Employment Resume, Worthwhile or Worthless?

By: Robin McKay

The CV or Resume has long been a fundamental requirement for any job applicant or recruiter. The CV server to tell recruiters if an applicant has the knowledge, skill and experience to do the job - but does it?

I am of the belief that in most cases the CV will only tell you how good a writer someone is, or in many cases another person is. There is a burgeoning industry in CV construction - beautifully crafted documents that look wonderful on the surface, but hide more than they truthfully tell.

The problem with initial screening via a CV is a lack of standardisation. Imagine a hiring manager getting 20 CVs and having to assess each one to extract the information he, or she, needs to evaluate an applicant's suitability for the job! Lack of time and personal bias tends to lessen the validity of this process. Added to this is the email and Internet revolution - it is so easy for job applicants to 'blast-off' dozens of templated CVs.

Aligned to this lack of standardisation, there is a big question of legitimacy of information and the inability of the information in the CV to predict future 'on-the-job' performance and behaviour, or in short, 'job fit'.

The on-going suspicion that CVs cannot always be trusted has been validated in many studies. There are suggestions that perhaps 70% of CVs contain, at best, forms of "embellishments". These include exaggerating job titles and responsibilities, inflated salaries, unsubstantiated qualifications, taking credit for others work and inventing activities where there are job 'blanks'.

We have long known that CVs will only tell us about "what" a person has done, or may be able to do. It does not address "why" or "how" the person will do it - this is the realm of personality, values, motivations and attitudes. This information is innate and can only be assessed through a validated psychometric profile.

What if we could apply the behavioural principle to the CV application process? For the last few years we have been advising clients to substitute the CV for an application form. At least this will collect the information you need in a standardised manner. You can then measure apples-with-apples.

When assessing people for a job, it is important to know what they have done, but I also believe we can judge a candidate's future successful performance by asking them what they prefer to do - their behaviour. This concept is inextricably linked to the theories of motivation. You hire in intrinsic motivation.

If a person has a job that they prefer to do, a job that enables them to use their innate (natural) abilities and personality characteristics, they'll be more inclined to perform well and stay in the job longer (retention).

The Internet, and advances in organisational psychology, have now enabled us to construct online application forms that capture what a person prefers to do along with the basics, what they have done and then to drop them into a quick attitude profile to evaluate how they will do it.

Now you can automatically capture and screen applicants, enabling you to select out the people who do not fit the job. This saves a huge amount of management time and money. It also eliminates the risk of hiring bias where manager make emotional judgements based on gut feel. Just because an applicant looks presentable and speaks well, doesn't mean they can do the job!

Applicants that 'pass' a two stage customised online application process can then be advanced to the screening-in process, the main, multi rated behavioural based interview. Here your time can be best used to validate the information you gained in the screening-out process. Or, depending on the number of applicants, you may wish to reference or/and background checking first. Usually, this can select-out unsuitable applicants quickly before wasting a couple hours at interview.

And speaking of job interviews, it never ceases to amaze me that amount of weight place on the employment interview. The typical job interview is the worst predictor of future job performance and yet is the most used and most expensive process!

Human Resources
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