Sunday, September 29, 2013

Rethinking the Hiring Process

The Number 1 reason not to hire someone who has all of the skills is lack of motivation to do the actual work required.  

However, motivation to do the actual work isn’t easy to measure during the course of the traditional interview for three big reasons. First, the actual work is rarely defined in enough detail, and most people won’t be fully committed unless they find the bulk of the actual work appealing. For example, system architects aren’t going to be too excited to perform detailed coding if they thought the job involved more complex work. That’s why clarifying expectations before the hire is so important. Second, many interviewers assume motivation to get a job and extraversion are predictors of motivation to do the job (of course, they’re not), therefore they think they can skip the part about figuring out actual job needs. Third, there are a number of other factors that have been shown to affect motivation and on-the-job performance that are generally ignored or superficially assessed. These include team skills, problem-solving, the coaching style of the manager, and cultural fit, among others.

By ignoring these factors managers frequently hire people who are competent to do the work, but not motivated by it. Worse, they don’t hire people who are a bit off on the skills, but highly capable people. Here are some techniques you can use to minimize these problems as part of the fact-finding when using The Most Important Interview Question of All Time.

How to Avoid Common Hiring Mistakes

  1. Talent and Technical: Seek out evidence of the person doing exceptional work, learning rapidly, influencing others on technical matters, or successfully handling comparable technical issues similar to actual job requirements. Be concerned if they’re not present. For those a bit light on the skills, ask about the biggest problem they’ve handled with the least amount of skills and how they were learned.

  2. Management and Organization: Few managers evaluate a person’s ability to meet schedules and deadlines or properly handle multiple priorities. Be concerned when you hear too many excuses for tasks not being met, if the planning is reactive, or if the person does not have a track record of consistently committing and delivering.

  3. Team Skills: People with strong team skills – whether they’re affable or quiet in the interview – are assigned to important teams, they coach others and/or they are asked to lead important projects. Be concerned if you don’t see this type of evidence.

  4. Problem-solving and Decision-making: Ask candidates how they’d solve realistic job-related problems. As part of the discussion get examples of similar problems they’ve handled, and how they were solved. Be concerned if the logic isn’t sound or if the stories don’t match.

  5. Job Fit: You need to assess more than technical competency to determine on-the-job performance. Get multiple examples of the person getting excited and motivated by doing similar work to what’s actually required. That’s why preparing a performance-based job description ahead of time is so important. During the interview make sure the examples are from the recent past, too. A candidate who is highly motivated to get the job might not be as excited by doing it for long if they don’t find it challenging or interesting.

  6. Managerial Fit: The hiring manager’s coaching and leadership style are a key aspect of job satisfaction and motivation. Ask about the candidate’s past managers to see if and how this affected performance. Then make sure there’s a style fit with the new hiring manager.

  7. Culture and Environmental Fit: The pace of the organization and the degree of structure define a large portion of a company’s culture. This is why people from larger more mature organizations struggle in start-ups, and why start-ups sometimes have difficulty growing past a certain point. Be concerned if the candidate’s success don’t match up on an intensity, resource availability, or decision-making standpoint.

  8. Motivation: During the interview find out what drives or motivates the candidate. It could be the challenge of the job, the hiring manager, the security the company offers, the people on the team, or that the person is naturally committed to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Be very concerned when the source of motivation doesn’t match what you’re offering.

From what I’ve seen, after participating in thousands of interviews and debriefing sessions, is that there is too much emphasis during the typical interview on technical competency, personality, first impressions and presentation. Little of this predicts on-the-job performance or job satisfaction. It’s pretty easy in a 45-60 minute interview to tell if someone clearly won’t make the team, or if the person has the potential to be a star. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of great people in the far larger middle group who aren’t hired, but should have been, and many competent, but unmotivated people, who are. Taking this extra steps above in the next 45-60 minutes is how you make sure the right person is hired – one who is both competent and motivated.

