Projects Instead of Résumés?

In listening to a podcast recently, I heard of an interesting approach to hiring.

Instead of concentrating on the person’s résumé, ask for the projects that she’s completed.

Of course you do need to look at the résumé to see where your applicant has worked, for how long and what their skills are. And résumés can tell you other things about your candidate that you often want to know.

We can all agree a résumé is important and it can tell us a great deal. So, what’s the deal with asking about projects? What can that tell us?

Well, first of all, it puts an emphasis on production. And when I say production, I don’t mean being busy or doing things.

Production to me has a very specific meaning. It means completing some activity that results in an item or service that is exchangeable with someone else.

Obviously a manufactured car is a product. And so is a manufactured steering wheel for that car. A repaired flat tire is also a completed activity that is exchangeable. A visit to the dentist can result in a cavity filled and the patient—who was in pain and now is free of that pain—gladly pays for this completed service.

Production of course also occurs internally within a business. The receptionist in a friendly and competent manner gets a new person through signing in, filling out fully the necessary forms and moving the person onto the next step. That’s production for the receptionist.

It is also production when the customer service rep at Arnold’s Carpet Cleaning fully handles the customer’s concerns and the customer is happy to continue being a customer. It’s even higher quality production when the customer tells others how great their service was at Arnold’s Carpet Cleaning.

So where is this all going? Well, a project is a concentrated effort to pull off a certain quantity and quality of production.

It could be a one-man project or it could be a project involving many people with different skills.

Virtually every project has a specific purpose to produce something of value. Valuable internally to the business or valuable externally where the business receives some form of exchange.

If your candidate can tell you about different projects that 1) he worked on and 2) more importantly, he completed, you’ll likely find out a good deal about him.

Ask him to describe the purpose of the project, what his role was, how long it took, how did the project generate an exchange, these kinds of things. Was he happy with the outcome? Would he have done something differently if he were in charge?

Going back to the podcast I mentioned in the beginning, the speaker thought that projects should replace résumés in the hiring process.

I wouldn’t go that far. I would simply say add this area of discovery to résumés, and you’ll get a broader picture of how your candidate will perform.

As the law varies in each area, please check with an attorney to ensure you are applying these tips within the law.

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