Résumés, Cover Letters Are Awful Relics

Looking at credentials tends to bias us, lead to bad hires, Jesse Singal argues
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2014 1:49 PM CDT
Résumés, Cover Letters Are Awful Relics

Odds are pretty good that you hate cover letters and résumés. Pretty much everyone does, applicants and employers alike. And they should, for more reasons than you realize, writes Jesse Singal at New York. "It’s time for the résumé and the cover letter to die," Singal writes. Not only is evaluating them an "inefficient, time-wasting" method of narrowing down applicants, "it exacerbates many of the biases that fuel a winner-take-all job market at the expense of minorities and people without fancy connections."

Résumés might seem objective, but there's "a mountain of evidence" that they lead to discrimination. Studies have shown that applicants with names that sound white, for example, are more likely to get interviews than other applicants with identical résumés. Employers also tend to unconsciously favor applicants from prestigious schools. And even if none of those things was a factor, focusing on credentials is a mistake, one researcher says—they "have extremely low validity for predicting future job performance." Singal suggests employers review applicants anonymously, or better yet test their actual skills in some way before ever seeing if they went to Harvard. For the full column, click here. (Read more resume stories.)

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