a recruiting position, I found that all the applicants had a college degree, one with a Master’s degree. All had between 3-5 years of recruiting experience at an average of 2 companies. Four of the applicants appeared to be women. All met the basic requirements for the position. What I had in front of me was no more revealing or valuable than 6 business cards. Yet, the heart of virtually all recruiting and applicant tracking systems is the resume. We spend all kinds of money and time entering, retrieving, coding and distributing almost worthless information. Why? Because convention and habit say that is what an organization should look at. Managers expect it. Candidates expect it. But what if you could develop a system that would help an applicant assemble a portfolio representative of his or her achievements, accomplishments and abilities? Or even better, perhaps, from the organization’s point of view, why not create a system that would ask questions which would reveal the skills and abilities of a candidate? An ideal system could help an organization describe a position in terms of what needs to be accomplished. An interested person could respond by giving evidence and examples of how they have already accomplished those things elsewhere or how they would go about doing it in this new position. They could assemble a portfolio of things that they have accomplished and the activities they have completed. After all, isn’t this what we are seeking in an interview? Isn’t this the heart of all assessment centers? And isn’t this what we rely on references to testify to? What any organization or hiring manager really wants to know is: Can this person do the job I need to get done in the manner and in the timeframe I need? When I was having lunch with a friend the other day, he said that he only hired people who came with a reference from someone he knew. He used that referral as a verification of ability and competence. He figured that his friends would not send him someone incompetent or unable to perform because their reputation was on the line. There was a sense of accountability and responsibility that can be gained no other way. A small start up called World.hire down in Austin, Texas has launched a product that could be the beginning of a great relationship between organizations and potential candidates. They have already convinced IBM and a number of other companies that there is better way than screening resumes to find good candidates. They combine software for attracting people to an organization’s job pages with software that screens a candidate online, helps them construct this portfolio we have been discussing (although at this point the portfolio is rudimentary), and delivers a short list of screened candidates directly to a hiring manager. Their software focuses on finding candidates and screening them immediately rather than focusing on the administrative tasks of scanning, coding, storing, and distributing vague and marginally-useful information. It is even possible that many organizations could dispense with the recruiter altogether with a system like this, and have an administrative person take care of legal and routine paperwork until that, too, is automated. But, the bottomline is that tools like this can make the hiring process much more effective, efficient, and fun. It makes intuitive sense to look at what people have done and can do — to look at outputs — rather than to look at what they have learned in school or at where they have worked, which is really just focusing on inputs. Take a fresh look at what you are doing and where you are spending your scare resources. Are you really going to get what you are paying for from your investment? This new class of tools may be your answer and are probably what will dominate the recruiting world over the next decade.

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Kevin Wheeler is a globally known speaker, author, futurist, and consultant in talent management, human capital acquisition and learning & development. He has founded a number of organizations including the Future of Talent Institute, Global Learning Resources, Inc. and the Australasian Talent Conference, Ltd. He hosts Future of Talent Retreats in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. He writes frequently on LinkedIn, is a columnist for, keynotes, and speaks at conferences and events globally, and advises firms on talent strategy. He has authored two books and hundreds of articles and white papers. He has a new book on recruiting that will be out in late summer of 2016. Prior to his current work, he had a 20+year corporate career in several San Francisco area tech and financial service firms. He has also been on the faculty of San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco. He can be reached at


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