We love Google here at Ideal Candidate. As I affectionately refer to them: Best evil empire ever. I’ve written about being fans of their data-driven approach to hiring before.

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Laszlo Bock, Google’s SVP of People Operations, just published a LinkedIn Q&A article on the biggest mistakes people make on their resumes. The irony is the biggest mistake Google makes themselves: Using resumes in the first place.

Don’t believe me? I quote Laszlo himself:

Q: Do resumes predict performance?

A: I haven’t seen anything to suggest they do. Resumes are a very poor information source.

Why does Google still require resumes?

So we both agree that resumes suck for assessing job candidates. Yet Google still requires a resume when you apply for a job there.


Google takes pride in screening their job applications using real, live people. This is an organization that gets more than 50,000 resumes a week. Google might have the manpower to look at each and every one of those resumes but the reality is that most companies don’t. In one survey, 81% of hiring managers say they ignore the majority of the resumes they receive.

What’s so wrong with resumes anyway?

Even when hiring managers do look at resumes, they pay attention to the wrong information like typos, passive vs. active status, and “job-hopping,” not to mention race, sex, and age. To be fair, Google is aware of these unconscious biases and attempts to educate themselves and others on their negative effects. But we know from the research that making people aware of their biases can backfire and actually increase their discriminatory behavior.

We know Google doesn’t screen resumes based on GPA, college degrees, or even expertise because their data found these factors didn’t predict anything. So what exactly do they screen their resumes on? It’s a bit of a mystery.

What should we be using instead of resumes?

Laszlo explains the better way of matching people and jobs is:

[B]y looking at large sets of data and inferring relationships, similarities, and predictors of success and failure.

Academics have known that using data and statistics – not resumes and human biases – is the more efficient and less error-prone way to hire for the past 100 years or so.

Now the corporate world is becoming increasingly aware that using data to hire enables you to understand and measure the traits of better performing employees who are less likely to quit. This is what “strategic HR” really means.


Creating a system of sourcing and assessing job candidates that uses data to help companies hire better employees is exactly what inspires us at Ideal Candidate.

Laszlo states:

I’m optimistic that somewhere out there someone is building a MUCH better system for inferring who you really are and understanding what employers really need.

Hey Laszlo, have you heard of us?

What do you think of resumes? Let me know in the comments below.

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Ji-A Min

Ji-A Min

Head Data Scientist at Ideal
Ji-A Min is the Head Data Scientist at Ideal. With a Master’s in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Ji-A promotes best practices and data-based HR. She writes about trends and research in talent acquisition, people analytics, and workplace diversity.
Ji-A Min