Skip to content

Do You Need to Require Resumes for Job Applications?

Many employers believe that giving employees promotions and raises is the only way to get them to stay. And while those

The world has changed a lot in the last two years – is the typical job application process changing as well? In the past, submitting a resume for job applications was so standard it wasn’t even questioned. But the use of resumes has created and even enhanced bias in the hiring process – so many HR teams are looking for a better way. 

Why Requiring a Resume for Job Applications is Tricky 

It’s come to light that resumes are far from the simple one- or two-page tools businesses can use to hire equitably. They can actually introduce a lot of bias into the hiring process, and so many organizations are doing away with them

Nubian Meehan, Account Executive at Cangrade, also notes that research shows that resumes aren’t reliable at indicating whether an applicant is suited for a new role. “If you’re in marketing at a small credit union versus an international bank, you’re going to have completely different skill sets – so it’s not always clear if that previous industry experience will transfer to your next job. A lot is tied to organizational components – did you work independently, or on a team, did you have the ability to set and track your own goals and accomplishments or did someone else manage that, can you think big picture or focus on the task at hand? There are so many different factors that come into play that determine if someone is the right fit for a role beyond a list of experiences.”

In fact, there are benefits to a hiring process without the use of resumes. Not only is bias reduced because there are fewer indicators about the applicant’s race and gender right in front of the hiring manager, but it can also reduce costs and speed up hiring

As this Harvard Business Review article illustrates, a resume-free approach tends to work better for businesses that need to hire entry-level workers in industries with high turnover. 

And part of the pros of not requiring a resume for job application is that it helps avoid promising candidates from being rejected from a position by an algorithm that doesn’t recognize their skills or punishes them for not knowing how to use keywords, or decides that since the company mostly hires men it wants to continue to do that.  

The Pros of Using Resumes 

But using a resume for job applications does have several benefits in the hiring process – that’s why they’re so popular. 

They allow employers to screen for hard skills quickly and provide a summary of their experience at a glance. A resume is an effective blurb about an applicant’s career that can provide enough information to allow recruiters and hiring managers to know if they might be a good fit. 

Nubian notes that resumes can still play a part in the hiring process – just not where they’ve typically been used. And that difference comes down to scale. 

When your HR team receives hundreds of applications for a single open position, scanning that many resumes manually simply isn’t feasible. And using AI to do that work can lead to candidates stuffing resumes with keywords instead of telling a clear story about their career. 

Instead of requiring the use of resumes, Nubian suggests using pre-hire assessments as an initial screening tool. “Our assessments really give you the best insights into a candidate’s traits and competencies that might not be evident on their resume. There have been studies done on the skills people will list on their resumes – with significant disparities among demographics. There’s a lot of room to miss valuable information when relying purely on resumes.” 

Then, if you’d still prefer to review resumes, your recruiters can do so after the pre-hire assessment has narrowed down the pool of applicants to a manageable number. 

And to keep bias to a minimum in the hiring process, he recommends using structured interviews as well whether or not you require a resume for job applications. Cangrade’s structured interview guides are tied to the pre-hire assessment results so you can evaluate candidates based on what truly it takes to succeed.