Another Bullet Fired at the Beating Heart of the Resume
Resumes have dogged our entire professional lives and occasionally maddened the recruiters among us. But now, following several failed attempts to standardize or kill them, a new company, 1-Page, has introduced a fresh idea aimed at altering the recruiting process.
By Bill Kutik
Love it or hate it, the resume has been around since Leonardo da Vinci supposedly wrote the first one in 1482. Of course, that's an "Internet fact," with no citation, source and, thus, utterly uncheckable. Let's just say the resume has been around for all of our professional lives. And not having to write a new one is one great reason for self-employment.
The problems with resumes -- and the systems we've invented to deal with them -- are legion. First, of course, people exaggerate or even lie on them. And all the systems I've seen demoed that promise a "verified" resume might catch a wrong date corrected by a previous employer, but rarely an inflated accomplishment.
Fundamentally, most problems stem from the resume being an idiosyncratically structured information document. People write it more or less the way they want to and even the commonly accepted narrow boundaries are still pretty wide.
Given that they're all first now read by software (maybe not at Google), few people bother to use a variety of fonts and sizes to make them pretty anymore. The only certainty for the software parsing is that the words and numbers at the top represent a name, address, email and phone number.
This has partially foiled all attempts to automate record-keeping for recruiting since the first packaged applicant-tracking systems with resume scanning appeared in the late 1980s. A succession of technologies have been used to impose structure on the resume, extract the correct information, and create database records for searching candidates and matching them to open jobs.
More recently, conceptual search engines have been used to comb through pools of raw resumes, not yet turned into structured database records.
Nobody is really happy with how any of that works.
Just for the record, there was a moment more than 10 years ago when the HR-XML Consortium sat down with Monster (truly the 800-pound gorilla in the jobs space at the time) and Microsoft (which was ready to offer an XML-tagged resume template in Word), but they couldn't agree on how to do it. The one fleeting chance to standardize the resume slipped through our fingers.
Enter LinkedIn. Not only has it solved the larger problem of submitted resumes going stale after leaving candidates' hands, but a person's profile is already structured by employment, projects, education, etc. The problem there, I think, is that "Apply with LinkedIn" doesn't send enough of your profile to your intended employers, which still want resumes.
The trio of Valley firms hunting down software engineers -- Gild, TalentBin, Entelo – are, in the end, creating their own candidate resumes for clients using Big Data from sources impressive and arcane. When they say their results are "better than LinkedIn," you know they are delivering resumes or profiles.
If a new system could truly replace the resume as the standard for applying for a job, that would qualify as "disruptive" technology in my book. Why? Because it would completely change the corporate recruiting process.
My favorite, but failed, recent attempt was JobFox by CareerBuilder founder Rob McGovern, who had the bad luck of starting that company at the beginning of the Great Recession, when employers were not inclined to pay anyone to hook them up with candidates.
The simple but awesome idea was for the recruiter and the candidate to use the same taxonomy of skills to describe what they wanted and who they were. No job reqs, no resumes. Disruptive.
Happily, Rob is already on to his next company -- called Cobrain -- a shopping service, just coming out of stealth. "Anything but online jobs," he says.
Now, we have 1-Page, co-founded by one of those staggering New Age women, Joanna Weidenmiller, whose resume (not that she'd ever write one) reads like she's 50, not 31. Starting with a stint at the FBI after college.
The basic idea is also disruptive: Companies should forget the job req or description, forget the job-board ad, forget the social-media listing, maybe even forget the employee referral. Instead, 1-Page has human beings (backed up by a big library) to help companies transform them all into a single "challenge" (think: "project") that candidates are asked to solve in . . . what else . . . a one-page job proposal.
Also, forget where they went to school and their previous work histories. "Companies can now engage candidates to compete for jobs based on the ability to solve their real challenges to achieve business-strategic objectives," says Weidenmiller.
She started selling the service to candidates (perhaps hoping to join The Ladders as the only recruiting company that has succeeded at doing that), and then wisely pivoted last year to selling it to hiring companies and giving it away free to candidates. Companies pay 1-Page per challenge but buy in bulk, recently ranging from $30,000 to $250,000 a year.
Current customers include First Republic Bank, Williams-Sonoma, DirecTV, Avis and Hubert Burda Media, the German publishing giant and Weidenmiller's employer when she worked in China.
Naturally, there's a lot of functionality besides. For the candidate, the challenge gathers together on the same page as every online asset the company has: website (of course), links to all its social feeds, networks, news items, a listing in Google Finance and, of course, it's tweet stream.
I wondered about the danger of cut-and-paste proposals with so much information at hand. "We have an automatic plagiarism detector," Weidenmiller says. OK, I know a few high schools and colleges that could use that.
In addition to the personal help, employer clients have online templates for creating challenges, easy import of a recruiter's candidates from LinkedIn and address books to send out the challenge, measurement of the candidate's progress, the eventual score on the proposal and (of course) analytics.
Will 1-Page kill the resume? I doubt it. Especially not when it, too, offers "Apply with LinkedIn" in the resulting profile. But the idea of a company engaging with a candidate through evidence of what he or she could do, rather than for what they have done in the past, is a very bright light in recruiting.
HR Technology Columnist Bill Kutik is co-chair emeritus of the 17th Annual HR Technology® Conference & Exposition, returning to Las Vegas, Oct. 8-10, 2014. You can comment on this column at the Conference LinkedIn Group, which doesn't require prior or future conference attendance to join. He is also host of The Bill Kutik Radio Show®. He can be reached at email@example.com.