Ok, so a question came up recently about hiring people for software development roles. In answering that, the group discussing this started talking about resumes. Resumes, which I’m told mine looks good and reads well, hold a certain value to someone entering the field of software development. There are also major problems with having a resume as your primary form of communication to prospective employers.
Resumes provide a horrible medium for communicating your real value to a company.
Sometimes a resume can tell someone that you can build a resume well or not. Sometimes a resume can tell someone that you think you know the technologies you have listed on your resume. Sometimes they can tell a prospective employer that you’ve been working in the field for X number of years. But what the resume really tells people is a list of nonsense:
- A resume tells a prospective employer that you’ve worked for X years but doesn’t mean you’ve gained X years of experience.
- A resume tells a prospective employer that you’ve written words on a page, following a loosely selective group of ideas and practices around resume writing.
- A resume tells a prospective employer that you have or can find a list of keywords associated with a particular job position.
- A resume does not tell a prospective employer that you actually know these technologies the keywords are associated with.
- A resume does not tell a prospective employer that you know how to structure sentences, clear thoughts, or actually communicate effectively in a group.
- A resume does not tell a prospective employer anything about your learning technique, how you develop or work in a group, or other pivotal soft and hard skills required for the position.
Some other issues with resumes. These are just simple things that I’ve found, and many others in similar positions as I, are practically truisms.
Looking only at resumes takes the top 5% of developers off market for you. Many, if not most of the best communicators, coders, and well rounded individuals that you want on your team will not submit a resume first. They’ll have to know you, gotten positive word of mouth, or otherwise been informed of your hiring and company. If your company uses resumes as a first step, you immediately are removing the top tier 5% of people. This isn’t just me seeing this, take for instance observations from people who have hired many more people than me such as Joel Spolsky (who does actually use resumes, but realizes they’re practically useless) or Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson.
By stating this, I’m not saying to totally disregard resumes. Albeit that would be nice, but simply saying that resumes should be regarded with absolutely minimal validity. For the most part, resumes are not very valuable and if you can remove them from your hiring process your group or company will be much better off for it.
Good luck hiring out there!
(Cross-posted @ Composite Code)