Monday, March 17, 2008

It's the System, Not the People!!

Seth Godin wrote an interesting blog entry this morning that I found myself needing to comment on.

The basic don't need a resume if you are truly remarkable. That a resume just points out all the things you DON'T have in order to qualify for a job rather than point out what makes you so good at what you do. Plus, a resume is just so...drab and unimaginative...and just puts you in the rest of the heap of people that are all trying to be "cogs in the big machine."

I agree where Seth is going with this...but I disagree with his audience (ironic given that Seth is a marketing guy). You see, I never thought remarkable people needed to be the ones who had to be prodded to do away with their resumes. I talk to people each day who are extraordinary at what they do--and none of them have had to write up a resume for as long as they've been doing what they love.

So where is the breakdown? My contention is the "big machines" that employ these people. So rather than deliver this message to the people, I think Seth needs to address the main culprit here: employers.

For employers, resumes are safe. They're consistent. They provide some sort of "objective" way of filtering through the hundreds of resumes they come across each day. Like one person commented on Seth's blog post, resumes are a "necessary evil." Why? They're necessary because of the system in which we all operate in.

So to take a cue from Andy Stanley, I want to suggest one thing: rather than change people, we need to change the system. Systems drive behavior. It's not that people WANT to write resumes. They have to. But why do they have to? Because it's the stupid employers who demand them!!! A whole industry (job boards and resume databases) has spawned from this system!!!

In the end, my suggestion is that a few bold companies just need to step up. More importantly, a few bold recruiting departments need to step it up. In the frenetic, chaotic environment that recruiters often operate's too easy to fall back into the resume system that we all know and are familiar with.

This is the challenge for recruiters: When you have 300 positions to fill yesterday, what are you going to do? Go through 800 resumes in the hopes that you find some qualified candidates? Or (gasp) buck the trend and begin to utilize non-traditional ways to evaluate talent? The latter takes more time (A LOT more time). Time that recruiters don't really have.

This brings us to the challenge for recruiting leaders, or HR leaders: What are you going to do to create a SYSTEM that supports recruiters who take the time to evaluate talent apart from resumes? Because if your system supports resumes...guess what? Your recruiters will too. And no amount of talk, conference calls, or incentives will motivate them towards the other route over the long term.

Sure, overhauling the system isn't easy. It sure isn't going to happen overnight. But like I said, if a few bold companies begin to take steps towards creating new systems...I think people like Seth Godin will have less to worry about in the future. The remarkable people will finally have a system that embraces them.


HRagitator said...

This, to me, is a irrelevant argument. It's not the resume that gets a person hired, it's the person themselves. The resume is just your foot in the door.

Also, plenty of interesting people maintain resumes. I work in a "big machine", but I don't view my co-workers as cogs or gears. They have lives and families and hopes and ambitions and personalities and creativity and passion, just like the people who work "outside the system." I'm not crazy about belittling them or saying they're somehow less interesting because they're part of a corporation.

Not having a resume doesn't make you special, it just means you don't have a resume. You're special because of who you are as a person, regardless of if you have a resume or not. This is what gets you hired.

Anonymous said...

What are your thoughts on the concept of Third Place Thursdays?

Malcolm Chlan said...

yeah this advice is great for a very successful author who writes business books but the person down the street with a marketing degree and a few jobs under their belt need to hop in that "machine" so they can become great.