Recruiting In 3D

Busted: I Have Resume Bias

Ah, college. It’s where so many of those “this one time..” stories start, unless you attend a screen-shot-2016-09-01-at-10-33-10-amlot of open bar HR conference happy hours, of course. College is the place where you start to learn your story – personally and professionally. You being to refine those dreams and realize that maybe you don’t want to be a doctor or lawyer after all.

Upon graduation, 5 or more years later for most kids, you’re responsible for telling that story. For translating all of your learning and “work experience,” or lack thereof, into a cohesive and coherent resume. Of course, up to this point – you’ve never been taught to write a resume in the first place so your resume advice comes from an array of sources: family, friends, the Internet, of course. But many colleges also offer another resource, your college career center.

The first resume advice many of us get from an actual human is from that college career counselor. They’re supposed to be experts on careers, after all, and at the low price of $0 (if you ignore the tens of thousands you’ve already paid for college), they’re worth it.

I can almost hear the recruiters cringing now, especially those of us who have looked at a thousand resumes with the same formatting. The same mistakes. In general, we have a bit of mistrust towards these guys, often 20 plus year tenured veterans of the career counseling department. Our hesitance is valid considering they haven’t actually applied for a job since faxing in your resume was a thing at most companies. Read More

Sin City: Hacking Candidate Conferences

Under normal circumstances, I would not find myself within several hundred miles of Lasvegas Vegas at the beginning of August. I guess I’m a creature of habit and prefer Sin City at the start of the NCAA Tournament. That, and 110 degrees being OK because it is a “dry heat” is about as rewarding as being a member of the “clean plate club” as a kid. At the end of the day, you still ate that food, and 110 is still 110.

When I was invited by my friend and colleague Kathleen Smith (CMO of to come out and cover the BSides Las Vegas (BSides) security conference, I was happy to take it on. After all, I’ve hired security people before and I’m admittedly a little curious to know how they do what they do. That curiosity is just good recruiting behavior.

But I did have some reservations. I knew I’d be in way over my head with this crowd. I was sure they’d KNOW I was a recruiter. I’d be tossed out like a busted 13-side dice at a D&D marathon. And then for good measure, they’d hack the hell out of me.

I’ve never been so happy to be wrong before.

Read More

Mining For Gold: Turning The Resume Upside Down

When you are in Talent Acquisition, there are few certainties in your world. Job descriptions will change at the 11th hour, and budgets will be slashed, and candidates will change their minds with the frequency of  strobe light. But one thing has remained the same through all the hiring (r)evolutions in the last decade or so – the resume.goldrush

It may have changed in its look and feel, or the method of delivery to you the recruiter, but it still contains the core basic information as it always has. From the resume, one is able to tell where the candidate went to school, what they have accomplished professionally, and a few other odds and ends needed to assess if there is a baseline fit for a role. Depending on the candidate, you may also have additional sections to glean information about the candidate. They usually fall under a banner of “volunteer experience”, “hobbies”, or something similar. And this section, for all its brevity, it’s where the gold can be buried. Read More

What Corporate Recruiters Really Want From A Staffing Agency

Let me be really clear here to start this post off: I’m not hating on staffing agencies. In fact, far from it. I actually grew up on the agency side; I cut my teeth there. I made my bones there. And I clearly have watched Goodfellas like a hundred times too many. I’m grateful for my external recruitment experience and wouldn’t trade it for anything.

That may come as a tremendous surprise to most of you, but as a technical recruiter working in-house, I get a lot of calls from agency recruiters. Like, a lot. And they suck.

Allow us to take a moment, to mourn for those whose heads just exploded from shock.

I want to give something back to the staffing agency world where I grew up. This is a “let me help me help you….help me” type of mini-festo. Read More

Back to the Basics: Pure and Simple Candidate Sourcing Tips

Sourcing can be a tricky thing. It’s both an art and a science, and can be defined differently by almost anyone who practices it. It’s not always glamorous, and rarely sees the spotlight. And each practitioner has a methodology that works for them.

The words Back to Basics written on a clear glass wall by a man

It often appears intimidating to those not familiar with things like the deep weband can also be seen as cumbersome and time-consuming to the untrained eye. Those of usfamiliar with the practice often wonder if we’re missing out on something – a new hot tool or a shiny new object. But the question begs to be asked – particularly for new sourcers – Is sourcing all about Boolean strings, cold calling and the hottest new tool to come out of the valley? Is there more we can be doing to pay attention to other areas of sourcing that we do on a normal basis? Read More

Resume Reviews: Quantity or Quality

“We are overstretched and understaffed as a recruiting team.”

Does this sound familiar? Likely. It’s a common feeling across many teams. Many times this has a direct impact on the “resume black hole” that candidates and “thought leaders” so often reference. But here’s a question to ponder: why are we so inundated if we only spend an average of 6 seconds on each resume?  Read More

What does your resume say about you?

I get to look through a lot of resumes in my line of work. I know, I know, you are jealous. Who wouldn’t want to look through thousands of resumes every day? Especially when they are filled with people who are qualified, or those who couldn’t hold a job for more than 6 seconds (they just got fired again, right now!) or those with outlandish position histories? You know who you are, Mr. Fireworks Explosive Packer, and Miss Chimpanzee Trainer! (True stories) And while the vast majority of resumes fall into the “serviceable, and good enough to get a job” category, I’m noticing that more and more companies and recruiters want detail in the resumes of their applicants. I am in this bucket, trust me. They are looking for people who have the ability to sell themselves on paper, and distinguish themselves with hard facts, data and numbers. Read More

Be Seen To Be Found – Job Hunting In 2014 And Beyond

Ed Note: This post initially appeared on the Careers in Government – GovTalk blog. You can read the original post here.

