You may have heard the adage — when you assume that makes a “donkey” out of you and me. However, using our past experience about something to form judgments—or assumptions—is embedded in our human nature, arguably as a survival technique.
For example, if a child gets burned after touching a red stove-top element, he can make a pretty accurate assumption that if they saw a red stove-top element in the future, touching it will result in getting burned.
This assumption is grounded in a pretty objective truth: red stove-top elements are hot. However, when we draw quick conclusions that are not grounded in evidence, that’s when assumptions can lead us astray.
Unfounded assumptions can create ill-intended consequences in any area of life and business, including the hiring process.
Throughout my Talent Acquisition career, I’ve witnessed hiring managers review resumes and pass on qualified talent for reasons like:
- This candidate has gaps on his resume…
- he was probably fired from those roles or has a characteristic that is turning off other employers.
- This candidate has only stayed in roles for 6 months at a time…
- she must be flaky and will be a flight risk at our company.
- This candidate has the right functional experience…
- but probably can’t do this job because she doesn’t have specific XYZ industry experience.
On some occasions, yes, these assumptions may be accurate and reason to disqualify talent. However, :
- The candidate with gaps on his resume?
- Maybe he was unexpectedly laid off because the business was failing, or maybe he left the position to care for a sick family member.
- The candidate with short stints on her resume?
- Maybe she had a terrible manager who created a hostile work environment and left. Or maybe she wasn’t challenged, didn’t have any internal opportunities, or wanted to make an industry or career shift.
- The candidate who didn’t have the specific industry experience?
- Maybe she has transferable skills and/or a high learning aptitude that will quickly get her up and running.
Let’s not make assumptions about candidates’ intentions, value propositions, circumstances, or motivations before having a conversation with them. If something on their resume is a concern, ask them about it. Who knows—their answer may reveal more about their character and work ethic than any resume could ever show, and they may be exactly what your team needs.
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