Resume Blunders: CareerBuilder Reveals Hiring's Most Mistaken Assumption

September 21st, 2017
Jon-Mark Sabel
Recruiting Teams

From ironic typos to flat-out lies, resume mishaps fit squarely in the “guilty pleasure” category. Take these gems for example: “Skills: Strong Work Ethic, Attention to Detail, Team Player, Self Motivated, Attention to Detail” “I am about to enrol on a Business and Finance Degree with the University. I feel that this qualification will prove detrimental to me for future success.” “Studied under Nietzsche.” You know you shouldn’t laugh - these are real people, after all - but sometimes it’s impossible to stifle a small chuckle. It’s hard to not appreciate the irony when someone lists “attention to detail” twice in their list of skills.  We assume that, since resumes are ubiquitous in hiring, these “bloopers” are errors in diligence or integrity, not mistakes made in ignorance. There’s a difference between an applicant who boldly claims to have studied under Nietzsche and an applicant who has no idea what they’re doing. That’s why we can laugh without feeling morally repugnant. But is this assumption correct? The resume is a quintessential part of the hiring process, and has been for decades. For those exposed to resumes on a daily basis, it is easy to forget most folks see only one resume (their own) and update it infrequently (when they need a job). 

75% of HR Managers have Caught Candidates Lying on their Resume

Most coverage of CareerBuilder’s most recent survey of 2,575 hiring and human resources managers has focused on one statistic: three in four HR Managers say they’ve caught candidates lying on their resumes. To no one's surprise, no one is surprised. Like in previous CareerBuilder surveys, some of the more outlandish lies are incredibly entertaining. For example:

  • An applicant claimed to have written computer code that was actually written by the hiring manager.
  • An applicant claimed to be an anti-terrorist spy for the CIA during the time he would have been in elementary school.
  • An applicant said he worked for Microsoft but had no idea who Bill Gates was.

But for every amusing falsehood there’s also an applicant who just doesn’t seem to know proper resume protocol. For example:

  • An applicant included a picture with all of his pets.
  • An applicant included a description of his family.
  • An applicant mentioned his favorite hobby: watching horror movies.

These are not oversights or lies: they are intentional inclusions, made by applicants unfamiliar with resume-writing convention.

Fundamental Assumption: People Know How to Write a Resume

Most recruiting functions still use the resume as a cursory screening tool. In doing so, they fundamentally assume that people know what they’re doing when writing their resume. If CareerBuilder’s survey(s) are any indication, this is not the case. Most schools do not teach resume writing. If they do, it is during a short, hour-long seminar put on by a guidance counselor wholly out of their element. There’s an economic factor in play as well: wealthier schools have an abundance of guidance and career counselors; those in poorer neighborhoods do not. Outside of academia, “Career Services” Centers are often first on the chopping block when government budgets are squeezed. Unless applicants actively seek resume-writing help, they have no point of reference when it comes time to create their own. In other words, the resume is an art form reserved for those who (usually) need it least

Does the resume have a real alternative?

Most of us realize the resume is an imprecise screening tool. But what’s the alternative? The resume is a convenient way to get critical information about every applicant. How can you make informed screening decisions without a list of achievements, credentials, and past experience?
There are a few different routes organizations are taking to get past the bias inherent in resume screening.

1) Intelligent Sourcing

Provided by companies like Entelo, intelligent sourcing works by pre-screening candidates you would source anyway, based on qualifications chosen by a recruiter. They pull from a wide range of data sources, from publicly available social data to your own ATS. While on-file resumes are a valuable source of data for these tools, they are not the only source. Fundamental Assumption: people have an online social presence.

2) Video Introductions (or "Interview First")

Pioneered by Children's Mercy Hospital (CMH) through HireVue, video introductions allow candidates to "introduce themselves" to your organization without applying for a specific role. Job seekers detail their skills and experience in a recorded video interview accessible to anyone, and recruiters retroactively match each job seeker to relevant requisitions. Fundamental Assumption: people can talk about themselves.

3) Chatbot Screening

By holding initial discovery conversations with interested parties, AI-powered chatbots screen job seekers without ever looking at a resume. Chatbots like Mya ask applicants about job-related qualifications like certifications, skills, schooling, and previous work experience. Based on job seekers' responses, the chatbot can make first-pass screening decisions on the fly. Fundamental Assumption: people can type about themselves.

Making More Logical Assumptions About Job Seekers

You might notice a trend here: these are all relatively new technologies. While the pre-mobile, pre-internet era mandated the resume's convenience, worthwhile alternatives are beginning to emerge. The best resume alternatives will make more logical fundamental assumptions about interested job seekers. The closer the assumption comes to a universal truth (ie, people can talk/type about themselves), the better.

Learn more about how Children's Mercy Hospital flipped the script on their hiring process by letting job seekers "interview" before they apply:
Children's Mercy widened their talent pipeline, empowered job seekers, and fostered more inclusive hiring decisions (the new process increased new hire diversity by 58%).