In an effort to stop unconscious bias against potential candidates, some employers have adopted a practice called blind recruitment.
In a blind system, recruiters may use a tool to redact personal information from résumés, or they may use anonymous technical evaluations or psychometric tests when screening the candidates they eventually present to hiring managers. In theory, these steps block bias against recruits based on ethnicity, age, national origin, gender, college affiliations or employment pedigrees.
Whether a blind screening process will help or hinder your job search may depend on your actions. Here are some ways to adjust your game plan and protect your “blind side.”
Adapt Your Résumé
Removing a candidate’s name, employment dates or years of experience, and any gender-related references from résumés will theoretically place a greater emphasis on job-related skills and qualifications, explained John Feldmann, communications specialist for Insperity Recruiting Services.
Therefore, as a candidate, tailoring your résumé toward the role and specific job posting will improve your chances of a recruiter actually presenting your application package to the hiring manager. “The whole point is to level the playing field,” Feldmann explained, “and you have no idea how your résumé will be screened. So it’s important to showcase why you are the best-qualified candidate by providing proof of projects, accomplishments and links to online portfolios.”
Use gender-neutral language and terms to make sure that key affiliations and accomplishments affecting your candidacy aren’t stricken from your résumé. For instance, change the name of organizations such as “Women Who Code,” and don’t refer to yourself as a minority candidate or as chairman but chairperson, officer or leader. Finally, be sure to quantify your task, responsibility and accomplishment bullets, since evaluators may not know if you have 15 years’ experience or two.
“The idea is to remove the bias at the top of the funnel,” noted Aline Lerner, a former software engineer who now serves as CEO and co-founder of Interviewing.io.
Being a referred candidate and focusing on what makes you remarkable is still the best way to get your résumé in front of hiring managers, she added.
Run a Blind Test
How will your résumé fare if you remove the names of marquee employers, or the fact that you graduated from a prestigious university or CS program?
Find out by running a blind test. Run your modified résumé through a free résumé grader or optimization tool. Many of these tools use sophisticated algorithms to make sure a résumé can be read by those pesky ATS systems used by large organizations.
Next, give it the human test. Run your résumé past a trusted colleague, hiring manager or professional reviewer to see if it conveys your main message and brand. Then, compare it to other documents and profiles posted online. How does it stack up against professionals with similar experience and skills?
Take Advantage of the Changes
If you feel like you’re given short shrift by prospective employers because you’re over 50 or don’t have a college degree, a blind screening process may actually work in your favor – if you play your cards right. For example, don’t give away your age by submitting a 10-page résumé detailing experience from 30 years ago or highlighting older technologies.
Evaluation platforms such as Interviewing.io even disguise the candidate’s voice during initial interviews, so hiring managers can focus on the prospect’s coding skills and completion of a specific set of software-engineering tasks.
“We’ve been able to place people with major tech companies who were held back in the past because of their lack of pedigree,” Lerner said. “It’s hard to reject someone who aces a technical evaluation.”
But remember: While it may be hard to reject technically proficient prospects, it’s not impossible. The early results of blind recruitment are mixed, because hiring managers and candidates eventually meet face-to-face, potentially allowing subjective biases to creep back into the decision-making process.
“Once you exit the blind stage, hiring managers can still consider cultural fit and diversity hiring goals,” Feldmann noted. Blind screening can only take you so far; at some point, you still have to explain why you are the best fit for the job.