Screening Resumes – Are you an Inclusive or Exclusive Recruiter?

I was speaking with a wise and knowledgeable colleague the other day who brought to my attention a major flaw with how most of us screen resumes and in turn recruit.   Most of us go through the screening process looking at “who can I eliminate from contention for the job” (a negative mindset) rather than approaching the responsibility with “what does this person offer that can really bring value to the job” (a positive mindset).

There are three important reasons for us to be aware of our screening approach, aside from it being a negative way of going about things.

  1. The talent shortage is not going to go away.  As such, the need to have an inclusive approach to screening becomes paramount.
  2. If an organization is really committed to diversity in its workforce, having such an ‘exclusive screening’ and recruitment process really goes against all that this stands for; suggesting it is all just lip service.
  3. Those of you involved in recruitment may also find a whole new level of personal satisfaction from the recruitment function.

I would welcome your thoughts on the topic, as it is only something very recent that I’ve been considering. No doubt there are many views and different factors I have not considered here.

Views: 364

Comment by Aaron Lintz on January 21, 2011 at 12:23pm

Exclusive is quicker so I would say most people are exclusive. 

Comment by Amber on January 21, 2011 at 1:27pm
Probably more often exclusive in relation to a specific job. I do try to also look at what the person might have that would maybe relate to a future search or for a particular client that I think might be interested in talking to the candidate. I think it really depends on the type of position, and the recruiter/client relationship.
Comment by Sandra McCartt on January 21, 2011 at 1:39pm

I try to think like my client.  If they are looking for a reason to hire i focus that direction.  If they are more focused on weeding out or looking for reasons not to hire from a group of fairly equal candidates i take the same comparitive approach.


I think a combination of both inclusive and exclusive gives the client a balance to compare, does not make us sound like we are pushing a candidate.  ie:  John has more years of experience than Judy, but Judy has delivered stronger numbers in the past two year than John has, so we might move forward with both to determine which would be the best fit.

Comment by Karen Lynn on January 21, 2011 at 6:16pm
John has more years of experience than Judy, but Judy has delivered stronger numbers in the past two year than John has, so we might move forward with both to determine which would be the best fit.

I think this approach is very smart Sandra. Qualities are not hired, People are hired. A search for qualities &/or criteria may get us in the ballpark and even onto first base but that alone does not a homerun make.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on January 21, 2011 at 6:46pm
I agree Karen we are not selling resumes.  I think recruiters get so bunched up trying to make hiring decisions for their clients that they forget our job is to get people interviewed.  Once we get one or two interviewed if we are off the mark we know what to include and what to exclude.  We can learn a lot  about a job by presenting people on a comparative basis as opposed to ticking off requirements.
Comment by Delores Ipms on January 22, 2011 at 12:17am
I look at recruiting just like love matchmaking. In the dating world people have verbal resumes, where they present themselves as so whom they would like to be or think that they are rather than who they really are. I go for the inclusive approach always, "I let them tell me who they think they are," and from the actual pre-screening interview make my judgments, "the first date." After this step the resume is revised, revised resumes only are used to compare official job orders with what they client is looking for, and it must say exactly what the client is looking for! Once they meet and make chemistry will the specifics and the demanding list be negotiated. I always ask clients to tell me what their eliminating factors are, if there are no eliminating factors they are a runner up.
Comment by Jason C. Blais on January 25, 2011 at 8:16am
This is an interesting post, and it's generated even more interesting comments.  I'll share a slightly different perspective- I volunteer with unemployed professionals groups to help those in transition find and get an interview for a job that will ideally become a great fit and a long career.  From the job seeker's perspective, it's critical to sell your "value-adds" not during the interview, to differentiate yourself from the other candidates. How those auxiliary skills fit into the resume, however, is a great point to consider.  As a hiring manager, I have certainly screened out resumes due to non-related experience/skills that lead me to believe that the client either wasn't going to be a long term fit, or going to be passionate about the work that was available. Very interesting arguments on both sides of this debate.
Comment by Jamie Lee on January 25, 2011 at 8:59am
I agree with Delores and think in a similar sense except that I think of mysel as the matchmaker and while try to limit my exclusions, I've often experienced, and as we all know from our own experiences, that some see values that other's may less. Not only are People hired, they are being hired By People.

Effective communication will let you help shine your rocks yet still allow you not to miss the pearls.
Comment by C. B. Stalling!! on January 25, 2011 at 10:02am
If at all possable I do not give my manager a resume i write or tell the manager about the candidate but managers get hung up on thing they read. I tell the manager why they should interview and they listen
Comment by Michelle (Shemenske) Hagans on January 25, 2011 at 12:38pm
I would add that for an initial screening in many cases it depends entirely upon the job order. If the client has provided a detailed position description then, out of the gate, I work primarily exclusively to eliminate the clutter that comes in. If the client has given us a "1 line order" (3rd party recruiters have ALL been there), then my initial screening is pretty inclusive. We send over profiles that we "think" may fit given the clients history (if any) and go from there. Often this prompts a more complete job description so everyones time isn't being wasted.


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