Although HR is not the focus of our consulting practice, our clients occasionally ask for our help when they hire staff. We do look at resumes the give us but, since we have a sense of where the client organization is headed, we'd rather weigh in on the candidate's suitability for the emerging company, not just their eligibility for the posted position. Are there any ethical issues here, since we are recommending candidates based on our view of an organization that does not yet exist?
This is an interesting quandary. First, you are advising your client in areas in which you admit is not your strong capability. Second, you reject the client's request to give an opinion based on eligibility. Third, your approach is appropriate, since hiring is generally based on eligibility while firing is based on (lack of) suitability. Finally, you are orienting your selection criteria toward a future that you are advising your client to pursue but that may or may not come to pass. The principal ethical issues are whether you should be advising your client in HR issues and whether there is an inherent conflict with your assumed future being based on your recommendations. It seems like giving HR advice under these conditions merits full disclosure and extreme caution.
However, you do raise an important issue in hiring, whether for your client or your own firm. Resumes continue to be a dominant source of input to a hiring selection, even though as often as not they contain errors or misstatements (A SHRM survey found 60% of hiring executives found mistakes on resumes and a resume counseling service reported over 40% of resumes contained major misstatements). What we look for is an indication of what the person can do in the job, not what they did in other jobs. Nor do they reveal the traits that matter most in job suitability (e.g., honesty, persistence, tolerance for ambiguity, response to stress, sense of urgency, commitment to mission, agility).Tip:
Know the essential traits for both the position and the organization in which it will function, how they will result in the kind of outputs and outcomes you seek, and (through assessment, case analyses or actual problem solving and interaction) see firsthand how the person will work in the likely work culture and environment. © 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA