Science sez: Death to the cover letter and resume

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“Your resume looks great, but we don’t do that anymore.” via Flickr user bpsusf

There is nothing in this life more full of bullshit than a resume, along with a cover letter telling your potential employer “I’d love to join the team.” Yeah, no shit, that’s why you’re applying. Well, good news everyone: science says resumes and cover letters are a bunch of bullshit, and that companies should stop requiring them. Since America loves science so much, we’re sure this advice will be implemented immediately!

The scientific breakthrough comes courtesy of a story in New York, which beyond pointing out what a colossal slog and waste of time it is for companies to go through all these letter and resumes, also shared a number of studies that show that unconscious biases wind up affecting the way that resumes and cover letters are viewed. “White-” or “normal-” sounding names are more likely to gain interview invitations and get less proofreading scrutiny. That kind of bias even extends to the school you went to, with researchers finding that people are more likely to overlook resume and cover letter errors from people from fancy Ivy League schools as compared to schlubs who went to state school.

According to Science, firms could deal with this problem in some instances by just anonymizing resumes to hide names and schools, or even have people apply for jobs with their initials or a numbered code on the resume. Going beyond that even, the story suggests that for jobs like reporting or coding, companies can do away with resumes and cover letters entirely, and instead task people with writing a sample story or sample coding.

As committed haters of cover letters and resumes, we support the move away from them wholeheartedly, and hope that companies pay attention to this story. After all, if you can do the job even if your resume says that you went to Hollywood Upstairs Medical College, why should some jerk who could afford Dartmouth get hired instead of you?


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