Not a week goes by that somebody somewhere writes about advice for resumes. A week ago last Saturday (one of my favorite psychologists), Dan Ariely, wrote a piece in the Wall Street Journal about how to “avoid bias” on your resume. He quoted a study in the UK where a group of psychologists sent out resumes and cover letters responding to more than 9000 real job vacancies. The cover letters were all the same, but the resumes varied slightly. Some showed an unexplained 2.5 year gap since the last job. Others explained that the 2.5 year gap was for childcare purposes. A third set simply adopted a less traditional layout replacing the dates of employment with the number of years of experience.
There was no difference in the number of callbacks for resumes that explain the gap versus those that did not. However, according to Ariely, removing dates and presenting previous employment in terms of years of experience increased the callbacks by 15%.
I’m not doubting or questioning the results of the study. I’m sure Dan reported it correctly. But I am here to tell you that that kind of resume does not work very well at all, at least here in America. These are usually recognized as “functional” resumes. They normally list the amount of experience one has had in terms of total years of experience. What they avoid is the chronological dates of specific jobs. The vast majority of employers are looking at 150 or so resumes. They scan those resumes. They don’t read them. They look for, “who did the person work for?… What does that company do?… What did the candidate do at that company?… And, how well did the candidate do it?”
Whether it’s a hiring authority or an interviewing authority or even a resume “screener,” that is what they’re looking for and if they can’t see it quickly…like in 10 seconds, the resume will be usually passed up.
So, don’t believe everything you read.