A snippet from a day in the life of a recruiter

Dearest candidate,

Thank you for spending the time to conceive and prepare your resume. The multiple-colored fonts, 24-point type and boldly framed five pages documenting your experiences have, indeed, caught my eye. In addition, I appreciate your sleuthing skills in having found my contact information, and I remain impressed by your initiative to leave me five voicemail messages this week.

Unfortunately, the hiring manager with whom I am working has already selected a group of candidates to interview for the available position. I will, however, retain your resume in my files, should an opportunity become available for which you might be a fit.

Very truly yours,

Suzanne King

Views: 218

Comment by Sean Harry on September 1, 2009 at 12:39pm
OK, So what does a candidate who gets this email do? Obviously the position wasn't actually open. Why even post it? And how can a candidate tell the difference between "REAL" openings and "FAKE" ones?

I'm a Career Coach, and one of the frustrations I hear from candidates is exactly this. It seems a waste of time for them and you. What advice would you have for the candidates?

Sean Harry
Comment by Sean Harry on September 2, 2009 at 1:57am
Check, check, and check. We do all of those things. Very helpful to hear it from the other side of the table as well.

Two more questions. . .

1) You give the impression that the chronological resume is essentially the only one worthwhile. What advice to you have for people who are wanting to change careers that have excellent transferable skills but little or no direct experience in the industry or position for which they would like to apply?
2) Do you really keep resumes on file for future reference? If so, do you have a method for systematically reviewing them?

Sandra, Please don't take my response as inflamatory. I am trying to have a dialogue here for the sake of recruiters AND job seekers. These are difficult times for all. Job seekers are frustrated because they do exactly what you suggest, and get virtually no response - well maybe one out of 200 that says, "we'll keep your resume on file..." Recruiters are inundated with hundreds (or thousands) of unqualified candidates for every position. What can be done to help bring the two sides together???

Sean Harry
Comment by Suzanne M King on September 2, 2009 at 11:20am
Sorry I'm a bit late chiming in here. The prior example is a case where the candidate's behavior actually landed him in the "no interview" pile. He crossed the line between displaying professional interest and stalker-like overzealousness.

Recruiters are inundated with applicants who do not even come close to fitting the advertised position, and Sandra's comments resonated soundly.

Indeed, the resumes are archived for future use. However, if the candidate's behavior puts him/her in the group of "questionables", chances are not good that he/she will be tapped for a future interview at a later date.

Also, I always keep my clients' preferences in mind when reviewing a resume. A bizarre looking resume is sure to get some push-back, so I'm in favor of formats that highlight strong skill sets and leave the fancy graphics to other applications.

Thanks so much for sharing thoughts, everyone!
Comment by Kent Sims on September 2, 2009 at 11:37am
Sean...I wanted to also offer a response to your most recent questions.

1. The chronological resume is what I use (and require) for presentation to my hiring managers. These hiring managers are hiring me to provide them with the particular type of person that they are looking for. Someone with the current skills. Someone that has the ability (99.9% of the time) to walk in and be effective immediately. They pay a healthy sum for this service, and for the most part they are not interested in a candidate that can not bring direct previous experience.
These comments are for IT jobs...other industries might have more success helping to accomodate career-changes. Usually (in IT) the industry is not as important, and I have had plenty of success bringing people to new positions regardless of their previous industry as long as their job role was very similar to the needs of the hiring manager.

2. ABSOLUTELY. I have resumes in my database that are well over 5 years old, and I regularly call people that I haven't spoken to in 2, 3, or 4 years to update with them and find out how their career has changed. I just presented someone this morning that I haven't spoken to in 3 years, but it just so happens I came across his resume in my database and I currenlty have an opening that fits his profile...so I called him.
Comment by Pam Sullivan on September 2, 2009 at 11:45am
I dont usually chime in here but....

1. I dont post stuff that isn't real. However, a lot of agencies do. Thats just the reality of it all.

2. When someone sends their resume in, I read it that day. I dont read line by line, I glance and see where they have worked, what their title is/was, the dates of employment, and I scan for the responsibilities they had under each job. Big summaries on the top, lists of skills etc are skipped over. I want to see what you did and where you did it.

3. I will send a not back if they aren't a fit for anything I have right now. It is short and says I read your resume, your background doesnt match anything I am looking for right now, but if its okay with you I will put it in the database and when something comes up that I think is even remotely close I will shoot you an email.

4. Your resume is an introduction. If the person you are sending the resume to is going to depend on your resume to "sell" you, you are probably in big trouble unless you spent hours tailoring it to the job description.

5. My pet peeve is when people send in their resume, and I have to scan to figure out whether they have a green card, EAD or US citizenship. Just state it up front. If the job accepts visas we will call you. If it doesnt, then trying to skip over the fact isnt going to help you.

6. I personally feel stalked when my phone rings off the hook with your number showing, you don't leave messages, and then you start calling my cell phone. It makes you look desparate, which is never good :)

7. We should all be courteous to one another. I know for a fact that some of the people sending me resumes right now are people I have tried to call in the past when they were the hiring Manager. They ignored me, didnt return my calls, or blew me off. But for some reason, if they call us now its somehow a reflection of our ethics or professionalism they we dont immediately call them back. Professionalism is measured by how you act all the time, not just when you need something.
Comment by Pam Sullivan on September 2, 2009 at 11:47am
Some spelling errors in my last post :) Was typing fast....
Comment by Spencer Johnson on September 2, 2009 at 12:24pm
Well, this rang an interesting cord with me as last week I DID have graphic designer send me her resume in a .pdf format. However, as I pointed out to her, that as nice as her resume was for a graphic designer, I and most others would not know who she was. All of my resumes go into an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). While this ATS is very helpful to me, it does not read .pdf files (yet). Therefore, when I pull up their resume I get a blank resume and your client even if qualified will never hear from me. I don't have time to go back to a source and ask them to send me a document in Word format (.doc, .rtf). Sean, since you obviously are checking out what recruiters want, I recommend that you do a little more searching for articles on submitting electronic resumes. These should be plain vanilla--no lines, no boxes, no borders, no tables, just the facts. Then my ATS (and most others) will be able to do a key word search and if your clients fit the profile, their name and resume will come up for review. Save the interesting resume styles for either mailing directly to a person or handing to the interviewer.

