Rethinking the Resume to Eliminate Bias
Resumes are critical to positioning yourself for new positions. Yet, they vary widely. With variance, there’s preference. With preference, there’s bias.
If companies can spend ample time A/B testing button colors to optimize conversion rate, you’d be incorrect in believing small differences in resume layout get one qualified person picked over another similarly qualified person.
If I were to redesign resumes, I’d:
It’s a breeding ground for unconscious and conscious bias.
It’s a breeding ground for unconscious and conscious bias. We all get unique identifier numbers and are emailed when we’ve been selected to move to the next round. At that point, demographic information will become apparent on that phone screen or first-round interview. It might be really uncomfortable to go into an interview not knowing the name, gender, or race of the person you’re going to speak with but I am infinitely more uncomfortable with people being denied access to a position because of their name, gender, or race.
eliminate address, location, and phone number
Where someone currently is doesn’t dictate where they’ll be tomorrow; if they are willing to take the job you’re offering wherever you’re offering it, that’s all that matters
Is one page of your entire work experience not enough of a summary? I should be able to scan your resume and come to the same summary without you providing it.
single column, .5 margin, 12 point black Arial font, bolded section names, single-spaced, filled circle bullets
Consistent formatting puts the focus on the content, not the styling. A portfolio can be the opportunity to show off your design skills.
education, professional experience, volunteer experience
Same 3 sections every time, in that order.
No skills section because your skills should be evident through the bullets of each experience.
No interests sections because building rapport and introducing bias are friendly cousins.
No graduation dates or class years because people of any age have what it takes to do the job.
Speaking of eliminating names, eliminating names of the educational institutions and places of employment is something that I could get around because that’s another layer of bias in interpreting how qualified someone is on the coattails of something other than their actual impact and demonstrated skills. Deciding if you’re worth moving forward with based on the names of the places that accepted you in the past creates a pipeline of inaccessibility which I wanted eliminated.
The problem with recruiting is that it uses proxy measurements of what actually matters: can you do the job? I want a world in which recruiters and hiring managers measure what matters and don’t get distracted by what doesn’t.
We create seats at the table by who is allowed in the room. We admit entrance to the room from the people in the building. This change does very little for all the biases that happen further down the funnel or through back door conversations but I’d hope it can get more people in the front door.