Getting a job these days is about so much more than your resume. That’s not to say the resume is dead or not viable anymore, but it’s one of many tools in your job-seeking arsenal than your only tool. Employers, and recruiters specifically, are using a variety of tools to gather data on candidates, and they synthesize this data to pull together a picture of the candidates they are searching for. In addition to your resume, they are looking at your other work attributes, such as industry expertise and the like.

So what can you do to make yourself stand out from the sea of resumes, to enhance your personal brand and chances of being the “chosen one”?

Contribute To Your Community


Get involved. Be part of the community in your area of expertise by participating in discussions.  Recruiters are starting to get the sense that inMails and the like are paying fewer dividends. (and I’m sure the data supporting this is not far away) This is especially true in high-demand industries or skill sets. Being able to lend your expertise helps you stand out as someone who understands the nuances of your field and makes you more attractive. You’ll also have the opportunity to pay it forward and help the growth of less experienced people in your field. There are a number of sites to do this on including LinkedIn and Quora.

For example, you might be perusing the Security Clearance category on Quora, and you might see the following question in the picture. If you’ve had experience with obtaining a clearance as a consultant, you could contribute an answer to this. Quora allows you to track certain topics that you want to follow regularly, and is a great way to enhance your visibility.

Go On Out And Mingle

Get familiar with It’s a wonderful way to keep track of the events in your city that are relevant to you and/or/ your career. Being able to talk to other professionals in your field can lead to your own education and the ability to make great new contacts. Also, as you meet other people and share ideas, there is potential for you to be asked to sit on a panel or give a presentation. Take the opportunities available to you, both wide and small and you could be in high demand before you know it.

Where are the MVPs in my field?

Who are the top people writing on topics in your field? Are you reading their posts regularly to keep up on trends? Much like with LinkedIn or Quora, you have a platform to share your opinions and expertise with the readership community of the blog. Think about starting (and promoting!) your own blog if you find yourself noodling on certain topics. Chances are, if you’re thinking about it, so are others in your field.

Be You, Everywhere

Make sure all the social platforms that you use for business networking have an aligned profile.  SEO and ensuring that your content and profiles show up at the top of your search results. The more often that your profile is congruent across sites like LinkedIn, Quora, and Twitter, the more likely that search engines will pick it up, making your easier to find. So think about using the same picture and experience summary across each site.

Unlike athletes, most of us are not afforded the luxury of having an agent who can do all of our career promotion for us. That role falls on each of us. Fortunately, with the current landscape of sites available to do this, each of us are in direct control of our personal brand and enhancement of career opportunities.

What are some ways that you’ve been able to increase the opportunities available to you and help you stand out?

References: What you need to know

So you’ve gone through the application process, mastered the interview, and now the company is interested in you. But before you can embark on stepping up to take your new boss’ job (I kid,….sort of) you need to come up with some references so that the company can do it’s due diligence to see if 3rd parties will concur what they think they already know about you.

So here’s where you come in. Who do you select to be a reference for you? The simple answer here is that you should use former supervisors or other people who managed you, in order to be able to best demonstrate certain things. Your former bosses can typically be a future employer’s best source for how well you performed your job, how easy you were to work with or collaborate with, and what kind of potential you may have with the work you do, or what you could expand into in the future. They say that past behaviors are the best indicator of future behavior – take that for what you’d like, but this is how most employers see it.

Simple, right? Not so fast.

You really need to carefully select and vet the references that you give to a prospective employer. You should really be doing this prior to embarking on any interview process. Assumptions on who will give you a positive reference are a dangerous track to take. It’s recommended that you have conversations with each of the people that you want to supply as references, prior to doing so, so that you are able to gage who would benefit you most. Be sure to let them know that you would like to potentially use them as a reference, and if they would be amenable to providing a positive reference for you. This is a great time to take stock of where your areas for improvement are, and getting that information from these trusted reference sources. This allows you to get a picture of what they may say during the reference process, which also allows you to utilize that information in your interviews with the prospective employer. Especially if the topic is about an area of development for you. It gives some credence to your statements if the employer can see that you have a good handle on your areas of weakness, especially if it is backed up by a reference. This isn’t always a bad thing. Employers want to know that potential employees have a good handle on their strengths and weaknesses alike.

Be sure to keep up with your references often as well. Don’t be the person who drops a line every few years, to ask for a reference for a job that you had 10 years ago. I have a former boss that I worked for almost 11 years ago, who still is one of my chief references. Sure, it’s been many moons since I worked directly for him, but we talk every few weeks, and still collaborate on networking events. So, he has not only seen me grow professionally as a recruiter, but also as a networker, and someone who’s grown in the industry. He can speak to my career development, even if it was not all on his watch. It’s a mindset of keeping important professional contacts very close to you.

Lastly, give ALOT of thought to the person you use as a reference. Unless the company specifically asks for personal references (more likely in state or federal jobs), always err on the side of professional references, and particularly supervisors. Giving the name of your family member who you work with on the side, your co-worker, (unless extremely relevant), your co-coach of the local CYA Basketball team, etc. just isn’t going to help the employer that much. They want to know about you at work, and how you perform there. Personal references are usually used more so to assess character.

References should be one of those tools in your arsenal that are always prepared, ready and able to assist in putting you over the top with that job you really want. Like any other relationship you value, you have to cultivate and maintain it to get the optimal value.

Trust me, ask my references.

Bookmark and Share

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

%d bloggers like this: