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Online Resume Submissions – The Black Hole

Written by: Giselle Saati, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Hiring is hard, there is no denying it. But HR’s strategy to meet this challenge is nothing short of counterproductive, ineffective, and unimaginative. Word on the street today is that recruiters are having a hard time finding talent and yet there are many intelligent and willing people still unemployed. It’s as if the laws of economics are being defied with the demand and supply curve never quite reaching an equilibrium. You would think that HR would question their hiring methodologies, but unfortunately, the majority of HR departments have adopted a “box ticking” mentality with little ability to analyze and come up with a better solution. Despite being called human resources, there is very little “human” in the hiring process. It may sound harsh; but it’s about time that recruiters in HR got a reality check.

What sparked me to write about this, was a recent blog post from Dr. Ingo Rauth, a professor at IE University and a dear friend of mine. In his “Application Marathon”, he provides tips for applicants on how to draft a better resume and avoid the rejection loop.¹ He will be happy to know that I am writing this essay to rebut his article and all the other lame articles on proper resume writing and hiring. The reality is, you can write all the wonderful, custom resumes until the cows come home, and it won’t raise your probably of getting the first interview. Submitting your resume online is like sending your resume into a black hole, never to be seen ever again.

For simplicity’s sake, I will only address the first blockade, the online resume submission. According to a report published by Accenture and the Harvard Business School, more and more companies are using recruitment software to sift through applications and resumes quickly.² These software technologies are programmed to pick up keywords, that in most cases, match the job description and qualifications. Some examples include credentials such as bachelor’s degree, or MBA, or certificates and licenses like the CFA, Mortgage Agent, etc. Over the years, job descriptions have increased in complexity and length of requirements that it seems to have blown out of proportion for even the most basic jobs. For instance, in searching through dishwasher jobs on Indeed, I marvelled at some of the requisites: needs to have 6 months of experience, Toronto public Health Food Handlers Certificate, experience maintaining the machine, etc. Really? I could probably teach someone how to clean dishes in 5 minutes. Do recruiters understand that with every requirement they add, the narrower the goal posts and the probability that they will find talent? Not to mention the fact that women are less likely to apply to a job they don’t feel qualified for.³ So much for diversity and inclusion. According to the Accenture report, 88% of employers believed that qualified high-skilled candidates were vetted out of the process because the application did not match the job description and that number rose to 94% for middle-skilled candidates.²

The AI recruitment software is also not capable of “reading in between the lines”, simply because it doesn’t read, it only scans and searches. For the most part, it weeds out applicants with long employment gaps of six months or more. Some examples include: a woman who took a pause to raise a child, a person needing time off due to a physical or mental illness, caring for an elderly family member, relocation due to a new job from a spouse, or even prolonged hardship of not being able to find a job quickly; would all be “hidden” from the recruiter’s eyes.² In 2017 when I completed my MBA, it took a year and a half to get a job. I was either over-qualified or under-qualified and I felt completely stuck. Not only were my chances of getting a job diminishing over time, but also my confidence. It wasn’t until 4 years later, that I learned about the correlation between unemployment and poor well-being. I was giving a presentation to a management team on well-being and displayed the research pulled from a Landmark study published by The Economic Journal. The chart below compares a single year of unemployment to a major tragic event, such as the death of a spouse. People who’ve experienced long-term unemployment (a year or more), do not fully recover after 5 years and not as rapidly. The reason being, is that our careers are very intricately linked to our identity and purpose. Also, the loss of income and daily boredom have devastating effects on our well-being.

The very system that recruiters in HR are using to maximize efficiency and reduce costs, impedes on hiring of talent for the organization, reduces the diversity of skills, and contributes to the number of discouraged people who drop out of the workforce.

I did a quick Google search to learn about the origin of resumes, and to my astonishment, many prestigious magazines like Forbes, credit Leonardo Da Vinci, for submitting the first ever resume in 1482. The Forbes article, written by Dawn Graham, was intended to teach job seekers how to create an effective resume tailored to recruiters’ needs—“it isn’t about you, it’s about the value and abilities you bring”. There is some truth in what she writes. Leonardo Da Vinci did draft a letter to Duke Ludovico Sforza in Milan, listing nine military instruments or machineries (which he calls his ‘secrets’) he aspired to create and sums it up with his artistic ability to build him a bronze horse, which was commissioned by the duke a few years ago. Despite the ambition and good intentions of the letter, there are two problems with this example. One, it was never sent to the duke, which would mean that it did not earn him the coveted role he yearned for. In fact, Leonardo went to Milan as a musician and played the violin lyre at court. Second, none of the items listed were his past accomplishments, it was simply a list of things he aspired to create. Leonardo Da Vinci’s career up until then (likely in his 30s), was complicated with a mixed reputation of brilliance and frustration. In 1476, he was involved in a homosexual case followed by another scandal a year later. Also, many of the artworks he started, he never completed. In Florence, his brilliance was noticed but was never given the same praise as the French did later in his life.

