4 Reasons Why Resumes Aren't King

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James SiuJune 16, 2020


Resumes were invented almost 600 years ago and still remain a common document in recruitment. Except, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that resumes are not the efficient tool they once were. Consider these statistics. An average corporate job attracts about 250 resumes. Recruiters spend about 7.4 seconds screening a resume before making a decision and then about five people will be shortlisted and called for an interview. This quick process can leave top talent lying on the table. On top of this, resumes are static and prone to exaggeration so there’s no guarantee your shortlist is comprised of the best talent available. Bias also creeps into the decision-making process which further muddies the waters.   

Keen to learn more about why resumes are no longer the best standalone option for recruiters? In this blog, we delve deeper into why resumes are no longer king.


1. Resumes are prone to keyword stuffing and exaggeration

Everyone wants to look their best, especially on a resume. That’s why most people aim to have their resume make them look as competent as possible. Sometimes, this translates to candidates using keyword stuffing and exaggeration. 

Keyword stuffing occurs when candidates cram as many keywords in their resume as possible to rank higher in applicant tracking systems (ATS). 

Over 90% of Fortune 500 companies use an ATS of some sort so it makes perfect sense that candidates would use this tactic to ensure their resume is seen.  ATS commonly use a keyword search to rank resumes based on relevancy and experience. Keyword stuffing and exaggeration will artificially inflate candidate ranks, making them appear more qualified than they might be.   

If you rely on an ATS to screen resumes and present you with the best options, then keyword stuffing might increase your chances of missing top candidates and even making a bad hire. On top of this, exaggeration is sometimes hard to identify in the short time spent scanning a resume. People can exaggerate job titles, responsibilities and successes. This can lead recruiters to believe a candidate hold skills that they may not yet have. Exaggeration and keyword stuffing are therefore one reason resumes are no longer the best option for screening candidates. 


2. You cannot accurately assess soft skills

Any candidate can type up a few words describing their abilities and soft skills. But how much of this is true? Soft skills are notoriously hard to determine on paper. With 93% of employers saying that soft skills are either an “essential” or “very important” factor in hiring decisions, recruiters need new and better ways to begin assessing them from the beginning of the hiring process. AI technology like psychometric testing and AI phone interviewers with advanced assessment capabilities can help achieve this.  

“Recruiters are increasingly screening candidates by personal attributes than by specific skills. For example motivation, lifelong learning and growth mindsets are important to today’s employers.” David McKeague (CSO at Curious Thing)

3. Resumes are static

Time doesn’t stop and neither do candidates as they continuously upskill and garner new experiences. As technology continues to develop, employees are constantly taking on new jobs and learning new skills. Sometimes this new information does not make it on a resume! The resume you receive from a candidate only reflects a specific snapshot in time and likely by the time you receive it, it already needs to be updated. Technology is changing daily and yet resumes remain static, this is a discrepancy that is becoming more obvious and in our opinion, is reducing the productivity, accuracy and efficiency of recruitment processes.  

Presently, solutions such as Linkedin, which over 85% of recruiters use, allow for a more dynamic insight into a candidate's experience. However, there still exists the problem of keyword stuffing and it still remains difficult to assess a candidate’s soft skill based on a 2D profile, signifying that more work needs to be done to address this issue. 


4. Resumes can promote bias

The influence of subconscious bias in resume screening is extremely high. Many types of bias can influence a recruiter’s decision to shortlist a candidate’s resume. Bias can have a negative impact on your company as it may hinder you from achieving diversity goals or result in you missing out on top candidates. 

The best way to deal with bias in recruitment is to automate the early stages of talent acquisition. By minimizing the need for human interaction in the initial screening process, you will be able to reduce the impact of bias on your decision making. AI technology like Curious Thing can help you reduce bias as can other steps like ensuring job descriptions use neutral language, using a blind resume review process and standardising interview formats.