Now for a radical idea to address this problem head-on. What about measuring technical competency last, or at least minimizing it’s importance, rather than using it as up-front filter? This would open up the door to more high potential diverse candidates, returning military veterans, younger people who want to launch their careers, and those more seasoned people looking for more than just another job. Of course, this would mean rewriting job descriptions, redesigning the application and assessment process, and incorporating fast-track training programs into every job. But consider the impact: hiring more highly motivated, high potential people of diverse backgrounds with fewer technical skills, but able to rapidly learn and grow. Now that just might be a hiring mistake worth making.

via Rethinking the Hiring Process | LinkedIn.

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Rethinking the Hiring Process

Why are there so many women in HR?

I know that I am probably heading into dangerous waters by asking this question; but why are there so many women in HR and what – if any – are the consequences?

In US as well as Europe, HR is totally dominated by women. In US the number is close to 70%; 71% of HR managers according to the Forbes List of the Top 10 Best-Paying Jobs for Women in 2011 and 69% of HR professionals based on a study by HRxAnalysts.

Women’s domination of HR has even extended to the CHRO ranks, despite the persistent belief that men still occupy the vast majority of the top jobs. 67% of all VP’s of HR posts are now held by women.

In Europe the picture is pretty much the same. In UK, 72% of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) members are women. Here in Denmark the picture is the same – just above 70% of people employed in HR are female.

What may surprise some is that the proportion of women in HR has been rising over the last 10-15 years. In UK in 1997 the proportion was 63.8% and then steadily rose to 79,3% in 2007 since when it has been flat. The same is true both  in Denmark where the rise was notable between 2000-2008 as well as in US.

Numbers and statistics can sometimes be deceptive. But not in this case. Personally, when I speak to groups of HR people or meet with HR as a consultant, I will mostly meet with a woman.  John Sumser said in 2011 following a large study, that “HR is a 47 year old white woman” in US. From my own experience I certainly see what the numbers are telling me.

And this picture is unlikely to change. Looking at universities across the Western World, most of the graduates in HR focused classes are primarily female. Here in Copenhagen, the HRM line at the Copenhagen Business School has 18 men and 132 women attending from what I am told. Also looking at the leadership pipeline, it is most likely that HR will continue to be dominated by women. In UK, 86% of entry level people in HR are female.

The only thing I can see that might change this picture is if HR become more data-orientated, more technology-based, more evidence-based, more financial orientated and yes, more of a science. I was at a Workforce Analytics conference in London earlier this year and most of the participants were men. I am making a lot of assumptions here, but perhaps something like WA will change things?

Why are there more women than men in HR? This is where it becomes dangerous (for me). A few suggestions are

Some point towards genetics and biology which – goes the argument – lends itself to the female nature of caring and developing people. They argue that HR is simply more suited for women.

Others point towards a long term trend in HR away from the hard core industrial relations (macho and male dominated) to the more developmental psychological HRM which is more feminine in its approach.

Some say that some functions are male/female – HR being female, IT being male. The argument goes something like this; with more and more females entering the workforce, HR (together with Communications) attracted more female in the male dominated business world from which men had not intention of letting the power slip away.

Others argue that HR simply is less discriminatory and therefore easier for women to enter.

Frankly, I don’t know what the reason is. All I can do is to conclude that there are many women in HR – a trend which has been rising for the last ten years. But why? I would like to hear your view on this one.

The final question must however be; does it matter? This is a classic question in any diversity program; will a company make more money if more of its senior leaders where women and similarly will HR be better and deliver better services if there were more men? Again, I don’t know. But I do believe in general, that the best results – in any function, department and at any level – is achieved with a balanced workforce. Is HR in balance?

via Why are there so many women in HR? | All about Human Capital.

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Why are there so many women in HR?

Recruiting the Effective Job Applicant

While there is no perfect employee, some job seekers are much more effective than others. These are the individuals who are indispensable to their companies.

By effective, I am referring to someone who delivers results. They don’t need to be micromanaged. Recruiting the effective job applicant means staffing someone who is going to deliver earnings.

Moreover, these individuals can thrive during turbulent times. Clients like them. Co-workers emulate them. He or she has a vision, sets firm goals and relentlessly pursues those set achievements.