Had Leonardo Da Vinci, been living in this current time, I highly doubt anyone would hire him. He lacks the hyper-specialization that our school systems and industries have created. This calls into question the value of our education today. With the ever-changing pace of technology, we never seem to have enough skills or qualifications to do the job. In general, unemployed people do not have the financial resources to continuously take courses to meet these new standards and employers are reluctant to invest in training or virtual courses.² From an employer’s standpoint, they could be reluctant to invest in skills development as the employees could walk out at any given moment. But the talent pool shrinks as a result because it gets increasingly more difficult to find people with up-to-date skills. Also, employers should know by now that the research in investing into skills development proves otherwise. Gallup has published many reports showing that strategic investment in employee development has an 11% increase in profitability and are twice as likely to retain their employees.

If perchance a human did read a resume, how should they read it? According to Kristi DePaul, CEO of Founders and personal branding expert, recruiters spend 10 seconds scanning your resume. This is just as bad as the AI software. How on earth can you properly decide on a person getting to the next round in 10 seconds? What if that person is changing industries and has a lot of transferable skills, would someone make those connections that quickly in scanning a resume? Again, HR might say they promote “diversity”, but their actions show that they have little time to think outside their checklist of wants.

During an interview for the Ontario Provincial Police, the officer questioned my wavering career path into several different industries. Traditionally, recruiters are programmed to think it’s bad if you’ve had multiple jobs lasting between 1 to 4 years. They assume you might be a “flight risk” as you might leave if the job doesn’t suit you. That assumption blocked the officer from being curious. The question came with a great deal of skepticism and suspicion. I proposed that she shift her mindset from seeing a dubious person to one with impeccable range. There are many reasons why my career has uniquely shaped the way it is, and the story is worth listening to, and that goes for everyone. Also, since when was trial and error a bad thing? I highly recommend recruiters read the book Range by David Epstein. He argues that individuals who are well-rounded and who’ve had a “sampling period”, found work that better fit their skills and personalities than those that specialized early. His research goes into extensive detail, and he gives several examples of highly successful individuals such as Roger Federer, who sampled many other sports before he chose tennis. Keep in mind Leonardo Da Vinci lived in the Renaissance, where a range of skills was highly sought-after, not hyper specialization. Furthermore, the range of skills that he had, contributed to the great number of innovations he produced.

The Accenture Report summed it up perfectly “Employer hiring practices are the single most significant impediment to talent flow”.² Still, the global recruitment technology market had grown to $1.75 billion in 2017 and is expected to grow to $3.1 billion by 2025.² In many ways, recruiters remind me of the people who complain about their weight but do all the wrong things and take up the latest diet fads to lose weight. I wonder if they are doing any work since they have software to scan resumes and they don’t even read the ones that get through to them (I’ll leave interviews for another time). My suggestion to recruiters:

  1. Simplify the job description and remove some of the absurd requirements

  2. Simplify the application process

  3. Read the resume—don’t make assumptions and be curious

  4. Be generous. If you really want to serve your community and better society, give the person a call and hear their story.

What I’m asking is harder, but it will certainly wield more interesting results – results that may prove to be more highly successful and lasting than scanning and ticking the proper boxes. The proof will be in its implementation. Systemization works highly efficiently in a production line but is not as fail proof in evaluating and summing up an individual’s ability, character, and desire to do the work and their willingness to achieve.

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Giselle Saati, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Giselle Saati is a performance consultant with over 10 years of experience in counseling and personal training. Her unique career path along with her academic background has enabled her to create the Fortitude platform that is unparalleled to any HR consultancy. She has a deep passion for helping individuals maximize their full potential and embodies the slogan "Strength of character and resoluteness that permits one to face adversity and suffering courageously."





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