Resumes Are Dead, So Here’s a Three Step Plan for Better Hiring

'If you are assuming that all the candidates are coming to you, you are literally missing 70 percent of the job seekers'

At the end of any ad about investment funds, there’s always that disclaimer, some version of “Past performance is no indicator of future performance.” Allan Telio argues that the same message should be stamped on every potential candidate’s resume.

History is filled with people who failed at everything until they found their calling, Telio argues, citing Walt Disney and Kurt Vonnegut as two examples who failed badly until they became runaway successes. That’s why Telio pronounces, “Resumes are dead.”

Telio made the remarks at Boston’s DisruptHR event in March 2016, but the presentation just went up on Vimeo yesterday. At the time, the former mock presidential candidate worked for the Startup Institute, a company that prepares workers for roles in the tech industry. He moved to the design company Ideo in October, according to LinkedIn.

His first argument: resumes introduce bias. A hiring manager could start looking exclusively for people who went to a top 25 school, only people who’d worked for unicorn startups or who live in a major city. When there is a giant pile of resumes in front of someone at the beginning of a hiring process, they want reasons to cull candidates.

An imperfect reason for moving applications to the “no” pile could eliminate the very best pick. “The people we need to be finding,” Telio contends, “are often the people who don’t have access to all the opportunity.” The very aspect that makes someone look good on paper might also be the reason they won’t work as hard once hired.

Telio specifically cites SessionM as a company that has changed its hiring process so its team can see the real person behind that piece of paper. The Boston-based loyalty marketing company had some bad fits after relying on the traditional interview-resume process early on. Two years into its existence, it created a much deeper series of interactions for potential new hires.

“You have to implement a process that really gets to the heart of the matter,” Mark Herrman, a co-founder of SessionM, told the Observer in a phone call. For them, that’s looking for candidates whose personalities mesh with its existing team and who approach work in a similar way to others in the still fairly small organization.

Telio goes on to say that a resume also might not capture a person’s side hustle. Does the candidate show how much they care about their work with projects on their own time? An engineer who goes to hackathons on the weekend or has an open-source software project on Github may be considerably more invested in learning more about code than one who got a computer science degree because a career counselor said there would be a lot of good jobs.

“Side hustles are one of the main differentiators between people who are genuinely passionate about their craft and people who are doing it for a job,” Telio said.

Like any good talk at a conference, he leaves his listeners with action steps. Here’s his three part solution to better hiring:

  1. Develop an outbound strategy.
    “If you are assuming that all the candidates are coming to you, you are literally missing 70 percent of the job seekers,” Telio said. Most hires come from referrals, not from people responding to job listings. If companies don’t have a way to find job seekers in its network, they might be missing out on great candidates, such as those who are open to a new job but aren’t actively looking.
  2. Blow up your interview process.
    Multiple rounds of interviews aren’t enough. For example, Telio argues that people should come in and actually do some work with your team. Herrmann said that his company brings the strongest candidates in for a very long interview with its full team at once. If that works well, they give the candidate a week to work on an assignment, then come in and pitch their work to everyone. That lets them see how a candidate thinks.
  3. Invest more in internal recruiting.
    This one really goes back to his his first point. Internal recruiting might mean holding events that could attract people in fields a company is hiring for in order to built its network. Large organizations might open up their space in the evening for meetups by other organizations or smaller companies. Lots of tech companies like to sponsor hackathons and send engineers out to help teams with their work. One way to find money for this kind of investment: shift some budget from paying recruiters.

Herrmann said that SessionM hasn’t hired a bad fit since it upended its process. Asking people to do a bit of work and present it has been especially helpful, because he’s seen great interviewees do bad work and introverted prospects shine when given an opportunity to show their talents.

It might sound like a big investment for everyone involved, but it’s probably better than the alternative. Herrmann said, “We all know that once you’ve had a bad hire, it’s really painful to unwind.”


Resumes Are Dead, So Here’s a Three Step Plan for Better Hiring