Why a Resume Isn’t Everything When Hiring Tech Talent

Resumes can make notorious first impressions. Wouldn’t you rather start with some insight on their reputation?

But I’m so much more than my resume. Of course you are, my bright little star. But I haven’t got time to figure that out.

So goes the saga of job candidates and hiring managers. The document that binds them together often fails to reveal the real person it represents.

Nobody’s willing to throw their resume out the window just yet, but more companies are searching for a resume replacement. If you rely on resumes, sooner or later you may find you’ve been had by a job candidate who plays fast and loose with the truth. Lies on resumes are not uncommon. In fact, a recent CareerBuilder survey showed that 58% of employers have caught a lie on a resume.

What kind of lies?

BackgroundChecks.org reports that the most common lies are:

  • Embellished skill set (57%)
  • Embellished responsibilities (55%)
  • Dates of employment (42%)
  • Job title (34%)
  • Academic degree (33%)

So what? Everybody tells little white lies. An online survey by AOL Jobs revealed that almost 27% of respondents said they have lied or would consider lying on a resume. It’s estimated that resume fraud costs employers about $600 billion a year. As a result, the Society for Human Resource Management reports that almost 40% of HR professionals have had to increase the amount of time they spend checking references.

The customer was going to buy the standard version of your product, but you upsell them to the deluxe version because not only is it 20% bigger, it comes with an extended warranty.

Is there a better way?

Innovative organizations have realized that it’s important to put less emphasis on the resume, and more on the reputation—less on what candidates say about themselves, and more on what others say about them. For that, companies must rely on third-party feedback. There’s an additional benefit to moving in this direction. Your company will start hiring more doers—people focused on action—instead of tellers.

Resumes can make notorious first impressions. Companies who place a heavy emphasis on resumes for screening often overlook some of the best candidates available to them. Because words are an inadequate representation of people—especially when people are asked to choose those words themselves.

Yes, this is about modesty. Even when it comes to landing a dream job, most people find it difficult to self-promote to the level necessary. On the other hand, you can ask others for their opinion about a job candidate, and it’s possible you’ll hear the glowing praise, examples of leadership, and stellar accomplishments you wish you had read on the resume.

The right stuff

Which would you rather use to make a hiring decision:

  • A resume that lists a candidate’s accomplishments
  • A validated third party that can vouch for a candidate’s accomplishments

Moving beyond the resume allows you to focus on what should matter more than what an individual can say about themselves. A resume cannot communicate reputation, and that’s what you need to know about.

This shouldn’t move you outside of a professional comfort zone at all. Think about how you approach finding people for other solutions. Do you ask an electrician for their resume? Instead, you’d seek out reviews from actual customers. What’s even more important to note is that you also might also make your decision based on what a complete stranger has to say.

Social media makes this possible. Professional social media networks make it easy to research the reputation of job candidates. You can see what others have to say about them on LinkedIn. In the case of technical talent, you can even see samples of their past work on code repositories like Stack Overflow and GitHub.

Recommendations matter

We want to know what others think. Recommendations are extremely important to us, yet we seem to sidestep them in the employment process. Professional social media networks can help balance this out. That said, it’s already easy for anyone to game the system.

How many times have you clicked away for 5 minutes or so to “endorse” members of your LinkedIn network? Those have reached the point where they carry little weight. What’s massively valuable, though, are the written recommendations we write for others in our professional network. We are shaping their reputation.

Sifting through the sand

Searching for top technical talent is only going to continue to become more difficult. The best individuals out there aren’t interested in your position. They’re already gainfully employed and like it where they are. Or, they’re right under your nose but invisible to you because the first step in the discovery process—their resume—failed to give insight into just how talented they are.

It’s time to partner with an IT staffing organization that understands the importance of moving beyond resume evaluations.

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