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Getting Rid of the Résumé

trashbinThe Employee Relations

Law Journal (Journal) has recently

published another study that underlines why resumes don’t

work and why they should not be trusted (Lies

and Damned Lies: Some Legal Implications of Resume Fraud and Advice for

Preventing It).  Affintus has been a part of this discussion

for years and the proof keeps growing.

We have all heard about George O’Leary (short-lived Notre

Dame coach) – lied about his degrees and football experience.  Ditto Marilee Jones at MIT – the Dean of

Admissions did not have any of the degrees she claimed to have (her lie wasn’t

discovered for 28 years – wow).  Michael

Brown, head of FEMA in the George W. Bush administration lied about his

experience saying he had been an assistant city manager when he was an

assistant to the city manager and had

zero management responsibility in that position.

Of course there are many more examples including an

embarrassing incident at my own university, Texas A&M.  Every few years they verify that my Ph.D. is (still)

real, but they weren’t in the habit of checking the degrees or resume entries of

administrators.  Not sure why. When Alexander Kemos produced

a sparkling resume listing both a doctoral degree from Tufts University and

experience as a Navy SEAL (very cool), he was quickly hired to be the number

three guy on campus.  Then it was

discovered that neither the degree nor the Navy SEAL service was real. He left

the university to spend more time with his family.

Jon Bible’s research from his recent Journal article found that some 46% of résumés include erroneous

information about job candidates’ employment and educational histories. He

notes that part of the problem is the employer:

Bible reports that only about 68% of employers confirm job histories and

only 42% check educational backgrounds.

Caveat emptor, anyone?

Resumes are marketing tools.

That’s it.  Marketing… think of a

resume as a used car description – read it, but don’t necessarily believe it.  President

Ronald Reagan was fond of the Russian proverb Доверите а проверите: Trust, but verify.

(Thanks to Bruce Truitt, my favorite Russophile, for the translation! If you

want to know more about this proverb, just email me: Deborah@affintus.com)

Resumes will not reveal if a person can do a job, or if they

will fit in the company culture, or anything useful about the value of past

experience.  Some companies have decided resumes

are pretty much a waste of time and don’t even consider them anymore!

So how do hiring managers figure out whom to hire?  Simple: use methods and tools that are proven

and verifiable.

First, focus on the job – most managers do not really think

much about the jobs they supervise.  Answering

these questions will help hiring managers get in tune with what they need to

focus on:  what is important about this

job? What parts of it are performed most often?

Then update the job description.

Really.

Second, use a valid assessment to evaluate candidates – selection

is one area where computers and science do a much better job than people at

determining the best match for job – assessment data cannot be faked.

Next, structure the interview.   Instead of a conversation, make it a data

collection session.  Ask behavioral

questions, take detailed notes, and then rate responses on a scale, 1-4 works

fine.  Define what the interviewer should

listen for – what answer would rate a 1 on the scale?  What would the candidate say that would be

rated a 2, 3, or 4?

And if you decide to include resume data in your decision

making, be sure to spend the time and money to confirm degrees, work history,

and background.  It will cost a lot less

than a hiring mistake and can save you from some unwelcome surprises.

Written By: Deborah Kerr Ph.D.