A business owner, a dyslexic, and a scientist need to hire the best talent available – that sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, right?
To me it’s no joke at all. I am dyslexic. It turns out that about 15-20 percent of the general population, 35 percent of entrepreneurs, and many scientists and engineers are dyslexic, so I’m not alone. I am currently an entrepreneur/business owner, and previously, I was a research scientist. So maybe I should say I am all three – a dyslexic, scientist entrepreneur.
For me, and maybe for you too, resumes are a nightmare, a cacophony of disorganized, time-consuming information.
The Problem With Resumes
For the dyslexic me, when there is a lot of input – whether its auditory or visual; text, colors, people, movement, music, or any combination of these – it’s hard to figure out what is important. I can and do figure it out, but it probably takes me more time than it takes you. Multiple or disorganized inputs feel overwhelming, and combined with increased processing time, it all causes me to feel stupid – a label I’ve struggled against most of my life.
Reading resumes makes me feel stupid. They are time-consuming and difficult tools for me to use when the goal is to identify useful comparative information about people. Reviewing resumes makes me feel frustrated, and when I feel frustrated, I feel stupid, helpless, and angry – all of which drive me to practice task avoidance.
I bet that the task of resume reading might make you practice task avoidance, too, even if you’re not dyslexic.
While each individual resume seems organized, clear, and complete, no two resumes are alike. We all believe that no two people are alike, so it might seem reasonable that my resume (or yours, or any candidate’s resume) is unique. But to my dyslexic brain, a pile of resumes is a pile of noisy documents with randomly placed (buried) critical information.
To be an effective dyslexic business owner, I want decision-critical information filtered so that it is manageable and highlights the key things that are most important. I prefer an oral report, a table, or a graph any day over three pages of text or a huge spreadsheet. (That’s the scientist in me talking.)
When it comes to hiring decisions, I want the same information about each person presented in the same way and in the same place on the page. And I want different information from candidates, depending on the job title being considered. Lastly, I want to be sure that every candidate who applies has a fair chance and knows what I care about when I’m hiring.
Here’s my challenge to you: Compare any two resumes you might have tucked away in a folder somewhere. Use the resumes to figure out how many years of experience each candidate has doing a specific job, or executing a specific type of work, or fulfilling a key responsibility, or even doing a single key skill. Pick something that you care about for determining the quality of prospective candidates. Now find the same exact information in another resume, and then another. How long did it take to find what you were looking for? Was it productive and enjoyable work? Now consider repeating this for 10 or 20 or more applicants.
How Technology Can Help
By now, you’re probably saying, “I’ll just use the search function to find resumes that contain a few keywords.” Sounds like a good solution, but how does the candidate know which keywords are the the ones I care about? Additionally, I’m still stuck reading all the resumes that were returned in the search. Finally, candidates get wise to this practice and load their resumes with keywords, making the documents even more time-consuming to read.
What we need are tools that are imagined and invented to clearly present the information that employers care about most when hiring for specific employment opportunities. Managers, owners, and HR professionals know what skills, experience, and work behaviors are crucial to on-the-job success. Technology should empower the employer to ask every candidate who is applying for a given position the same specific questions the employer cares about.
This technology should also present candidate information (their answers to the questions you asked) in the same way, in the same place, and in a searchable format. You won’t have to spend your valuable time hunting through resumes to find the information you know is crucial.
If you can list the key skills, experiences, and behaviors, you should be able to craft the right questions to ask your candidates, and the right search tools should help you quickly identify those candidates who have the key qualifications. Lastly, you should be sure that every candidate has a fair chance to provide the key information, raising the confidence level of your sorting and screening processes.
Whether you’re a dyslexic business owner or a busy entrepreneur, a busy manager, or a busy HR professional, it’s time to kill the resume and join the revolution to rationalize and streamline the recruiting process.
About the Author:
Leora Baumgarten is vice president at NewHire. Leora is an expert when it comes to hiring and recruiting for SMBs. When she’s not at the office, you can find her swimming in Lake Michigan.