The Impact of Sports Participation and Gender on Inferences Drawn from Resumes

Article excerpt

In the first stage of the employment selection process, applicants frequently use resumes to showcase their qualifications to the person/s in charge of screening the applicant pool. In some situations, this may be an individual in a formal recruiting position, while in others this may be the direct hiring manager. In either case, this is part of a recruiting process in which resumes serve as the gateway to selection that either dead-ends or facilitates interviews, and the eventual hiring of successful candidates. Because resume reviews are used more frequently by organizations than any other selection measure (Dipboye and Jackson, 1999), the inferences made from the resume serve as an important obstacle to overcome for potential job candidates (Thoms et al., 1999). In particular, college students are likely to be impacted by recruiters' inferences because they often have a limited range of job experiences. Given this limited work history, recruiters have less to rely on in assessing the job skills of these individuals, and therefore, need to make a larger inferential leap than in reviewing the resume of an applicant with many years of job experiences. This may be even more of a concern for the college athlete whose resume, due to participation in sports activities, might not include the number of internships or other extracurricular experiences that non-athlete college students possess. This study examines the impact of three factors--type of collegiate sports participation, membership or leadership in collegiate sports, and gender of the applicant--on recruiter inferences drawn from resumes. (In this paper, the term "recruiter" is used to include anyone responsible for screening initial resumes.)

Given the role and frequent use of resumes, the review of resumes is crucial for both organizations and applicants. For the job applicants, the review of resumes is crucial because applicants want to be selected into the applicant pool, and therefore, want their resume to contain those items most likely to result in positive recruiter inferences. Applicants also want to make a positive and memorable initial impression that may influence how the interview is conducted as well as the final hiring decision. Thus, the knowledge of what factors influence recruiters' inferences from resumes gives insight to future applicants as they decide how they will use their time as well as what activities during college (or later) that they will choose to engage in.

For an organization, this beginning phase of the selection process is important because a valid review of resumes aids recruiters in their decisions regarding which applicants possess the right combination of skills, knowledge, and experiences for particular job vacancies. Organizations can save on administrative costs by effectively utilizing the information on resumes. By screening out inappropriate candidates, organizations are able to limit the use of additional expensive selection measures such as on-site interviews and applicant testing which are typically administered after the review of resumes (Cole et al., 2005). A decrease in the number of inappropriate candidates moved ahead in the selection process may reduce the size of the pool of candidates. The organization is then able to more efficiently determine which candidates are going to be better employees if hired.

The resume reviewing process can also have an impact on the outcome quality of the stages and measures of the selection process used farther down the line. If the review of resumes leads to a better pool of qualified candidates, then other selection measures have the opportunity to make a greater contribution by identifying those candidates best suited for the job. Alternatively, if the review of resumes produces a pool of applicants that are poorly matched for the open job, then these other selection measures may be reduced in their effectiveness. Because recruiters form impressions from resumes, and because these impressions are correlated with an organization's decision to offer a job, the knowledge that comes from these resumes is important (Cable and Judge, 1997) and deserves careful study. …