Recruiting the Effective Job Applicant

Effective job applicants are in short supply as they carry a high demand. Often, these employees have multiple job offers. This is the case even when they are not actively seeking employment.

Their ability to make organizations money combined with multiple parties bidding to recruit them raises their asking salary price.

Regardless of asking price or availability, recruiting the effective job applicant begins with determining who can and can’t get the job done properly.

While the effective employee comes in every size and shape, they all share similar ingredients. To mitigate the complexity of staffing them, here are 5 traits to actively seek out when recruiting the effective job applicant.


Deciphering Traits for Staffing Purposes

1. Strong leadership qualities – Recruiting the effective job applicant begins and ends with strong leadership qualities. They don’t follow. Rather, their leadership qualities allows them to innovate.

They can inspire trust. The effective job seeker is original. They are their own person.

Additionally, recruiting the effective job seeker means finding those individuals who are not people pleasers. Instead, they use their candor and self-confidence to stand up for what they believe in.


2. Desire to succeed – The effective job applicant doesn’t focus on limitations. Rather, they focus on possibilities. They consistently test themselves.

The ability to staff job seekers like this starts with the belief system that a manager can’t motivate a person who doesn’t have the drive for success.

In the effective applicant, there is an inherent drive to succeed. This is both in their personal and professional life.

They are passionate. This passion to become both a better person and better employee ends up being the foundation for their ability to seamlessly execute on the jobs that need to get done.


3. High intelligence – The effective job applicant embraces learning. They want to be involved in everything. These individuals have a curiosity that allows them to learn from errors.

Their intelligence affords management the luxury of saving training time. They realize that they are their own best teacher.

When recruiting, a hiring manager can decipher the effective job seeker by that individual’s belief that they can learn anything.

Additionally, their calm and collected manner gives them the luxury of representing their organization in a professional, composed manner.

A well-spoken demeanor derived from their intellect makes their appear more confident and leadership oriented to their clients.


4. Willingness to make mistakes – The effective job applicant enjoys the journey of success. Often, they anticipate mistakes.

Though, when mistakes are made, they possess an unique outlook on the situation. Mishaps are not pervasive, career ending events.

They consider mistakes one step closer to getting it right. Their ability to learn stems from discovering the wrong way to accomplish tasks.

They see positives in what many consider a negative. This fuels risk taking which, in turn encourages more innovation.

Conversely, the average job seeker strives for a perfection that is never there and this ambition ends up hindering their ability to truly excel.


5. Loyalty and integrity – Integrity hinders on trust. Without it, an effective job seeker quickly become average. They keep their word.

Regardless of setbacks, their personal values remain intact. Co-workers and clients alike are attracted to their dedication to do the right thing.

He or she has a vision of doing the right thing. Recruiting the effective job seeker means finding those people who possess a rigid value system.


In the End

One of the biggest issues that companies face is finding and properly recruiting the effective job seeker. When staffing these individuals look for leadership qualities that are not present in the average applicant.

You’re not going to get the recruiting process right every time. However, finding those effective job seekers will allow an organization to overcome significant hurdles and climb mountains they never thought possible.


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Recruiting the Effective Job Applicant

3 Ways Big Companies Are Winning The War For Talent

Let’s cut right to the sobering truth: the war for talent is upon us. Even more sobering is that recruiters unprepared for battle are already at a disadvantage. But don’t start searching for a white flag to wave just yet, there’s still hope! Small changes to a recruiting strategy can transform you into a fierce competitor ready to go toe-to-toe with talent giants like Google, Time Warner, and Zappos. Let’s follow the first rule of war (OK, enemies might be a bit dramatic but you get the idea) with a quick look at three ways big companies are scoring top talent, and what you can learn from their success.

Investing In Big Data

Google is famous for cherry-picking the world’s best talent to work for its growing online empire. For most of it’s history, submitting your SAT scores and answering questions like, “How many golf balls would it take to fill-up Fenway Park?” was par for the course during the Google interview process. While most of their recruiters thought it an effective way to hire some top guns, there was little to no data to back it up.

Things changed when Laszlo Bock, Senior Vice President for People Operations, and his team ran a study to determine whether anyone at Google was particularly good at hiring. He notes, “We looked at tens of thousands of interviews, and everyone who had done the interviews and what they scored the candidate, and how that person ultimately performed in their job. We found zero relationship. It was a complete random mess.” This was the catalyst that caused Google to make significant changes to increase the efficiency of their hiring process.

You may be asking yourself what you should learn from Google’s failure, but it’s really how they uncovered their failure that provides the best insight. Leveraging big data will show you what pieces of your recruiting strategy should be optimized. More importantly, it will help you uncover those “diamond in the rough” candidates that were overlooked due to indicators that simply won’t predict future performance (GPA, university, resume, etc.).

Incorporating Assessments

If big data is the cave holding all those precious diamonds in the rough, employee assessments are the picks you use to bring them to the surface. It’s one of the easiest steps you can take to lower your cost per hire and decrease your year-over-year turnover rate.

Just ask Time Warner. After years of dealing with a high first year employee turnover rate and an abundance of bad hires, they decided to implement company-wide assessments strategy to help improve efficiency. A recent case study in Talent Management shows how successful the change was. After implementing assessment tests into their hiring cycle, Time Warner found a, “16% lower first-year turnover rate for customer service, versus those not using it. After implementing company-wide pre-employment testing, the estimated cost savings was $2.6 million.” This is in addition to a 70% increase in employee productivity.

Time Warner’s incorporation of assessments leveled the candidate playing field and allowed the best, most productive candidates to rise to the top.

Creating a Solid Candidate Experience

The importance of a great candidate experience has been a hot topic in recruiting circles as of late. Many of the most prominent employment brands are spinning positive candidate experiences to reflect a strong company culture, and attract top talent.

Zappos invested heavily in candidate experience long before it was a hyped-up buzz word. With tens of thousands of applicants rolling in each year, it would be easy for the company to rest on its laurels, but they’ve committed to providing everyone who sends in an application a “Wow!” experience, regardless of if they’re hired or not. Zappos does this flawlessly from it’s first contact with job candidates and carries it through the entirety of the hiring process. They start by limiting the number of applications they receive for a specific role so that each candidate is responded to, and follow through with personalized notes to all candidate’s at each stop of the process. This opens the doors to boundless word of mouth exposure. Even candidates who are turned down are impressed with the polite, personal letters Zappos sends out, a refreshing change of pace for folks who are used to hiring managers with dismal communication records.

The most important thing to remember about implementing a flawless candidate experience is that you’re not just recruiting employees, but are sowing the seeds of your reputation. The best part is that these changes are relatively easy to implement. Applicant tracking systems like Jobvite have features that alert candidates when their application has been received, and more personal emails take just a little bit of thought and 30 seconds of your time.

With these lessons from the big boys securely in your recruitment arsenal you’ll have all weapons you need to confidently wage the talent war. Now get out there and join the fight!

via 3 Ways Big Companies Are Winning The War For Talent – RecruitingBlogs.

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3 Ways Big Companies Are Winning The War For Talent

Having a Recruiter in Your Job Search Isn’t Just Smart, It’s Necessary

Hiring is no longer a run-of-the-mill activity performed by Human Resources. It’s an art form.

For every job advertised, there are hundreds of candidates who are fighting for the same spot. While you may think you are the perfect fit for that position, those other applicants believe they are better than you. You need something to help you stand out from the rest. Something that puts you in front of that hiring manager and says, “You need to hire me. Now.”

Having a good recruiter in your back pocket can set you apart from the pack. Below are 6 key reasons why working with a recruiter will put you at the head of the class.

1. Direct contact with a hiring manager.

Recruiters spend their careers building relationships with the people decide the fate of your future employment. They devote that time to learning what not only makes someone a good fit technically, but also culturally. They can tip you off to talk about football because the hiring manager is a huge Giants fan. By the time your first phone call with a recruiter is over you know if you have what it takes to be the company’s next employee and how to use that to your advantage.

