Friday, June 08, 2007

Resumes Versus Test Results

We often hear that HR departments obsess so much over the mythical "perfect match" that they consider only resumes showing prior responsibilities that are identical to a job posting's description. Though an applicant's past experience can't always predict future results, it's understandable that a realistic business person would want to know that anyone they offer a job has proven themselves in a similar role over a reasonable length of time. Resumes fulfill that self-evident need.

This doesn't sit well with Joseph Murphy, a Cleveland-based HR consultant and promoter of "objective candidate evaluation methods."

In a recent article on , Murphy contends that employers pay far too much attention to resumes, which he says are "often full of outright lies." Instead, he urges them to place more emphasis on "assessments" - tests, such as an online "Virtual Job Tryout" developed by Shaker Consulting Group - of which he's a principal and a vice president.

Employment tests often are proctored, applicants receive no outside assistance and usually are subject to a time limit. In contrast, Murphy points out, with resumes candidates routinely get professional help, may invest an unlimited amount of time, and game the screening process by carefully choosing keywords that will be noticed by employers' search engines.

He writes:

An assessment is a standardized request for information from the candidate. The request is exactly the same for each candidate: fair, consistent, and reliable. You get what you ask for.

A resume is an unpredictable submission of information (some fact, some fiction) by the candidate: biased, inconsistent, and unreliable. You get what they want to share.

What's wrong with this picture?

We've got nothing against honesty, reliability or objectivity. But throughout his lengthy article, Murphy avoids any mention of the resume's central purpose: to codify a candidate’s experience and track record. Instead, he seems to be pretending that a resume should be viewed primarily as a sample of the candidate’s work. Otherwise, why would he equate receiving outside help with "misrepresentation?"

Sure, resumes aren't objective, and sure, some candidates lie. But that just means HR and hiring managers need to earn their pay by making sure that resumes get fact-checked and references are called.

Are Your Resumes Valid? []
Psychological Testing: A Primer for Job Applicants [eFC]

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