Why Employers Should Not Rely on Resumes

For some employers, making hiring decisions based solely on an applicant’s resume can be a major mistake, from the viewpoint of safe hiring. A resume is an applicant’s marketing tool, in which the disclosure of or withholding of important information is entirely at his or her discretion. Many job hunters even use resume writing services, and while there is nothing wrong with using a service to prepare a professional looking resume, there is certainly the potential that these services can embellish the information on an applicant’s experience. The service’s goal is not necessarily honesty; it is to get the applicant an interview. Employers, however, need the facts in order to make the best hiring decisions.

What are some of the dangers in using a resume?

First, job applicants often feel compelled to reveal things about themselves that an employer does not need, or legally should not, know. Resumes often reveal volunteer affiliations, hobbies, interests or memberships in groups that reveal such prohibited information as race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or age. For example, a resume may reveal a person does volunteer time with a church, or belongs to a group that is clearly associated with a particular race or nationality.

The problem is the Federal EEOC and states’ rules prohibit an employer from obtaining or using such information. Having this information in the form of a resume in the employer’s file is not a good practice in the event the employer is ever the subject of civil litigation or a government investigation into their hiring practices. By using an application form, an applicant cannot volunteer irrelevant information an employer should not possess.

Conversely, resumes may not give an employer all the information needed to make an informed hiring decision. With a proper application, an applicant cannot skip over jobs he or she would rather not mention. An application can allow an employer to spot unexplained employment gaps. Also, job applicants typically do not self-reveal their criminal records in a resume.

In addition, it is much easier for an employer to prescreen candidates using a standardized application. An employer trying to screen a large number of resumes can more easily compare applicants.

Finally, an application form can contain critical elements that an employer may want to convey to the applicant, or critical questions that an employer may want to ask, such as whether the applicant has a criminal record.

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