How to Hire Without Requiring a Resume

Julie Shenkman
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Forward-thinking companies are prepared to ditch the pointless resume parade to make sure the right candidate is still standing when the hiring process ends. Conventional methods waste valuable time and money, as recruiters often phase out the real talent early on by relying on self-reported data to refine the applicant pool. To ensure long-term fit, recruitment teams have to create a fair playing field in which candidates advance by showing what they can do upfront.

The first truth that old-school recruiters must acknowledge is that conventional does not equal effective. As the hiring process becomes increasingly competitive, many applicants are willing to risk filling their resumes with blatant lies and carefully crafted exaggerations. Resumes are also unstandardized and unkind to candidates with short or patchy work histories. They often favor people of higher socioeconomic backgrounds who are able to pursue unpaid internships, advanced degrees and enrichment activities.

The solution is to remove common sources of bias from the hiring process by making a blind skills assessment the first step in vetting candidates, says Tim Yocum, an operations specialist at Compose. The company requests a short work sample instead of the traditional resume and cover letter, giving applicants the perfect opportunity to show their skills and creative thought process. Yet, a skills-based system still requires structure and standardization to prevent inconsistent scoring. After floundering with a freeform sample system, Compose developed a hiring app that gives applicants a job-related task, such as a coding sample.

The review staff receives anonymous submissions. The individual responses of all candidates are also randomized, helping reviewers overcome the tendency to overrate or underrate successive answers based on the previous ones. The staff receive clear judgment criteria with each question, and reviewers include a diverse group of team members who understand how the company works and have firsthand experience in the applicant’s field. Most importantly, this efficient hiring process does not waste manpower or lead to uninformative interviews filled with impractical questions. By the interview stage, the human resources team knows every candidate can do the job.

Although the conventional hiring process has evolved, the trend of emphasizing cultural fit before skills and potential inadvertently promotes damaging values. Recruiters are forced to make complex judgments based on shallow standards, opening the door to misinterpretation and discrimination. App developer Detroit Labs — another resume deserter — overcomes superficiality by involving their existing employees in the prescreening and interview phases.

Applicants are screened with a detailed questionnaire, which current staff help refine based on the real-world roles and obstacles of the position. Since employees have the most insight into daily operations, they help review responses and decide which candidates are contacted for interviews. Returning candidates complete informational and technical interviews, allowing recruiters to observe their skills in action and see how they interact with other employees. Unsurprisingly, Detroit Labs boasts a low turnover rate.

Humans have the unique ability to present themselves however they wish, so a skills assessment is the only absolute criteria businesses can use to evaluate job performance. From personality to communication style, all other factors are uncertain and difficult to measure before making a hire. To find and retain the most compatible employees, recruiters must design a hiring process that accurately simulates the company’s workflow and values.

Photo courtesy of pakorn at



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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Daniel thanks for your comment. It can be depressing no doubt but you just have to keep going. You have to remember that even today companies are being inundated with resumes and it takes longer to respond. Make sure that you are qualified for the position and you are sending a resume using keywords from the postings. Take the time to review the company and learn something about them so that you can send the best possible resume. Create a career summary that makes the hiring company want to call you for the interview. Also, make sure that you are treating the job search as a job. Not just sending in a resume here and there but seriously sitting down, combing through postings and submitting to those you are qualified for. Your day will come also. All the best to you.

  • Daniel C.
    Daniel C.

    l feel very depressing. when l post for jobs...l dont receive any notice about obyerviews...l am very confused. about this process.

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