Is a Resume the Abacus of the 21st Century?

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When it comes to assessing Â?human capital," top recruiting professional believes that resumes just don't add up

In the old days…when "hardware" referred to hammers and nails and a conversation about "software" usually included the topic of cashmere sweaters…a resume and an interview were all that was necessary for hiring managers and recruiters to identify top candidates for their companies. However in today's technology-driven marketplace, recruitment professional Eva Jenkins says, "Companies who want only the very best people on staff -- people with the right skills and the right background and education and the right temperament -- are starting to realize that it takes more than a resume… to peel off the layers of an applicant in order to make the very best possible hiring decision."

Jenkins believes that for job seekers, but more importantly, for recruiters and hiring managers a more comprehensive, multi-faceted approach to staffing is vital. "Assessing 'human capital' for value, potential growth, and ultimate value is a challenge," she says, "but the return on the investment of time and energy in the hiring phase can pay off handsomely for years to come."

Jenkins feels that the importance of "investing in 'blue chip' employees" and the far-reaching effects quality executives and staffers have on the success of a business warrant a "more thoughtful, measured, and multi-dimensional approach to hiring.”

Although technology is developing tools that enable companies to better attract, select and hire their employees, the philosophy at VIP is that an "industry standard" for recruitment is still a ways off. "I think that an electronic system sophisticated enough for recruiters and hiring managers to use for collecting hiring data that will lead to choosing more qualified personnel in faster time frames is probably at least 5-10 years in the future," says Jenkins. Until that time, Jenkins believes that some technology originally designed to assist managers may actually evolve to a point where it works against them.

The recruiting marketplace is rich with products and providers intended to streamline, simplify, and improve hiring, but there is "more duplication than innovation," says Jenkins. They also lack the capability to be truly effective in the most critical phase of all -- "human capital acquisition."

One obstacle in the "acquisition" process is that recruiters and human resource professionals have not yet fully defined precisely what they need. Compounding the problem is the "disconnect" that often exists between the hiring managers' job description and the real needs of a company.

Executive Recruiting firms and so-called "hiring authorities" who were being inundated with paper and electronic resumes have turned to assessment tracking systems (ATS) to pick out only those resumes rich in specific "buzz words" related to the position that needs to be filled. Although the winnowing out process can be time saving, too often "perfectly good qualified people cannot even get their resumes read because of all this nonsense," says Jenkins. That's tough on job seekers, but companies are the real losers, she points out.

In response to technology that targets keywords like a heat-seeking missile, many recruiters continue to urge job seekers to modify their resumes and bulk them up with keywords related to the job description of the position they're vying for. "To me this is a real sin," says Jenkins. "Why would you tell a person to modify his or her resume to mirror the job description when there is so much more to a position then most poorly written job descriptions begin to address."

From the in-house perspective, Jenkins wonders how companies can truly evaluate the potential of their "human capital" if their selection process is so flawed. "It's too dangerous to base decisions on the information in a document that's been created to look and sound right for the job…even when the candidate isn't," she warns.

According to a number of sources, resumes are not a true reflection of the person. Statistically, the number of people who tend to exaggerate their backgrounds and experiences is staggering.

In an April 2004 online survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, 55% said they found inaccuracies in the resumes they reviewed. More than 44% of respondents to a Korn/Ferry online survey said they believed that resume fraud among executives is increasing.

Jenkins acknowledges the problems that exist for employers and job seekers, but notes that there is a range of options to make the process more effective. One strategy she recommends to recruiters is to create job descriptions that "actually tell a story about a position." Instead of vague generalities, a description that outlines "what that position needs to accomplish within the next 6-12 months and what is expected long term is a good start," she says.

And Jenkins is quick to point out that harnessing technology, rather than being victimized by it is important. "Electronic profiles which extract only those exact experiences, skill sets, education which can be background-checked and referenced is the next good qualifier," she says.

However, according to Jenkins, the real litmus test for the value of human capital is a mix of assessments that measures the "total person." For VIP Staffing and VIP Innovations, Jenkins says, "I interview the executives several times, write my own executive profile, have them take one of my assessments, and conduct background and reference checks."

Only after this exhaustive, in-depth process…the antithesis of the "we forward all resumes" recruiters -- does Jenkins agree to represent a candidate. "For my business to succeed, I need 'perfect matches,' not people who are just 'good enough.'" She believes that companies looking for long-term, low-turnover employees need to put in the same level of time and effort.

What's the best way to hire? There are more questions then answers now, says Jenkins, but there is much "improvement needed from all sides." Technology seems to be the only real crucial way to make sense of all this mess, but first we have to make sense of the technology. And even then, the "human touch" will always be an important part of assessing human capital.

Jenkins acknowledges that not every single recruiter, human resources manager or hiring manager knows how to conduct interviews, administer and interpret assessments, background checks, etc. Even if they have tremendous experiences with one set of tools, she says their toolbox may be a little light when it comes to having everything that's needed to ensure a truly accurate hiring decision. "I think that's why companies like VIP are doing so well," she says. "Our clients turn to us to help them navigate the constantly changing waters of recruitment…and to keep them off the reefs!"

For media inquiries, interviews, and further information, please contact: contact Eva Jenkins at (202) 973-0179 or for more information on VIP Staffing, LLC or its sister company VIP Innovations.


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