Yet Another Weird Tale Of The Great Stupid: Leveling All Resumés

A LinkedIn posting by HR&A Advisors, a TriBeCa-based real estate consultancy, asked job applicants for a $121,668- to $138,432-a-year position to apply while removing “all undergraduate and graduate school name references” from their résumés, citing only the degree itself. Apparently this policy applies to all HR&A job postings, which the company says is part of its “ongoing work to build a hiring system that is free from bias and based on candidate merit and performance.”

Oh, good plan.

It is now “bias” to assess superior academic credentials as…superior academic credentials? Why not just skip the application process entirely and pick names out of a hat? Surely if the institution a degree was earned from is just a source of bias, so is the holding of a degree itself. And isn’t it just bias to assume that experience in a field should qualify a job applicant for a position over someone with no experience?

As readers here know, I yield to no one in the belief that elite college degrees are over-priced and subject to absurdly overblown reverence, but there are substantive differences between graduating from Princeton and Franklin University, which sells “fast college degrees for busy people.” As Jonathan Turley wrote (he flagged this ridiculous story),

There can be vast differences in the academic rigor of academic institutions. To only go by the degrees is manifestly illogical. It is akin to saying that you competed on a baseball team but not reference the specific team or league to gauge the level of performance. You could have played for the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp or the New York Yankees.

Good analogy. In addition, being admitted to a competitive college or graduate school itself usually indicates merit and performance. What a cruel bait and switch for current college students: here they are going into debt to pay tuition for a prestige education (while their parents may have risked prison to get them admitted), only to discover that they might as well have attended Cheap-O U., where all you need to do to get in is to copy a drawing of a cartoon turtle off a matchbook cover, and the tuition is a fraction of those charged by institutions with established reputations.

But reputations are just biases too, right?

Turley also properly identifies the deceit in the HR&A policy:

Finally, the approach of HR&A Advisors appears virtue signaling without real substance on a practical level. If students submit their transcripts or faculty references, the identity of their schools will be obvious. Moreover, in interviews, it will be hard for applicants to discuss their academic training while redacting any reference or hint at the academic institution. For example, if a student studied under a well-known figure in real estate or business studies, is she supposed to avoid mentioning the professor’s name to conceal her educational institution?

Interestingly, the recruitment policy is likely to chase away the best qualified applicants. Who wants to work for a company with such imbecilic management? In the end, HR&A Advisors is likely to end up with exactly the talent pool and organizational competence it deserves.

3 thoughts on “Yet Another Weird Tale Of The Great Stupid: Leveling All Resumés

  1. I graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School, one of the elite public high schools in NYC. To gain entry one had to take a then rigid admissions exam. My course of study included Advanced Algebra, Calculus (not precalculus,) Organic chemistry, Qualitative Analytic Chemistry, Biochemistry., Latin, Industrial Processes, etc. When I graduated the degree was seen as the equivalent to every other non-competitive high school in the city by college admissions. I was actually denied matriculation to the City university because I did not have a semester of a “foreign language course.” Latin was not counted because it was not a “living language,” and no regard was given to the fact that I spoke fluent Italian from home.

  2. It is hard to accurately guess what idiots are thinking, but my guess would be that they want the schools removed from only the initial resume so that they screen applicants on a “level” playing field based on credentials alone. Once candidates are selected, their full credentials would be a natural part of the interview process.

    However, they are also asking for 5 years of experience following a Bachelors degree (or 3 after a Masters). At this level, the name of the institution is effectively irrelevant. Either you are good at your job at this point or you are not. They do not ask that previous employers be redacted, which would be truly absurd (although, the kind people who are impressed by this application process might do so on their own initiative…). The employment experience is the only thing the company was going to look at anyways, because being a high performer at a competitor is the most accurate predictor of effectiveness at their firm.

    Effectively, this is virtue signaling at its finest. They are asking candidates to omit a piece of information they all ready believe is irrelevant, and saying it is to help “diversity”. It is a low effort sham, which is obvious to all involved.

    To go a step further, the woke must be seeing the writing on the wall regarding affirmative action. They realize shoehorning students into elite universities based on non-academic factors will no longer be legally tolerated, so they are starting to treat the elite branding of the college education system in direct proportion to the actual value it offers to employers (ie, so little, the name of the school is irrelevant to them).

  3. Part of this is no doubt the product of a litigious society. Several years ago I chaired a search committee for an opening in our department. We were told in our mandatory training that we had to document all our decisions about who should be a finalist with a matrix which had to be approved by HR. (We were also told not to write down any negative comments about any candidate, as anything in writing had to be turned over to HR, and could be used against the university by an unsuccessful candidate.)

    The position in question required a terminal degree, meaning, in my field, it could be either a PhD or an MFA. (It took us a while to get HR to program the computerized system to accept an MFA but not an MA.) We could use having such a degree as part of the matrix, but a degree from one of the most prestigious programs in the country could count no more than one from a notorious diploma mill or from the University of Northern South Dakota at Hoople. The stated rationale was fear of lawsuits. Sigh. Note: It’s quite possible the Hoople grad would be the best overall candidate, but that’s a different matter.

    Note that having the degree was a specific requirement for the job, so there would be no value in including it in the matrix. Not having an MFA or a PhD made the applicant unqualified, so if there’s no difference between the degree-granting institutions, what’s the point?

    Anyway, I pitched a fit, and (miraculously) convinced an HR higher-up that a degree from, say, Stanford or Yale, not only provided a higher likelihood of disciplinary knowledge, it would also (here’s the convincing part) look better on the one-sheet we make available to prospective students and their parents.

    I remember, too, that when I was applying to grad schools, I was interested in a program whose brochure said something to the effect of “successful applicants generally have an undergraduate grade point average of…” My GPA in the field was well above that figure, but my overall GPA was a couple of percentage points below it, largely because I’d started off in a major in which, shall we say, I did not prosper.

    Not wanting to pay the application fee (plus the cost of sending transcripts, etc.), I called the department and asked them how strict that policy was. They asked where I’d done my undergrad. When I told them, the response was “of course we’d love to have you apply!”

    I wonder if they could do that now…

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