Basecamp, an American company that specializes in web application1, has surprised the world by putting into action the much debated and in many ways idealistic idea of rejecting résumés. Not only has it put such an idea into action, but it has also successfully managed to run its business with its selected group of people. Its action has sparked conversations on the validity of résumés and left many wondering whether getting rid of résumés completely could serve as a key to resolving the prevalent academic cliquism that plagues modern society.
The whole purpose of taking out résumés from today’s cutthroat job market touches not only on the subject of accepting good people for a company, but also on the idea of equality. Equality is shown in terms of providing equal chances for everyone, including those in the rural areas and those without prestigious academic backgrounds. In that sense, the idea of not requiring résumés seems reasonable as well. Leveling the playing field for talented people who were not privileged enough to have equal chances by doing away with résumés may work out. After all, who is not in favor of equality?
The only glitch to work on then would be finding the alternative—what standards could be suggested for selecting new employees? If Basecamp does not look at people’s résumés, what are its criteria? Basecamp looks for good writers who can communicate their thoughts through written words. It also tends to look at self-introduction letters to focus more on the people’s mindsets than their past work experiences. Additionally, it prefers putting its candidates through actual work environments to test their problem solving skills in real life situations. From an outsider’s point of view, such methods might seem to be viable solutions that could replace the current résumés, but an in-depth analysis into the matter seems to suggest otherwise.
Each of the alternative standards does provide insight and points towards individual candidates’ aptitude and skill sets more than simply looking at their past career. After all, the years that they had spent doing various things at different places, the level of education they received, and how well they did in school does not necessarily dictate one’s level of performance at work. However, there is room for some backlash as to how people would respond to an employment market that does not care to look at résumés.
What can be presumed for sure is that assessing people based on their writing will be a risky and inaccurate process. To discern those who are genuinely decent writers is not the easiest evaluation. One’s particular style of writing could get in the way of objectively assessing the quality of others’ writings. After all, it may end up becoming a cake testing where one’s personal taste of writing matters more than the actual communication skills— not the most ideal way a job selection should look like, leaving room for criticisms regarding its subjectivity.
As distinguishing good writers from a couple paragraphs of writing is impossible, some may contend that applicants should submit a couple pages of their writing. However, when there is a large number of applicants, which usually is the case for the highly sought-after companies, it is challenging to go through everyone’s submitted works with much attention. Although such a lengthy process may not be an issue for small and mid-sized companies with fewer applicants, that is not the case for large corporations that attract thousands of applicants each year.
For the abolishment of résumés to become accepted as a mainstream fashion of hiring employees, it needs alternatives to take its place. One of the main reasons why companies have not changed their method of recruitment, despite the criticism of academic cliquism, is because all the other options are too impractical, too complicated and exhausting. Despite its practical complications, Basecamp’s experiment of rejecting résumés altogether has taken us one step closer to creating the right formula for finding the right talents for respective companies.
1 client-server software application which the client runs in a web browser