On the other side of a resume review

I have a problem with idealism. The problem is that I have it.

Yesterday, I helped the recruiting effort at work narrow down resumes. Imagine this: you're given a stack of 100+ ish resumes and you need to whittle them down to a maximum of 8 (I couldn't get it to below 10.)

Why is this task even vaguely related to idealism? When in school, I was often annoyed by the some of the drama thats involved in recruiting: the dinners, the meet-n-greets, the pressure/suggestions to show up to presentations/lunch-n-learns, the information sessions that devolve into "selling my resume" sessions, the phone calls from recruiters to gauge interest in a particular firm(not making this up.) My thought process was: you have our resumes, make your picks, call us for the interviews, and leave me alone to read my damn books (or just daydream while pretending to read my damn books...as the case may be.:)) This sucking up seemed unnecessary and a little too fake to me.

Then I tried separating candidates based on their resumes! Holy @$!@$!$@!*&^!!!

It took me so much longer than I thought it would, and the idealist in me who believed the key lay in the resume review, was hit by a 2-by-4.
I think I also kept imagining my own always hastily prepared resume in the pile. :)
  • Sweep 1: I thought I'd go through and give each resume a score from 1 to 5 to begin with. Then I realized I was giving everyone a 4 or 5.
  • Then sweep 2: add +s and -s.
  • Then I realized I was committing one of the most obvious biases out there: when candidates are hard to separate based on qualitative information, you automatically gravitate towards stuff that you can put numbers on and compare (GPAs, brand name schools, brand name companies, test scores.) Sweep 3: go back a sweep and account for that that bias.
  • Sweep 4: think about the positions we want to recruit for: I realized I should have been looking for slightly different things in the work-experience category, so went through one more time.
  • Sweep 5: the advantage of having a recent, fairly skeptical MBA grad look at the resumes: deciphered what the line on the MBA resume actually meant and whittled down the pile some more. Get a sense of wether a candidate actually wants this job, or had just thrown the resume in because....(question myself repeatedly whether that was my call to make, and decide against it)
  • Sweep 6: actually went to the additional section (and hated myself for doing that!) I've frowned on companies (particuarly consulting firms) in the past for focusing on hiring "interesting people." I'm fine with boring (but effective) people, as long as they don't try to bore me, but I've started seeing the uses of that section...
  • Sweep 7: the final trade-off sweep: dropping one perfectly amazing candidate after another, because a line needed to be drawn somewhere.
The randomness and subjectivity of the results is really troubling, but I can't imagine anyone doing much better or making a more sincere effort based just on the resumes (Modest, aren't I?:):)) Sure..you get better with time, and experience...but how much better can you get?
The take-away for people who're expecting stuff to happen based on a resume they've submitted:
  • The process is a little random; we try our best, but still... So don't take success or rejection at that stage too seriously.
  • If you think you're a great fit for a job, and you really want it, go beyond just throwing your resume in the pile.


meghaks said…
Were these all GSB resumes? Just curious to see if that was a bias for you as well...
Satyajeet said…
Nope; another b-school...I wouldn't do Chicago even if they asked.:)

Did resumes from yet another b-school today; this one was easier.:)

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