What (Sorta) Works Today Won't Work in the Future

By Plum

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The Future of Work Will Require Organizations to Evolve Their Hiring Practices to Attract Top Talent


Part Two of Our "Talent and the Future of Work" Series. 

Whether you put the acute accent on your e’s of the word resume, or maybe call it a c.v. for curriculum vitae, talent acquisition professionals are inundated daily with this professional document. But it’s not actually the best tool for recruiting and identifying top talent.

Skills and knowledge are poor predictors of performance, but quantifying talent to identify people who can evolve and be ready for the future of work is a more reliable and predictive approach.

Resumes as the Be All End All

Surprisingly, the first professional resume is thought to have been written in 1482. Less surprising, it’s attributed to Leonardo da Vinci (who was also sketching tanks, helicopters, and parachutes among his thousands of inventions). Nevertheless, it wasn’t until the 1930s that resumes became commonly used, and by 1950 they were an expectation.

Then, in the mid-1990s, career-focused sites such as Monster and CareerBuilder launched as hubs for both job postings and resumes. Fast forward a decade more and we’ve moved away from the excitement of email resumes to LinkedIn profiles, YouTube video resumes, and digital CVs on social media.

Yet throughout these evolutions, the dependence on resumes to narrow the field and decide whom to interview has remained the same. You often have many jobs to fill, stacks of resumes to consider, and limited time and resources to do the legwork to find the right person for the job — a simple scan of skills and background is the best you can do.

A bad hire could cost you up to 5X the employee's annual salary.


Are Resumes Really Working?

Reviewing resumes as an initial screening practice isn’t actually all that reliable. While many in hiring rely on “gut instinct” and speak about “cultural fit,” research shows that:

  • Judgment processes vary (even within the same organization) in how people interpret resumes, which leads to inconsistency
  • Idiosyncratic patterns exist in talent professionals’ review of job applicants
  • Recruiters have difficulty remaining impartial, which perpetuates stereotypes and prejudices
  • People distort or ignore information that doesn’t support their preconceptions, which supports confirmation bias.

Plus, the focus on pre-existing skills and knowledge does little to anticipate the individual’s ability to do a job that doesn’t even exist yet. We talked last blog about the massive workforce migration on the horizon due to technological advances such as automation, AI, and machine learning. So, how exactly do you prepare for this challenging new future?

85% of jobs that will exist in 2030 have not been invented yet. 

— Institute for the Future

Scaling Up for the Future of Work

By 2030, it’s expected change will be so rapid that workers will need to be able to “learn ‘in-the-moment’ using new technologies such as augmented reality and virtual reality.” This ability to gain new knowledge can’t be demonstrated with a resume. So, if we want to truly step up and change for the future or work, we need to embrace a predictable, repeatable, and quantifiable approach. We need to measure for talents such as innovation, adaptability, communication, and leadership to identify the best candidates for the jobs of today and tomorrow too.

Talent professionals today are one of the few, if not the only, teams within the organization that lack a reliable approach to reporting their Return on Investment (ROI). Focusing on metrics such as “time-to-hire” and “time-to-fill” or evaluating your employment brand around how many applicants you get for a role/job isn’t taking candidate quality and talents into consideration.

Instead of incentivizing the quantity of people applying, or how quickly a position is filled, the focus needs to shift to metrics that truly say something about the predicted success and longevity of the new hires.

Much as Sales or Marketing is held accountable for putting predictable, quality leads in the pipeline, those in charge of recruiting and hiring need similar accountability. The number of resumes received predicts nothing. Yet baselines could be established for factors such as:

  • Turnover (voluntary/involuntary)
  • The cost of a bad hire (financial, reduced productivity, reduced morale, lost time, and more)
  • The contribution of a top-performer throughout their tenure.

This data can be used to turn the hiring funnel on its head. Move beyond investing a lot of time into a manual process that focuses on skills and knowledge and has low predictability. By automating the hiring/talent process at the outset, recruiters can reduce time spent and effectively and expediently weed out poor applicants.

Systemizing pre-employment, before your applicant pool is filtered helps ensure that you:

  • Filter through your vast amount of applicants and focus only on those who are a great match to save you time and money
  • Increase your chance of hiring the right candidate
  • Decrease the risk of indirect and hidden turnover costs.

Plus, with pre-employment scans systemized to focus on reliable indicators of the talent needed to nimbly manage work change, talent professionals get to add business value by reporting predictable, measurable success rates.

Our next blog will develop the case for predictive hiring and outline the advantages of industrial/organizational psychology to predict which people have the greatest potential for succeeding in any role, in any organization by measuring the ability to innovate, work ethic, culture, and more.