Torture By Resume

Managers hate being presented with a “stack” of resumes. One of any manager’s worst nightmares is when a recruiter drops off a “stack” of resumes to be read “right away.” No matter how well intentioned managers may be, the reality is that they will postpone looking through the stack for days or even weeks.

Why Do Managers Hate Stacks of Resumes?

The answer is simple! Everyone hates “stacks” of resumes! Recruiters don’t like to sort through them any more than managers do. Some other reasons that managers hate piles of resumes include:


  • They are rarely sorted or ranked by their level of qualifications
  • The stack includes enough “bad” candidates to frustrate the reader
  • Resumes vary so much in format that they are difficult to compare with each other and a large number of resumes make direct comparisons between different individual resumes even more difficult
  • The total time it takes to get through the stack by itself initially inhibits the manager from even starting the task
  • The delay between actually reading the resumes and the time of hire is often so great that managers fail to see the direct return on investment (ROI) for going through resumes
  • Managers feel the need to see a large volume of resumes because they don’t trust a recruiters judgment
  • After about five resumes everyone gets bored

How to Increase the Likelihood That Managers will Review Your Resumes and Minimize the Chances of Torture by Resume!

  • Have the resumes sorted against a fixed set of competencies (key word search) to ensure only the best are included
  • Have an experienced “sourcer/ sorter” sort and comment on the top candidates and cull out the bad ones
  • Attach a cover sheet giving an overview of the skill levels in the resumes and your specific recommended actions for the manager
  • Give them no more than 5 resumes (no exceptions)
  • Encourage applicants to “self select out” through the use of realistic job/company culture profiles in your ads and web sites
  • Put a due date on your resumes and have a person send out periodic reminders to the managers to ensure managers respond in a timely manner
  • Compare the competencies of these applicants to those of our currently employed top performers in order to validate our screening/sorting process
  • Publish metrics on the response time of managers to respond to resume
  • Show the managers the dollar costs and impact on losing the best candidates that comes from delays in reading resumes
  • Set an “expiration date” on requisitions to encourage rapid management response
  • Track the percentage of “unacceptable” candidates forwarded to managers and reward the recruiter for including zero “turkeys”
  • Reward managers for great/fast hiring

Conclusion – Stop the Torture!

Giving managers more than 5 resumes may so stifle their enthusiasm for the hiring process that they decide to postpone the hiring for an indefinite period. A better alternative is to focus on pre-qualifying resumes and sorting out all but the best. The lowered volume eases the pressure on the manager and allows for more side-by-side comparisons between resumes. Buy showing hiring managers that we are experts in identifying/sorting top candidates we build their trust and this in turn allows us to give them fewer and fewer resumes to read. As their trust builds we can get the number below the magic number of 5. Any more than 5 resumes inevitably leads to delays in the decision process.

About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

Check Also

Elon Musk’s Bonehead Move To Texas – How Not To Do It (How socially charged actions hurt employees)

In a business world where everyone takes sides, corporations must now come across as apolitical.  …