resume and keayboard

Editor’s Note: In 2023 we’re going to introduce several guest bloggers. This blog post on resume screening was written by Dr. Warren Bobrow. If you’re interested in being a guest blogger, let us know.

I have been thinking lately about how there is so much available talent (people looking for work and to change jobs) and what employers are doing about it. 

Typically, this kind of environment is great news for companies that are hiring.  That is not entirely the case now. Since there is so much employee movement, job candidates in certain sectors (for instance, hospitality) seem to have the upper hand in terms of salary.  Others are enjoying increased schedule flexibility.  However, employers have a lot of options as well.  The only problem is that some are over playing their hand. 

The Use of Resume Screening Software

Case in point is the use of resume screening software.  Don’t get me wrong—this type of tech is something that companies need to use. It is an efficient and objective way to go through resumes.  However, as this article points out, employers are likely missing out on lots of good candidates. It is not because the algorithms don’t work.  It’s because they are filled with untested assumptions provided by hiring companies. 

Myths of Hiring

It is amazing how many myths companies have about who they hire.  For instance, each time I have done a pre-employment assessment validation study in a contact center, line managers insist that previous experience is a plus.  However, each time the data does not support that assumption. If anything, my experience shows that for contact centers, the opposite is true—those who worked in them before do worse in the next job.  Why?  Well, if they were good at it, they would not have made a job change in the first place.  Also, there is a lot of unlearning that has to go on when training veterans on the customer management software. If you attempted to validate similar assumptions, I am sure that you would find that fewer than 50% were actually good predictors of performance. 

Resume Screening Algorithms

When these myths are plugged into resume screening algorithms, they screen out people randomly.  This means that you have fewer resumes to read, but it also means that the ones you are reading are not better or worse than the ones you don’t. 

Another problem with the data that companies give to the algorithms is that that the choices are draconian because they are used as a thumbs-up or thumbs-down screen.  A better approach would be one where certain elements are given points (again, based on a validation study) and a cut-score is used.  For instance, let’s say that your algorithm selects out people who have had more than 3 jobs in 5 years.  You might be missing out on people who have several other very attractive things in their resumes.  And you would potentially be interviewing people with fewer attractive things on their resume but stayed at a job for 5 years.  Is that one thing really such a deal breaker at this stage of the process? 

The other hurdles that companies place in front of candidates in the algorithms are unnecessary educational requirements.  I’ve written about this on my own blog before, so I won’t get into the details here.  However, if you are going to validate other assumptions about what is predictive of success on resumes, you should do the same regarding educational requirements.  This will widen your pool and likely lead to an equally, if not more, qualified pool and one that is more diverse. 

Resume screening software is a very useful tool in pre-screening resumes.  Like any other computer program, they are only as good as the data that goes into them.  By ensuring that what you provide the algorithms is based on fact rather than myth, you will get a lot more out of the screens. 

About the Author

warren bobrow

Warren Bobrow, Ph.D. is the President of All About Performance. He specializes in employee selection, surveys, data analysis, manager & employee assessment, employee engagement, manager/leadership development, structured interviews, and organizational development. He works in a diverse range of industries, including government, NGOs, entertainment, hospitality, customer contact centers, finance, health care, petroleum, retail, distribution, telecommunications, utilities, and apparel manufacturing in North America, Europe, and Asia. Dr. Bobrow strives to create assessment and evaluation programs that a client can easily manage and are designed to meet their specific needs. He brings experience and creativity to projects, many of which include the use of technology to deliver the most value possible to clients.  Dr. Bobrow has provided his expert opinions in regulatory and administrative proceedings. 

Warren has his BA in psychology from the University of California, Irvine and his Ph.D. in industrial and organizational psychology from the University of Tennessee.  He is a licensed psychologist (PSY13646) in the state of California.

Inclusive Hiring Framework

Attracting, hiring, and retaining talent are critical elements of any Diversity, Equity & Inclusion plan. But having a diverse pool of candidates to choose from doesn’t just happen. Paying attention to sourcing techniques, the interview process, candidate evaluation and onboarding is necessary to developing a well-rounded workforce.

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