I also agree 100% in not applying unless you have at least 75% of the skills/requirements of the job that is posted and 100% of the education/years of experience. The resume should not list all the duties of the person, achievements or accomplishments or recognition is much more important. How many times do I see an admin resume and it says "I answer the phone, read the mail, reply to emails, and open the door with a smile for our visitors". I take these as obvious skills and if that is all that is on the resume, I gag and toss it away before I turn red. If the skills are that obvious, such as those of being a waiter/waitress, then just move on to the next job. I do like a single sentence that might address the duties, but then put down something that shows me what you can do if I give you a chance. And do it in bullet-form, not paragraph. I get bored reading long passages easily.

Regarding a change in careers, I would recommend that the bulletpoints focus on those accomplishments/achievements that are similar to those being requested. I would also address it in the cover letter as to why and what they bring that fits what is being asked for. I despise functional resumes as much as reading paragraphs because it makes me jump back and forth to figure out what they did and when. If I have to work that hard when reviewing a 100 resumes for a fit, I go to the next one to maximize my time and effort.

It should be conveyed to your clients that just because they think they are a good fit, doesn't mean that they are the "best" fit. As recruiters, we rank and prioritize the resumes we review. You could have all the skills listed, but if others have more of the skill set than you or they have done something for another company (accomplishment) that would be helpful to have, I am going to call them first or perhaps I am also looking for big company or small company experience as part of a culture fit and your client has the other. Not every job is meant for everyone that applies, just keep working on the search and networking and it will come. I've found new jobs several times and am usually glad I got the job I did when I did and not the job I would have taken just to have a job.

These are just my additional thoughts, good luck.
Comment by Greg Inguagiato on September 2, 2009 at 1:47pm
Sandra, I give this commentary at every Pink Slip Party and networking event I attend (your last paragraph, about their job being to look for work); I explain at seminars that the job search process is just that, a process, that must be followed systematically, without fail, and that the process must be reapeated over and over again, until the target goal is reached...i.e. getting the job offer. While I do not encourgage job seekers to "hunt down" recruiters or hiring managers, I do encourage them to engage in professional behaviors that may differentiate them from among other job seekers. Examples range from making one "1" follow-up introductory call, or when appropriate, stopping by to deliver a hard copy of the resume, so as to connect a face with a name. The aspect that continues to frustrate me and my colleagues, is the applicant who applies for every job, with little or no regard to the job requirements or qualifications needed. It's what I call the "shooting in the dark" approach. I don't know about everyone else, but when I receive job inquires or applications that are that far off the mark, Ijust move on to the next one. It cuts both ways these days....recruiters should exhibit good follow-up, but job seekers must also be equally discerning about what they apply for. Again, just my take on the subject.
Comment by Sean Harry on September 2, 2009 at 5:41pm
Great conversation folks. Thank you for sharing insights from the recruiting side of the desk. I've been a career coach for several years, and your thoughts resonate with what I have learned in that time. In short, my recommendation to someone who wants to change careers is that it would most likely not be productive to go through a recruiter UNLESS their experience and background match 90% or more of the position description for which they are applying. I almost never recommend that career shifters utilize a recruiter, as it's a lesson in futility and frustration for both sides. Your answers confirm this.

That being said, I believe that some recruiters are missing out on a potential gold mine by not looking at someone who closely fits a position even though they gained their experience in a different industry or job classification. For instance, not long ago I passed a resume along to a recruiter who was having trouble finding a qualified candidate. She needed "someone with 15+ years of successful experience in selling electric energy." The guy I sent her had “over 20 years of successful experience selling gas and oil energy.” She rejected his resume outright without even talking to the guy. She said, "gas and oil are not the same as electricity." O.K. I get that. I was trying to help her out, but all I got was a very rude response. I'm not saying he was a good fit, or even a fit. BUT, her rejection of his experience simply because he sold gas instead of electricity seemed to me to be a bit short sighted. Granted, she's more knowledgeable of the industry than I am, and maybe there is such a great distance between selling gas and electricity that my "outside of the box" thinking was simply naiveté. I do know that I have never sent another candidate her way, whether they fit her posting exactly or not. Her response was rude. I simply do not want people I work with to be subjected to that kind of rude behavior.

I understand the facts. Hiring managers are your clients. They pay your bills. Your job is to pass along highly qualified candidates. I have no problem with that. What I object to is a sense that SOME recruiters have for job seekers that amounts to little more than distain for wasting their time. I would never suggest a job seeker send one of those “cutesy weirdo” resumes. That’s not professional. AND, I know that without candidates recruiters have nothing to "sell." In this economy that may not be a big deal, but in the very near future statistics tell us that there is going to be a huge shortage of qualified workers for many positions. If you are trying to find nurses you know what I’m talking about. Hiring managers may pay the bills, but job seekers are important in the equation as well. My job is to help them understand what YOU (recruiters) are looking for and to help them present themselves to YOU in a professional manner. If they cannot do so, I recommend they utilize other tactics for finding their next gig.

Thanks for sparking this conversation Suzanne!
Comment by Suzanne M King on September 2, 2009 at 5:59pm
My pleasure, Sean


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