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The importance of the original resume

August 31, 2018 / by Liz Kofman-Burns, Ph.D.

Employees, consumers and the public demand tangible improvement in diversity and inclusion at America’s top companies. They are tired of the talk and rhetoric they want to see action with results. There is a new crop of HR products has hit the market that promise to mitigate bias by making changes to the hiring process. With the spirit of innovation and progress we as a company succeed, our clients succeed and more importantly, job candidates are exposed to more opportunities.

We learned a hard lesson as one of the first companies to enter the D&I space—when implementing technology designed to manage bias during the hiring process don’t mess with the original resume format! Our technology redacts applicants’ names as well as university names from resumes so that reviewers can focus on what matters. Everything else about the resume, the design, the writing, the font, it all stays the same—the way managers like it.

There are three reasons why we’ve found it’s important to allow hiring teams to review resumes as close as possible to their original formatting in order to manage bias throughout the hiring funnel:

  • Hiring managers insist on seeing resumes in their original formatting. Hiring managers do not like the canned content that comes from a form filled application or parsed resume. People and companies have tried to pry the resumes away from them without success. In fact, hiring managers revolt when you try. They argue that they wanted to see how a candidate presents themselves through the resume as a whole.
  • Change management made easier. Decades of resume audit studies have shown that candidate names bring out bias in reviewers. So you would think it’s a no-brainer to remove candidate names from the process. However, even small changes in the hiring process can make hiring managers wary. Mitigating bias should be transparent in the process and fit in seamlessly so as not to have an adverse reaction from the user. That said, it will take some work. Anything HR can do to make adoption of mitigating bias smoother and faster is a plus. Redacting a resume digitally and asking hiring managers to review them is much easier than having another person black out portions by hand which could disrupt the very nature of the resume. Managers want it to be as familiar to them as possible.
  • Give candidates control over how they present themselves. Candidates use resumes to present their skills, experiences, and accomplishments in a way that can be tailored to a particular position or company. How a resume is formatted, written and presented can give hiring teams insight into a candidate’s writing ability, organization skills, and even creativity. While there is no perfect way to assess a candidate, a resume provides deeper insight into a candidate’s skills and abilities.  Resumes allow the candidate to be an individual as opposed to looking like all the other candidates that parsing and form fields produce in addition to not surfacing relevant information. Resumes give candidates the most control over what hiring teams see.

Removing bias and unconscious bias from candidate screening is critical to ensure a fair hiring process with better hiring outcomes. Redacted resume review presents the candidate’s original resume while omitting or redacting personal identifying information to keep reviewers and hiring managers from making bias decisions. This is the gold standard, both in terms of impact and adoption.

About the author: Dr. Kofman-Burns received both her undergrad from Middlebury in Political Science and Sociology. She went on to receive her masters and doctorate from UCLA in Sociology. Dr. Kofman-Burns has been instrumental in driving awareness about diversity in hiring. Additionally, she played a pivotal role in the creation of TalVista’s job description optimizer.

For more information, visit www.talvista.com

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