Tuesday, December 17, 2013

"What Recruiters Look At During The 6 Seconds They Spend On Your Resume" by Vivian Land in Business Insider

Last year, Vivian Land wrote a fascinating article in Business Insider that captured the essence of some stunning research I had been hearing about.  The research reveals how internal recruiters who are doing initial screening of candidates for their companies treat the resumes that come before them.  The results are chilling and should impact the way every candidate treats their job search.

"Although we may never know why we didn't get chosen for a job interview, a recent study is shedding some light on recruiters' decision-making behavior. According to TheLadders research, recruiters spend an average of "six seconds before they make the initial 'fit or no fit' decision" on candidates. 

The study used a scientific technique called “eye tracking” on 30 professional recruiters and examined their eye movements during a 10-week period to "record and analyze where and how long someone focuses when digesting a piece of information or completing a task.
In the short time that they spend with your resume, the study showed recruiters will look at your name, current title and company, current position start and end dates, previous title and company, previous position start and end dates, and education."
I encourage you to read the entire article.
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/heres-what-recruiters-look-at-during-the-6-seconds-they-spend-on-your-resume-2012-4#ixzz2nlbgxh8c

Pretty depressing, eh?  No wonder you hardly ever hear back when you post your resume electronically or mail it to a company in response to a job posting.  What about all the effort you put into crafting a perfect Objective statement?  What about your honors and volunteer work, your leadership intangibles?  Ignored during the initial screening.

Other research shows that entry-level HR professionals and software programs are instructed to count key words in resumes  and match them with key words in the job description.  Again, no chance for the truly exceptional candidate to stand out.  The system is hopelessly flawed, and shows no signs of being repaired in the foreseeable future.

What to do?

In a nutshell, I suggest performing a flanking maneuver around the system so that as a candidate you are recognized for who you are.  Simplistically, here are some steps to follow:
  • Prepare the very best resume that you can.
  • Next, prepare narrative versions of four great stories.  I call them, "War Stories" or "Home Run Stories."
    • Pick the achievements in your career that you are most proud of and write each of them up as a one or two page narrative.  
    • Use this structure: What was the problem to be solved?  How did you and your team uniquely solve the problem?  What were the results?
    • Prepare to weave these narratives into every conversation you can have with people in your network who may be in a position to put you in front of a hiring manager.
  • Do a deep dive into your network - LinkedIn, FaceBook, Alumni Directories, etc.
    • For each job you would like to apply for, find a person in your network or someone who is one degree removed from someone in  your network and ask for a 30-minute phone call or an opportunity to buy them coffee or a beer.
    • Your goal is to share your stories and ask them to become the inside champion for your candidacy within the target company.
    • Ask them if they see you as a good candidate for this position. If they do, ask if they would be willing to make a personal introduction to a decision maker involved in the hiring process. 
  • Once you have shared your resume and narrative stories with the decision maker, ask him or her when  it would be appropriate to post your resume into the "system."  They will know how things work with their company's hiring process.
Here is a cautionary tale.

Last year, a very capable candidate I know well was applying to Google.  He was well qualified.  I contacted a friend of mine who is well positioned within Google.  I described the candidate, and my friend agreed that this person sounded ideal.  He wanted to be introduced, but then he inserted this question: "He has not already applied on-line has he?"  The answer, unfortunately, was "Yes."  "Then there is nothing I can do.  Once a candidate is in the system electronically, Google does not allow anyone outside of HR to be involved in the screening process.  Sorry."

I hope these tidbits of insight are helpful.  The right job is out there for you.  We just have to work together creatively to get your noticed by the right decision makers.


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