The landscape for employment opportunities took a huge turn this year. Our office, like so many other executive recruiting firms, is being flooded with emails, resumes, and recurrent phone calls on a daily basis. You can imagine the deluge that is happening in the Human Resources offices of the attractive (and let’s be honest, even the not-so-attractive) corporations.

For some this is undoubtedly a painful time of transition. Sadly, many will need to revisit their expectations, including their compensation packages. In this pool, there are many who coasted along for years in their jobs. But companies can no longer afford the middling, the unimaginative, and the uninspiring.

Into the maelstrom were also thrown some very talented, dynamic executives. They were let go through no fault of their own other than being the object of across-the-board cost-cutting. Finding a new position will be challenging, but not impossible for these candidates. If you’re an HR manager, how do you find this needle in the haystack, the diamond, the potential rockstar? How do you select in a sea of ‘pick me’s’?

Start with state-of-the-art tools and know how to use them effectively. You also need a keen ability to spot talent when it comes floating across your desk. I’m no clairvoyant, but I do have over 20 years in the recruiting industry so I’ve become really good at sniffing out the B.S. (and I’m not talking college degree) from the real deal. As a headhuntress, when it comes to the hunt, I need to be merciless. I ask probing questions, demand realistic self-assessment and hand out blunt honesty. I do what HR managers wish they could do without jeopardizing the relationship with a potential “find.” I can take on the role of bad cop to my client’s good cop, without risking the company’s employee branding. (But I won’t lie or compromise anything told in confidence.) I leave the HR manager to present the company in the best light possible and only deal with candidates who have passed rigorous screening. I want my clients to be the hero. And I want the really good guy and gal candidates -- the smart cookies, the top talent to land on their feet.

Thinking outside the 9-5 box can also help. This can be an opportune time for candidates and clients to go for a test run; in other words, contract positions. While contract jobs do not come with benefits, which can be a huge dealbreaker for some, many times it is the first step toward a permanent position. A client who may not have the budget for a full-time hire, may be able to justify a project using a contractor. I have great stories about people we have placed this way with phenomenal results.

Don’t get swept under. Develop a strategy that doesn’t just have you surviving the flood, but uses this time to catch talent who under other circumstances may have passed you by.
Want to share your thoughts about how you are dealing with the resume flood? Please feel free to post your comments.

Views: 78

Comment by Alex on November 18, 2008 at 7:50pm
I was just thinking about that, being on the flip side right now I'm wondering about how to be a StandOut candidate. Do I show up and drop off a resume in person, Perhaps do something creative but not sure how far is too far to go. What would you do ?
Comment by Mike Sachleben on November 18, 2008 at 9:56pm
Do you often find exceptional talent lurking behind a ho-hum resume? If so, how do you quickly ferret out those people so you get them rising to the top rather than sinking to the bottom?
Comment by Sally Raade on November 19, 2008 at 2:10am
One successful ways of "Surviving the Resume Flood" is to apply for jobs that fits with your experience. If you don't have the right experience, the company will file the resume in N/A pile and soon there will be more resumes piling on top of the last N/A resume.
Comment by Jacob Share on November 19, 2008 at 3:43am
I don't expect Karen to give away her filtering secrets, but it was a nice read that sums up what many recruiters are feeling.

Some ideas for Alex or Mike: there's no such thing as a sixth sense. When your CV is being read, a recruiter is watching out for:
1) elements that match positions she's already trying to fill
2) questionable gaps or holes e.g. a year between jobs
3) Surprising highs/lows eg. a sudden big promotion or vice-versa
4) anything that sounds too good to be true
5) proven track record of success and achievement
Comment by Dean Lockett on November 19, 2008 at 8:31am
On the flip side of this flood, our clients have got to be going through the same situation. I see several recruiters looking for work, might want to use this scenario to sell your services to HR to "sandbag the flood" of resumes they are receiving now too. Sell to their pain.
Comment by Elaine Basham on November 20, 2008 at 12:45pm
As someone who has written resumes for executives and professionals for the last 12 years, what can I do to make sure that the resumes I create for my clients will get to the top of the heap? Whenever a client is open to a contract consulting role, I add that to their cover letters, of course - what else can I do? What makes you as recruiters read one resume over others?

My goal is to do everything I can to make sure I help candidiates stand out by focusing on their skills and quantifiable achievements/contributions. It seems more important than ever for highly qualified candidates to have a resume that makes them the candidate that recruiters really want to present - what can I do to help my candidates stand out and succeed in their job search?


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