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  • Writer's pictureChippewa Valley Equality Initiative

Unpopular Opinion: Say Goodbye to Resumes

Author: Jennifer Keiko Engedal

Take a moment to guess the average time a recruiter spends on the initial screening of a resume. A mere 7.4 seconds. Not even a full minute is devoted to evaluating someone's qualifications.

So what is the solution proposed most often? Tips on how to maximize your resume. How to get a company's attention with your resume. How to make your resume stand out.

This type of vetting is almost like speed dating. But worse. We even give people in speed dating about 5 minutes to make a case for themselves. Can you imagine getting only 7.4 seconds?

There's a lot of issues with resumes as a whole. They exclude individuals who have not had adequate training on how to fill out a resume. The perfect format varies from organization to organization. They may show qualifications that look good on paper, but do not translate into success in a position. They are often tossed aside because of unconscious biases from the recruiter or reviewer.

What are some examples of unconscious bias, besides the typical things we think about such as race? An email address that is unique can be seen as too crazy and land you in the no pile. A formerly incarcerated individual (even though legally this should not be an issue), can land you in the no pile. An address that seems too far away, can add you to the no pile. A gap of employment (from what could be a stay at home parent), can add you to the no pile.

By continuing to force individuals to adjust to the 7.4 second review, instead of changing the process, we are furthering a systemic corporate culture that is not inclusive of individuals outside the societal norm.

So what do we do? Where do we go? How do we do it? We need to look at the whole picture. We most likely cannot force recruiters to increase the time they review a resume. As human beings, we try to be efficient, and maximize our time. So this theory will most likely not result in the appropriate results. We can't change the unconscious biases of recruiters and reviewers overnight. That requires years of dedicated training.

What companies and organizations need to do, is say goodbye to resumes. Questions need to be eliminated on the submission form asking individuals to identify their gender, sex, and race, and add a section for pronouns.

This may sound like a crazy theory. It goes against years of traditional corporate recruiting and hiring. However, the current system isn't working. It disenfranchises individuals in mere seconds, and continues the exclusion of underrepresented groups.

What does saying goodbye to resumes look like? The best solution, in my opinion, is something similar to a long cover letter. A moment for individuals to represent themselves in the best way possible. Creating a questionnaire will most likely not accomplish this. Because standardized formats allow individuals to go back to quickly skimming questions for specific answers, versus taking the time to read and recognize unique characteristics and skills of each individual.

Allowing individuals to have letters of recommendation can be another part of this process. This allows you to identify attributes that cannot be recognized on a traditional resume. Work ethic, drive, personality, and many other qualities can be much more easily identified through a letter of recommendation, than a resume.

Lastly, organizations and businesses need to continue their work within the community to connect with multiple individuals in underrepresented groups. By doing this, it allows conversations of positions that are upcoming, that members of those groups may apply for, and feel as though they have an opportunity. This will not happen overnight, and will require continue community work. However, if marginalized individuals do not recognize a company or organization as a safe space, they will never apply, due to the fact that they will most likely get denied access even before the interview process. Corporate culture needs to be inclusive and provide equity to those minority members.

This may seem like a big task. It will probably make waves, and challenge processes that have existed within your hiring since creation. But inclusion means changing the game. It means making ourselves uncomfortable to do what is not only right, but equitable. The corporate hiring process needs to change. We just have to do it.

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