Does your candidate write-up sound like the Gettysburg Address?

Well mine does, sometimes!

I’ve always had a tough time being succinct. Blame it on being a detail oriented, “transparent with the client”; hate to leave out anything Ms. Perfectionist”. My boss’s boss likes to say my middle name is “one hundred percent”. (Actually I quite like that though am not sure who’s getting the last laugh here) And, on the other hand, one of my managers says I write too much aka The Gettysburg. Geez, how to please ‘em all?? I am trying hard to be succinct. Frankly it’s been a bunch of years of trying. HA. OK seriously, I get better each year like a fine wine.

Now here’s what I think about this process. There is really no right or wrong here. Common sense should prevail and of course a good command of the English language or for that matter whatever language you are presenting in. We are so “globally local” these days that you have to “Think Global, Act Local” all the time. So go with what your Hiring Manager likes, go with what your Client likes. Mirror the recipient’s style and you will likely succeed.

Here’s a little ditty I composed (think of Peas Porridge Hot, Peas Porridge Cold)

Some like it long,
Some like it short,
Some like it to the point,
As long as the story is told.

It also depends on the type of recruiting firm (Third Party Recruiter) presenting a candidate – if you are an Executive Retained Search firm (all the details, some use a standard template even), Contingency firm (a resume and few lines may work) or a Staffing firm (take the middle ground here). Moreover, the quality and quantity of details varies by the candidate’s experience, length of work history, accomplishments/accolades not mentioned on a resume (every candidate should be smart enough to list this), the level of the position within the company, the impact this position has/will have on the organization and reporting hierarchy which may lead you to have some additional information than just the usual.

You have to build your case – the story has to be told. After all YOU were the first one to talk with the candidate, weren’t you? Clients have less time and Corporate Client Hiring Managers have even less time so I make sure I include the following data points, at a minimum, in my presentation write-up, aka The Story.

  1. Candidate’s full name in the introductory line. Then refer by first name or nickname or with an Honorific (Mr./Ms./Sir) if you need to be formal. This identifies The Who & sets the stage.
  2. Brief intro paragraph to summarize what you think this candidate can bring to the table and how his skill set would fit in with the organization. This Justifies the Who.
  3. Brief paragraph about candidate’s current job situation and why they may be looking. This is like the main plot.
  4. More brief paragraphs about prior work history, reasons for leaving each position. Here you introduce the “Other Characters”.
  5. Details on candidate current/most recent compensation. Some history or comp range on previous positions. These are details you don’t want to make obvious but you can’t afford not to share!
  6. If the position requires relocation, make sure you discuss this with your candidate (& he/she with the family) and let the client know the candidate is able to and provide soft details if the candidate has family in that area. Otherwise, this can be quite the anticlimactic show stopper in your story!
  7. Sum up with a few personal details if gathered on your screening call and wrap it up, re-iterating what great fit the candidate would be. The End.
  8. Always ask for the client’s/ hiring manager’s feedback and next steps on the candidate. Action Items.

Don’t ramble, stick to the facts, and interject some opinions.

As for that Gettysburg Address reference – well guess what – the client thanked us for the details and thought it very informative. Lucked out on that one!

We all have our styles and checklists. So how do you write yours? What do you include? What do you stay away from?

ORIGINALLY POSTED on Recruiting Arsenal on May 11, 2010

Views: 3710

Comment by pam claughton on May 13, 2010 at 8:21am
I used to write long, detailed candidate summaries, but have sensed for some time that the longer they are, the less apt they are to be read. This was confirmed by Danny Cahill this past weekend. He was a keynote speaker at the NEAPS conference and what stuck with me was an example he gave of a woman he was coaching. She had done a lengthy candidate summary like what you mention above, lots of details and at least five or six sizeable paragraphs. But then she said the client admitted to not reading her writeup and just going right to the resume, which they liked so they set her up. Danny then asked her how long it took her to write that long summary. She said 'oh just a few minutes.' But, as part of his coaching he had her on computer accounting software, which tracked how long she spent on calls or emails, and that email took her 37 minutes to write.

That made me pause. 37 minutes to compose an email. Probably not the best use of time. His suggestion, to shorten the summary to just a few lines hitting on key points, such as 'Jane has consistently exceeded her quotas and is a top performer. She is a must see. Please call me to arrange a meeting and to discuss her."

Simple and to the point.

Agree though, that it depends on your client. Some are info geeks like me, and prefer to read all about it and have all questions such as reasons for leaving, answered up front.

Comment by Meghan Mulhearn on May 13, 2010 at 11:58am
I have this problem, too! I get really excited about my candidates, especially if they are a GREAT candidate, and have to continually keep this in mind.

It's like what Tim Gunn says on Project Runway: "Edit, edit, edit!"
Comment by C. B. Stalling!! on October 13, 2010 at 10:01am
Just write the good stuff not to long
Comment by Jerry Albright on October 13, 2010 at 11:37am
I use to spend time thinking I had to come up with a perfect candidate write-up as well. Then it dawned on me - why not add a play button to the top of the resume and let the candidates speak for themselves.

The rest is history!
Comment by C. B. Stalling!! on October 13, 2010 at 1:24pm
Short and Sweet


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