What is a resume? It's a marketing document that details your successes in your career. (Some poorly written resumes simply detail assigned tasks, but that's a topic for another day.) It also tells the recruiter and hiring manager where you went to school and what you studied. Your name is at the top, which can give pretty good insight into your race, gender, and even the socio-economic class in which you were raised.
What happens if you throw all those things out? The Wall Street Journal reports on companies who are doing just that-throwing out the resume and doing something called "blind hiring." Instead of poring over resumes, they ask candidates to complete tasks, and the hiring manager decides who to interview, based on these tasks. All the manager sees are the results of the projects-not where the person went to school, not the names of the companies where the person previously worked.
It's an interesting proposition. People do place far too much emphasis on brand names than on ability. You know that someone who went to Harvard has a high IQ, but you don't know that that person is right for your job. Someone who worked at Google might be fantastic for your position, but they may be the absolutely wrong person. Just because someone attended a no-name school or worked at a company you've never heard of, doesn't mean they aren't fabulous. Skipping the resume, eliminates this type of bias.
The other biases it reduces are gender, race or age biases. You look at some code, or you read a marketing document without any idea whether that person is a 50-year-old Black man or a 22-year-old Hispanic woman. You have no idea, and that's good. You want to hire based on performance, not on appearance.
Doing this type of blind hiring (or at least blind selection-these companies conduct interviews wherein all these things will be revealed) does have some problems. First of all, there are a group of talented individuals who will simply not play that game.
A couple of years ago, the recruiter for a major media outlet wanted me to write up three or four sample articles to present to the managing editor. I flat out said no. I have well over a thousand articles online, and I would be happy to pick some for her to present. No, she said, she needed new articles. I said, "thanks but no thanks." I'm not the only experienced professional who would respond the same way.
Now, if I had been desperate for work, I would have written the articles for them, but I wasn't. And that is one of the problems with this method or hiring. The people who are willing to produce work have to want to work for you more than you want them to work for you.
Now, that may be fine, but it eliminates a whole slate of quality candidates. Someone who a long track record of success doesn't need to work for your company, but you may need them.
It's a great idea. The Chief Executive of Compose, a company that uses this method of hiring, found that managers were picking people who they connected with personally or other factors that had little impact on actual performance. They found this blind screening was much better at getting the right people on board.
An advertising firm reported hiring someone who they would never have offered to interview based on a campaign she put together. That's fabulous, and I'm sure it's a great fit. But, how do you design a project that takes only a few hours that demonstrates someone's ability to run a $20 million supply chain? You can't. You need to rely on their past performance.
This task-oriented hiring is a fantastic idea for low-level jobs but fails when it comes to senior staff. Strip off names and schools and even company names (although you'd want to replace the name of the company with information such as market capitalization and the number of employees, as those make a difference). Then select who to interview from that group.
Asking for project work can definitely bring in people who would be fabulous but don't have the experience or who are looking to change careers. But don't look to recruit everyone at every level with this method.