Hire the person, not the resume

We tend to put a great deal of emphasis on resumes when looking to hire for a position. Did they go to the “right” schools? Do they have the required number of years experience? Do they have the correct certifications and licenses?

While some of this information might be important (when looking to hire a medical doctor, it is important to hire a licensed doctor who graduated from an accredited medical school) much of it is simply telling what the person did in the past and not what they are going to do in the future. Other things on a resume might look good on paper but not transfer well to the workplace.

As an example, a small business might be looking for a new CEO and in looking through the resumes of the applicants, they come across one of a former executive at a Fortune 500 company. This might automatically seem like a “no brainer” of a hire with the thought being if they could do it at a big company, doing it at a smaller company would be simple. The problems start when the person is hired and starts realizing he might not have the numerous assistants, secretaries, runners etc who did the small things, that are so important, at the larger organization. The larger organization might have a fully staffed travel department who takes care of all travel arrangements but with the new organization, it’s probably more of a “do it yourself” situation. When arranging his own travel, he might just automatically make a reservation at a Ritz Carlton because that is where he stayed when traveling for his previous employer but that might shoot much of the travel budget for the smaller organization.

A soccer club might look to hire an “A licensed coach” (the highest license in US soccer) without regard for how the coach actually deals with the players. The licensing procedures are based on passing tests, running practices in a controlled environment etc. The first time the coach has to deal with an irate parent over playing time, the “A license” doesn’t help much.

If I’m hiring a graphic designer, I could look at the resumes and see who went to the “right” art schools or who worked for the “right” ad agency. The alternative is to actually look at the designers work. Have them design something specifically for the interview and then look at some of their other work. That will give you a good idea of their quality of work, much more so than something on their resume. This doesn’t mean to ignore the resume completely, you still will want to check previous employers etc but use the resume as a resource and not as the deciding piece.

If you are in a position to do so, try to create a situation where the applicant can demonstrate their abilities. If hiring a computer programmer dealing with a specific language or program, give them a short assignment using that language or program. This will tell you a great deal more than the “3.9 GPA” on their transcript.

I’ve never seen a resume do a good job. People, on the other hand, can be great. Hire the person, not the resume.

Have a great day!


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