Recruiting In 3D

Being a Candidate of Choice

Recruiters are in a unique position, in that what we do is neither purely art or purely science. It isn’t always about the ‘best’ resume, the pedigree school, or the numerous accolades. Occasionally different attributes cloud the clear cut decision based on skills, especially if that is critical in the position. Sometimes it’s really all about the intangibles that keep you in the running for that position. (Wait, you mean it’s not about that I was the #1 recruiter/sales-guy/excel spreadsheet ninja in my office?) Nope. It’s sometimes about the small stuff, and contrary to the book, you need to sweat this small stuff:  Read More

Cover letters? Are We Thin-Slicing Recruiting?

What is it with the love affair people have with cover letters? Is it professional? Sure. Is it a nice way to give a complete presentation of your professionalism? Check. Does it show you completed a basic course in business writing in college? Probably. But is it absolutely necessary to have in order to be considered a top candidate for a role? In my opinion, no. But that would differ from a great deal of opinions from people in the Twittersphere and Blogosphere right now.

There are a number of people out there who feel the cover letter is an essential piece of the puzzle, and key in determining the validity of a candidate. Just this week, there was banter out there on Twitter about how one Twitster would toss out the resume of a candidate who did not have a cover letter! Really? Are you that flush with candidates that you can just arbitrarily throw out potential stars because they didn’t have the obligatory “pick me” letter? I’d be hard pressed to believe that is the case with many companies in many areas, where the pool for talent is being thinned by everyone, and in a market where a large percentage of seekers are top performers, hit hard by the economy.

What I don’t get, is what are you getting from the cover letter that ensures that this candidate is better than everyone else who doesn’t have one? Writing skills? Ok, sure, but won’t the resume give you some inclination of the writing skills? Or the e-mails you have traded back and forth with them (assuming you DID e-mail with them). Most importantly, won’t their previous experience, and the phone call that you have with them tell you a bit more accurately if they are the right choice? Thing is, I think we’re becoming to focused on the quick hit, the “thin-slicing” of the recruiting process, to steal a phrase from Malcom Gladwell’s book, Blink. Don’t mistake me, recruiting is a quick moving, minute-by-minute profession, but we also need to step back at times, and make sure we’re taking in the full picture. Too often, we see no cover letter, and think “oh well they are not professional”, or “they couldn’t take the time to write me a personal cover letter?”

Lest we forget, that in this day and age, it’s becoming profitable to be a cover letter or resume writer. Do a quick search on Twitter for “cover letter” and you’ll get a minimum of 5 services in the 1st 25 tweets, for people peddling their services. (I’m not knocking it as a profession, it’s actually quite a needed service for some folks.) But, let’s remember that there’s a better than average chance, the cover letter you covet (too much ‘cov-” there? Ah, I digress) so much has a good probability of being written by someone else anyway, so it’s still not giving you the indicator of the candidate you want.

We need not kill off the cover letter. I think it’s a nice touch, and I’ll read it if there is one. But that said, let’s not let it become the determining standard. As with social media, it’s not the end game, its not the sole strategy, but more of a tool in the arsenal.

What a lovely segue to my follow-up post.

Bookmark and Share

Found Your Ideal Candidate? Good. Make a Good Offer.

One thing I never understand is why companies have a habit of making low-ball offers. As recruiters, we go through painstaking processes in order to source, attract, screen and move candidates through the hiring process. In many cases, a full write up is sent to hiring managers (or other KDM’s) and the vetting begins.

So why is it with so many apparent QC checks in place, that companies still tend to make offers that are clearly so far below candidate expectations? I know that the market is bad, and the sky is falling – this too shall pass – but that doesn’t mean we should not be planning for the future, with the hires we make in the present.

I said to Jessica Lee the other day, when she was pondering taking the SPHR exam, that the more bullets you have in your gun (i.e. the more training and depth you have) the longer you stay in the gunfight. Couldn’t then, the same be said for making an offer to a candidate that is compelling and fiscally savvy? If you know what the candidate makes and have spent the time making a a point to know what they want, and you know what the budget can handle, why would you then not make your most compelling offer up front, getting the candidate to accept quickly, and instilling an immediate sense of excitement that this is the right opportunity for them. You may also be DRASTICALLY reducing the rate of counteroffers as well, since if they feel wanted and satiated in their comp needs, then they may be less likely to even consider a counter offer.

Know the facts up front, hit the offer head-on, and make your organization one that is not pigeon-holed into being “one of those “low-ball” shops. Candidates will appreciate the candor, hiring managers will love knowing that you can close the deal, and they can get their 1st choice candidate.

Bookmark and Share

How not to do a job fair – Yes, YOU.

Ok, so after the last of the fall job fairs ended today, I really had to just take a deep breath. And, finish that last drink of beer here in the airport (What, a guy can’t imbibe after a long day of repeating the same phrase 647,…no, 648 times? I also decided to craft a list, a dummy-proof list of things to do AND not to do/say/spew at a job fair. Yes, I’m an equal opportunity whiner.

1. Have your resume with you. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to picture your resume in my mind’s eye like before the first time I went to Disney and pictured Space Mountain.
2. Research us a bit. Give me 1 sentence that tells me you have internet access and had the sense to show some (even feigning) interest in us.
3. Dress the part. It’s not an interview, but remember, I’m half-deciding if you are someone I want to interview.
4. Have a smile, and a story about who you are, and why you are a person I want to know. Half of all communication is non-verbal, and a smile says, “HI! How are you today?”
5. Know what you are looking for. Telling me that you majored in Marketing because you like marketing, or IT because you want to work with computers is redundant.

1. Invade my personal space. I can hear you from 12 inches away. (Caveat – DO talk loud enough for me to hear you from 12 inches away.
2. Recite a pre-rehearsed speech that tells me about every project, skill, tool, building you ever worked in or on. That’s why you have a resume. All this tells me is that you have no ability to quickly and concisely disseminate information to another person.
3. Be combative when I tell you that Astrophysical Material Science is related to our business, and I am wrong. Remember, I am the keeper of the keys/resumes. (wow twice in one week I pulled Astrophysic-somethin, BONUS POINTS)
4. Ask what our company does. Check the Interwebs.
5. Have a resume that looks like my 14 month old wrote it. Really? REALLY? This applies 100-fold if you are a PhD candidate, unless that is something you’ll learn at the dissertation stage.
6. Go off on a 10 minute diatribe about how I MUST be wrong about immigration and that you are eligible. I play by the rules set by the lawyers, not make ‘em. I could have lied to you, but I gave you the straight story on why.

Job fairs suck. We all know this. On our side of the table, we stand for 5-7 hours, repeat the same message, and collect all sorts of germs. On your end, it sucks to be herded like sheep at a pageant. But we can make it easier on both of us by doing things the right way.

Stay tuned for a recruiter’s version of the “million man” promise to candidates.

Bookmark and Share

“I’m Qualified! For EVERY job you have!”

One thing that really gets me going is when someone applies for 12 jobs on your site. And it’s not as though they are the software architect applying for all software jobs. It’s when they apply for the sales job, the accounting job, the medical examiner job, and so on.

REALLY? Are you qualified for all of those? Because if so, I have a car-sales business with bad numbers, and employees having heartattacks everywhere. HELP ME!  NASA could probably use a former Doogie Howser with some skills like that.

I think that it is a poor judgement on the part of the job seeker to just splatter a resume all over a career site. The intent is clear – the more I apply the more chance they will see my qualifications. When reality is when we see you apply for 15 jobs, we are much more likely to go on to the targeted candidate who has clearly targeted the one role they are most qualified for.

Bookmark and Share

%d bloggers like this: