The following are purely from my perception as someone who takes part in the recruitment process, you may have different opinions and the most important thing is, that is ok. On average I participate in up to 100 job postings a year and for many of those postings I actively participate in the screening and interview process, especially when hiring for managers or above.
I have noticed, wide differences in quality when the recruiting process is taking place, some good, some great and some, needing improvement.
- First and foremost, respect the candidates. We have told ourselves as an industry that there is a never ending line up of candidates and can treat the process of recruiting like a cattle ranch. Every submitted application is someone taking the time, rather long or short to say “hey! I want to work for you!”.
- If there is in fact a never ending line up of candidates, then it is more important than ever to ensure we are selecting the absolute best candidates for the job.
- Continuing with respect for the candidates I highly recommend acknowledging receipt of applications, most companies use applicant tracking systems which do this automatically. If your company does not have this kind of technology I encourage looking into doing this manually which may in fact prove that your company needs an applicant tracking system. Applicants hit “send” and then have to sit, wonder and wait. Let them know they can breathe and await the next step.
Reviewing the Resume
I am not going to speak to the total application review and will just focus on the Resume review. The total applicant screening is fairly black and white.
- There is an over focus in the recruitment world on only accepting “perfect” looking resumes. What is perfect? are you perfect? The truth is that nobody is perfect and their resume will not be perfect either - so, have we set the bar too high? perhaps. Now, I am not saying we have zero standards or accept resumes that are clearly rushed through, I am saying that we need to focus on the basics. Does the candidate meet the minimum required experience, education and skills. I encourage job seekers to create clean original looking resumes in order to stand out, as so many look the same, at a basic level it should capture our attention at a glance.
- Do pay attention to the Objective and see if the candidate took the time to mention your company and the specific position they are applying for. This tells me as the hiring manager that the candidate has taken the time to customize this resume for the company and position. One thing I am picky about, if they have applied to my company as company “ABC” and their resume says company “DEF”, this tells me something. It tells me they were not paying attention. I do not just discard this applicant however. Depending on the situation and position hiring for I may reach out to the candidate and bring up the error to see how they react, then go from there.
- Looking at employment experience, I recommend that we stop being so picky about the dates of current and previous employment. My requirements are that I do not need to see exact month of start and stop unless it is within one calendar year. Otherwise I am totally fine with years of start and stop. The reason I say this, unless I see jobs that only last a couple months, one after another and so on, a year or longer is steady employment at that point. Also, this obsession with gaps in employment. Every person on the planet working will have gaps in their employment. Plus, consider the following scenario. While reviewing a resume with the candidate you ask them to explain the two-three month gap in employment between two jobs and their reason was a family emergency such as a death. One that is their own private information and second, having to disclose that information may cause them discomfort and stress to the point that they fail the interview. You may have lost a great candidate.
- Grammar/Spelling, this is important to consider. I like to see correct for both, we have to consider though where the applicant is applying from, what their native language is etc. I cannot be as picky with an applicant from a non english country than I could be with a local native english applicant. Again, considering the above, are you losing out on a great candidate because their spelling is not at a native english level? if you are concerned because they will have to conduct work in English have them complete an English Language proficiency test.
- Respectful follow up. If upon reviewing a resume and you decide not to proceed with an interview you should have a system in place to communicate that information to the applicant. Remember, you are already working there, they want to also, and are sitting, waiting and wondering. It shows care and heart, maybe it is not their time today, keep trying and maybe they will move forward in the future. It demonstrates respect and good-will. You may not want to interview this candidate, they may be a customer though and the lack of professional care and follow up may in fact turn them away from your brand. Imagine if recruiters were followed up on the same way customer service staff are when they are responsible for the loss of a customer?
Technical Stuff, please stop…
- Requiring the resume to be submitted in Word. format. There is no reason to require this. Plus from a privacy standpoint it opens up the document for manipulation, nobody should be sending un-secure documents. A PDF should be the accepted document type. I for example use a Mac and my resume is created in Pages. I can export it into a Word. format however the style and formatting becomes all messed up and looks terrible, remember first impressions and the irrational pursuit of perfection?
- Consider the requirements of references. I find it ironic that many large organizations refuse to provide professional references, yet require them from applicants. This should be a balanced rule as I am finding more and more applicants struggle to provide three work related references from superiors. Remember also that, although it is not illegal to give a negative reference as long as what is stated is accurate many employers shy away from that for fear of legal implications.
What are your thoughts on the above? Please share and comment below. Is it time to modernize how we process and review job applications?
Happy candidate hunting!