A recent report states that the average job attracts 250 applicants. Since companies often don’t have the resources to personally interview all 250 candidates, they needed a simple tool to select the interviewees. Enter the resume.

Students and recruiters both dislike the resume drop and review process.

“All resumes look the same!” “What really matters on a resume?” “Does anyone look at my resume or does it enter a black hole?”
There are various approaches to choosing which resumes make it through the door.

There is the alumni approach: Some firms ask junior employees to review resumes coming from students at their alma mater. There is the mechanical approach: Some companies cut 50% or more of applicants through automated processes. Applicant tracking systems, or ATSs, do the initial cut, rejecting resumes that lack certain keywords. Then a recruiter, often an external contractor hired for recruiting season, will scan a resume for an average of 6 seconds. Countless articles have been written on how to make a resume “6-second worthy”.

I don’t know about you, but my story can’t be told in 6 seconds.

Be it a human or a machine scanning your resume, the target metrics are often similar. School prestige, GPA, and test scores are top filters. However, the validity of using these factors to screen candidates has been called into question. Many talented people don’t go to top schools for a host of reasons, including socioeconomic ones.  Many highly accomplished people didn’t have high GPA or test scores. The brain doesn’t finish developing until age 25, and not every 18-year-old brain is as disciplined as it needs to be to get that consistent 3.9 college GPA. Many learning disabilities affect both GPA and test scores — dyslexia and ADHD to name but two.

Google’s take: even for recent college grads, test scores and GPAs are “worthless as criteria for hiring”.
But don’t take Google’s word: just look at the outcome of this process. According to industry trends, 30-50% of recruiting efforts fail, meaning that the job offer is not accepted or the person doesn't work out within the first year. This is what happens when you use poor-quality data for key decision-making.

So, while some people have an amazing resume and should be rewarded for that, there should be other ways for people to stand out, right?  And there are. Unfortunately, they typically involve personal connections. Employee referrals are a key hiring strategy and companies have been built around hiring around a social graph. Knowing the right person at a company can help a person get their foot in the door. But again, this method of recruiting places disproportionate emphasis on socioeconomic environment. The well-connected are further rewarded, and the less-well-connected remain on the outside.

The underlying problem is that we live in the information age. Every 2 days, we create as much information as we did from the beginning of time up to 2003. We need to sift through the data somehow, and if we don't use the resume for that, what should we do? For inspiration, we should look to how other industries have adapted to the information age. Google, Amazon, Netflix, OkCupid. Kayak. They used better data and data science to extract and deliver meaningful signals instead of relying on poor data and hard cut-offs to do the job. Remember what they replaced? The yellow pages. Kmart. Blockbuster. Blind dates. And travel agents. Who would vote to bring any of those back?

It’s time to evolve and recognize that our current recruiting system is both subjective and insufficient. It’s time to more effectively harness the data at our disposal, and make better decisions using all the information we have.
This is precisely what a slew of new startups in the career assessment and recruiting space aim to do, including us here at pymetrics.

What use is it to live in the age of big data and machine learning if we are not taking advantage of the potential such developments confer?

It’s time to rethink the resume.