Resume screening discriminates against early talent

result of resume screening

Does your organization take non-discrimination seriously? Really? Or is it just another compliance issue to contend with? If you do take it seriously and I have no reason to believe that you do not, how do you reconcile screening applicants based on resumes with your intent to be non-discriminatory? That  is a question worth exploring.

Not only does resume screening actively discriminate against early talent, an increasingly important segment of the talent pool, it also discriminates against other non-standard applicants such as those in job transition (another form of early talent) or those who have been unemployed for an extended period of time.

How do your applicants get noticed for their talents, not just what is written on resumes  based on an ever more complex set of rules to comply with for submitting a resume. Quite honestly it is daunting to almost impossible to get noticed with resume screening unless the applicant has exactly the background as documented on the resume that the hiring manager is looking for.

In the June 2014  issue of HR magazine on page 18, there is a very short snapshot of what HR managers are looking for when an applicant submits a resume. This is one of the major reasons that I have started my own business BTW. To start with, keep in mind that close to 80% of resumes are inaccurate. So all of this required content and the decisions that are based on that content are based on mostly inaccurate information. No wonder that 80% of those selected either under perform or outright fail.

The snap shot indicates that it takes less than five minutes to decide if a candidate moves to the next interview stage. I think that may be generous. That assumes that the resume gets past the screening software in the first place which is a big if. 93% of HR mangers said that inaccuracies have a negative impact on decisions to offer interviews. Before we move on, let’s consider what that means. Have you ever tried to get all of your online content to be consistent so that Google does not ignore your business? Try it some time. I just went through that ordeal as I started my business. Probably 20 to 30 hours scouring through everything that I have ever posted about my contact information, my tag lines, my bio, my locations, my products, my services, and it goes on and on. Then setting up SEO for my web site to be in absolute sync with all of the other online information. Most of you have an IT department and a marketing department to do that for you, but a job applicant? Seriously, they have to figure out all of that themselves. If the data does not match, HR says it is inaccurate. The dates on jobs do not match exactly. How about descriptions of roles and duties? How about gaps in employment that the applicant is embarrassed about and tries to cover up? What if online data does not match what is on the resume? What is inaccurate, the resume or the online data? This is a virtually impossible screen to overcome. Is screening against inaccuracies just another way to whittle down a huge digital pile of resumes? Another way to discriminate? I wonder.

So here is what I am supposed to do as an applicant. I am supposed to know what HR wants so that I can provide it. So what does HR want? Here is what that short little snap shot says and there is far more, just consider what you might be looking for.

  • Must provide recent 8-10 years of relevant job experience? Good luck if you are in transition or are early talent with this one.
  • 66% wanted chronological resumes that start with the most current. If you have been out of work for a year, isn’t that going to look interesting.
  • 43% wanted the resume to be bulleted? So what do the others want? No bullets?
  • 43% want the resume tailored to the specific industry. I am an OD guy. So does that mean that if my experience is in tech I cannot work in medical? BTW that is what I have been directly told. OD work in a non-medical industry is not useful in the medical industry. I guess people are not the same kind of people there.
  • 57% say to neither emphasize nor hide employment gaps. Does that mean that 43% want the resume to be falsified? How is that going to work with the 93% who say that inaccuracies have an negative impact on the applicant?

So here is my plea to you. Please consider screening applicants, both internal and external, based on inherent genetic behavioral and cognitive talent. Genetics accounts for 50% of an applicants success. The first question must be is the applicant suited for the work that is required? Each type of work has a genetic signature, a clear profile of the talent that is needed to succeed in the role. There are no good or bad talents, only poor matches or good matches between a persons talent and the talent profile for the role they are in. And it turns out that screening all applicants is not only easy but inexpensive.

Do we need to discover the best fits for talent early in peoples careers rather than 20 years later? Do we need to discover talent and then build resumes, not screen on resumes only to discover that the talent did not match the talent profile of the position? If we do this, maybe we can truly act on overcoming discrimination of quality applicants in all phases of their lives. We will no longer discriminate against those who are diamonds in the rough and will, with a small amount of resume building, become stars.

If you are interested in exploring this topic further, contact John Inman at or call at 425-954-7256.