Recently, an applicant submitted a resume for a position we had open for a client. We reviewed the resume and wished to continue moving forward with the applicant, so we sent an email requesting an application be completed. His response was to complete every space with “see resume.” Needless to say, that didn’t work for us. Because the same information is not requested on an employment application as is usually submitted on a resume, the candidate was contacted once again and asked to complete the application properly. His response, “this is too 1980’s, I’m not filling out an application when all the information is on my resume.”

The candidate was eliminated. Anyone that obstinate at that stage of a job search isn’t really putting forth the qualities we look for in candidates, but it did get me thinking – What really has changed in the recruiting and hiring functions since the 1980’s? Anyone who is old enough to have applied for a job in the 1980’s most likely typed a resume on a typewriter, not a computer. They also often mailed a resume via the postal service and they went to the place of business to complete an application for an opportunity to interview.


Some things haven’t changed at all while many others have changed drastically. Today, you have technology at your disposal that didn’t exist back then. Companies like ours, or employers who must handle high volumes of candidates, put applicant tracking systems in place (ATS). Some are high-end with immense bells and whistles from features like the ability to parse resume data and search for key words to built-in scoring mechanisms.

Most job sites allow applicants to submit resumes electronically very easily and some allow condensed versions of their resumes, that are missing vital details, to be sent. In some cases applicants don’t even realize what is sent to the employer.

Additionally, technology allows recruiters to gather quite a bit of data on applicants with some simple Google searches or dig a bit deeper with soft and full background checks. We can communicate with applicants via email (AOL wasn’t even founded until 1985 and mail stream email was much, much later), by text, or even Facebook messenger. Today we often hold cell phone interviews first with applicants because it’s the only phone they have. We can also hold video interviews on Skype, Sparkhire or other platforms.

“Help Wanted”

How we recruit is also very different. In the 80’s an employer would simply place an ad in the local newspaper or in some cases a specialty publication and ask for resumes to be mailed to them. No one I know mails a resume to any employer these days. Today we post jobs on internet sites galore with a few

clicks of a mouse. We recruit using Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn – we pay to place ads to garner lots of eyeballs on our positions in an attempt to find the best candidates.

Those are some of the ways recruiting efforts have changed since the 80s. But there are some things that haven’t changed much. Employers still require applications in most cases because there are still questions that they can ask on an application that aren’t provided on a resume. Applications also include the required legal claims and disclaimers related to non-discriminatory hiring including that lovely one requiring applicants to acknowledge that they are telling the truth.


Another item that hasn’t changed that much, if any, is the interview process. Employers still want to hold an interview directly with the candidate to evaluate if the candidate is a good fit for the position. You can read all you want on paper, but you can’t explore the depth of knowledge or experience someone has well from words on paper. More often than not, the items that a candidate chooses to put on a resume, or even on an application, won’t tell you a complete story. You won’t find out if a Service Manager candidate understands service absorption from a resume. You won’t find out how a Sales Manager encouraged their team to grow from a resume.

So, to the applicant who believes that employers who are searching for quality candidates are stuck in the 80’s, I beg to differ. While much of the recruiting process has changed, at some point in the process it does revert back to basics. At the end of the day, making the best hiring decision is still grounded in discovering if the person, not their piece of paper, can do the job you need to be done. It’s all about the right seat, for the right seat.