Recruitment Tales – 6 Things I Wish I Could Tell Applicants
One of my clients is a fast-growing technology company. Part of my work with them has been focused on growing their applicant pool and then from that pool, identifying talent to bring into the company. Over the last 9 months, I’ve probably looked at over 1000 resumes for a wide range of positions that the company was trying to fill. Of those 1000, I’d estimate that somewhere around 60% were a waste of my time and went straight to the “Do Not Pursue” bucket.
For those wanting to avoid the dreaded “Do Not Pursue” list, here are a few insights into how I scan through resumes quickly so that I can actually do other work for my clients.
- Read the job description. This seems like a no-brainer, but in looking at many of the resumes that have crossed my desk, I would say way too many of you seem to only read the job title. I can tell, usually from your first job title/description, if you really are a candidate or someone doing “resume spamming.”
- Using a cover letter. Sometimes you don’t need them. Some times you do. If your resume doesn’t have clear alignment with the job, a good cover letter can help fill in the blanks and help me understand why I should consider you as a candidate. I don’t want a long story. Two to three paragraphs is enough to give me a quick sense of how your background could fit.
- Relevant experience. I had a posting for an enterprise sales position (really large B2B accounts) where the quotas were in excess of a $2M. I got more than 25 resumes for “sales” people whose experience was selling cell phone plans, jewelry sales, etc. Just because you’ve sold something doesn’t mean you can fill my sales role. When I list the kind of relevant experience that I need, I mean it. Now some job descriptions can get a bit crazy in my opinion (you’d have to be superman to meet all the requirements), but on the whole when someone says you need 5-7 years of relevant experience and you have none, don’t apply.
- Customize the resume. It takes a bit more time, but highlighting relevant areas for each job really helps. And if for some reason you don’t have time to customize, at least make sure you reference the correct company in your cover letter. (It happens more than I can count.)
- Referrals can hurt. I’ve had some people list employees as referrals and when I went to that employee and asked about the candidate they didn’t really know much about them or worse told me they weren’t someone they’d recommend pursuing. Someone you know on LinkedIn that works at my company is not a referral. Only use a referral that you know well enough that they can and are willing to be a champion for you. Otherwise, go it on your own.
- Adopting the right mindset. Put yourself in my shoes. I’m your customer, by the way. Is the information you’ve provided for me making it easier to do my job or will it leave me yelling at my computer screen because I just lost two minutes of my life that I’ll never get back as I tried to wade through your application.
Now, I’ll make a confession right now. I’ve personally violated all five of the rules I just noted, and guess how many jobs I got “breaking the rules” – NONE. Being on the other side of that process has been a real eye opener and helped me better understand why I got interviewed for certain roles and why I never heard back. Hopefully, these few thoughts will help you get the job you’ve been looking for.
Best of luck in your search!