Furthermore, companies that
screen by resume may leave out a
substantial number of people who don’t
know how to write a resume or aren’t
skilled at navigating the complexities of
applying for a job, she adds.
With resumes, “we’re judging
people maybe more on their ability
to summarize their career than their
ability to do the actual job,” says Kevin
Parker, CEO of HireVue, a video-interviewing technology vendor.
Parker says resumes have “the
illusion of validity,” or something that’s
presumed to work, but actually doesn’t.
One of HireVue’s clients, which
is hiring thousands of software
developers, has moved away from the
resume for screening in favor of coding
challenges. “We may look at the resume
as a third step in the process, but at that
point it doesn’t matter where you went
to school—if you can do the work, then
we’re interested in you,” says Parker.
The upshot is that the company
greatly improved its diversity while
eliminating people who had great GPAs
but couldn’t do the actual work, he says.
Parker says he sees companies
turning to alternative methods, such as
structured interviews, video interviews
and coding challenges, because they’re
better predictors of who can do the
“Five years from now, you’ll find
someone using resumes and you’ll
think, ‘Oh my gosh, how cute! You still
do it that way,’ ” says Parker.
Resumes Still Predominate
However, despite its flaws, the
resume continues to be the predominant
vehicle for jobseekers and the
recruiters who are screening them.
And it continues to have fans within the
HR profession, Lundberg among them.
The resume is the most concise
summary of a candidate’s skills and
experience, she says.
“I coach everyone who works for
me on this rule: Past performance is a
great predictor of future performance,”
Pairing traditional resume
screening with newer tools like social
media can be a very effective way to
screen candidates for consistency,
she says. She cites a candidate who
applied for a business-analyst position
with Combined Insurance. His resume
looked good, but when Lundberg
checked out his LinkedIn profile, much
of it was devoted to a designer-clothing
initiative he was launching.
“It said to me that this man would
not be happy as a business analyst—
his creative passions do not lie in this
role,” she says.
And while critics contend that
resumes can leave candidates open to
unconscious bias over their names or
gender, Lundberg says training—not
eliminating resumes—is the solution.
“We all have unconscious biases
that we have to check at the door,”
“It’s visual evidence of their
multimedia-storytelling abilities,” says
Ford. “It’s like a living resume.”
A Resume-Free Hiring Process
The decision to not accept resumes
was one of the first Detroit Labs’
founders made, says Hughes.
“No. 1, we wanted everyone at
the company to have a say in who we
hired,” he says. “Two, if we relied
on standard resumes, we’d have a
hard time being able to consistently
Instead, candidates fill out a detailed
questionnaire created by whichever
team they’d be working with. The
teams then review the questionnaires
and vote on which candidate they’d like
to invite for an interview. Not only does
the process give employees a say in
who the company hires, says Hughes,
“I think Detroit Labs is attempting
to get to know candidates in a different
way,” she says. “Communication
skills aren’t easily discerned from
a resume—you can’t tell whether
someone’s good at persuading or
advancing an argument. You can more
easily determine that with a question-
At Lever, Srinivasan uses an on-site
presentation to assess candidates on a
variety of dimensions: Are they clear
communicators, do they give sufficient
context upfront, are they aware of their
She says she also looks for
“intellectual curiosity,” which she notes
you can’t discern from a resume.
At Bain Consulting, one of
Srinivasan’s previous employers, the
company conducted case interviews in
which candidates were given problems
to solve. The company used them to
get a sense of how candidates think—
did they tackle the problem in a logical
way, do they think in a structured way?
“Resumes are static, reflecting a
fixed point in time, and yet people are
continuously evolving,” she says.
The Des Moines metropolitan area,
where Accumold is located, has an
unemployment rate of just 3 percent
“and I’ve probably interviewed about 2. 5
percent of that 3 percent,” says Swanson.
The 350-employee company, which
was started in a garage 30 years ago,
makes precision parts for “
micro-molding” tiny components out of
plastic—components that can literally
be smaller than a grain of sand, she
says. It’s looking for candidates who
are reliable, detail-oriented and who
want to remain with and grow at
Accumold, says Swanson.
Accumold has invested heavily in
trying to grow talent locally, including
a scholarship program with a nearby
community college in which it pays for
students’ education while they train at
the company to become tool-and-die
Swanson estimates she spends about
30 seconds reviewing each resume she
receives and finds them inefficient.
“There’s just so much non-value-added
information on a resume,” she says.
“And there’s more than a few resumes
I’ve seen where the information didn’t
hold up on the background checks.”
“When you’ve got hundreds of
people applying and 90 percent aren’t
qualified, that’s a lot of wasted effort,”
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Labs from those who may be simply
going through the motions.
“If someone applies to work here,
we know they’ve spent at least 15
minutes to an hour getting to know
us and applying to us, rather than
just pushing a button to send us their
resume,” he says.
The questions, which are reviewed
by the company’s lawyer, are designed
to determine a candidate’s technical
skills and also to give a sense of who
the person is and how he or she thinks,
says Hughes. Not all candidates are
thrilled with the process, he admits,
but it helps the teams get to know
them better. It’s also important for the
company to explain to candidates why
the no-resume process is critical to
Detroit Labs’ decision-making.
“I think it’s been an outstanding
way for us to avoid the ‘like being
comfortable with like’ problem we’ve
seen in the tech industry,” he says,
citing the tendency of Silicon Valley
hiring managers to go with candidates
whose resumes reflect their own
A “Lot of Wasted Effort”
The resume simply doesn’t tell
recruiters enough about the character
and qualities of a candidate to
determine his or her success, says
Leela Srinivasan, chief marketing
officer for recruitment firm Lever.
“Think of the modern workplace—
so much rests on the character of the
individual and their ability to work
collaboratively in teams,” she says,
citing a top-performing salesperson
at a previous employer who was fired
because the person’s actions were not
in line with the company’s values. “You
could look great on paper, but results
Srinivasan says she’s intrigued by
Detroit Labs’ resume-free approach.
Lever has worked with other
companies that moved away from
resumes, she says, such as KeepSafe,