2. Recruiters know the “ins and outs” of the job description.

When you review a job description what are you doing first? Identifying if you match the bullet points advertised. You read the first seven bullets and think, “Well I match five of them so I should be perfect!” Unfortunately for you, those two you didn’t match are actually the most important for the job. Don’t get lost in the job description wish list. A good recruiter will know what areas of the job description are most important to the person you’ll be working for, and which ones are secondary.

3. Provide Career Advice

Recruiting is much like a batting average. Success is determined by failing more than winning. Recruiters know what a bad interview looks like, and how it can be prevented. If you are an average job seeker, chances are you’re only interviewing with 3-4 companies. That means you have a few shots to be the best. Working with a recruiter gives you the chance to learn from other’s mistakes. Spending 10 minutes with a recruiter will help you figure out what makes a job applicant attractive to hiring managers saving you hours of wasted interviewing time.

4. Up Front Honesty

The fact is that companies usually don’t tell you why you are not getting the job. They want you to believe that there was a “better applicant” or they ignore you completely. Hiring managers aren’t afraid to tell recruiters the real deal because it spares them from breaking the news to the applicant and hearing any backlash or worse, disappointment. Recruiters aren’t afraid to tell the candidate this information because ultimately they are not the ones who feel this way. It’s not fun, but a good recruiter will give you the black and white truth to provide as much clarity, closure and coaching for the future.

5. Interview Preparation

The average job seeker is not an expert at interviewing, at least they probably shouldn’t be! Recruiters, on the other hand, make a living off of interviews. They know if the hiring manager prefers someone who dresses down, shows up 15 minutes early and has a very firm handshake. This knowledge is pivotal in this day and age of job searching. I’ve seen a candidate lose out on a Vice President position for not knowing how much stake the company held in a post-interview thank you note. Working with a recruiter gives you inside knowledge and tips on how to stand out from the rest of the applicants

6. Resume Assistance

If you are like most professionals you have acquired a multitude of different skill sets throughout your career. Although it would be nice to label all of it, there just isn’t enough room and no hiring manager will read a 15 page resume. Even the best writers can use a leg up sometimes. Recruiters know what each manager views as most important to see clearly on the resume. They will ensure that the first thing the hiring manager reads is the exact experience they are looking for in the perfect candidate.


Working with a recruiter will get you closer to your dream job by separating you from the herd, but don’t just work with the first recruiter who calls! Understand their market, clients and industry. If you are an IT Director looking for an executive level position it makes no sense to work with a Financial Recruiter who staffs tax accountants. The recruiter/ candidate relationship should be one of understanding what the two of you can do for one another. Like every partnership, a good match makes for a good life.

via Having a Recruiter in Your Job Search Isn’t Just Smart, It’s Necessary – RecruitingBlogs.

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Having a Recruiter in Your Job Search Isn’t Just Smart, It’s Necessary

7 Words I Never Want to See on Your Resume

Recently, I came across a post I highly recommend: “7 Words I Never Want to See in Your Blog Posts”.

That inspired me to think about the words that – for recruiters and team builders – can create a terrible first impression. Not words like “dependable” and “detail oriented” – those have been blogged about ad nauseam (and I don’t blame people for using words that old-school experts have espoused for decades). I also don’t mean the clichés that rear their ugly heads far too often during an interview or follow-up like “It is what it is…”

I’m referring to the words that show me a lack of effort, leadership or confidence – and make me want to disqualify the applicant from consideration whenever I see them.

Without further delay, here are the seven words I never want to see on a resume:

1. Approximately

You have to approximate? You don’t know what you did? Or you do know, but creating a good first impression wasn’t a big priority for you when the resume was sent to me. If you don’t know – find out. If you do know – show some confidence, and tell me down to the tenth percentile what you accomplished. That is impressive!

2. Assisted

Unless you work in a dental office or are a point guard, I don’t want to hear about your “assists”. We hire leaders here, so I want to know that you were the one being assisted. In a humble way, tell me what you did, how you did it, and how many you lead in the process.

3. Attempted

Never, ever tell me what you wanted to do. Tell me what you did in an emphatic tone, including a quantitative statement, Good examples: “Increased customer satisfaction by 115%” and “Exceeded quota by an average of 31.2% every quarter”

4. Team player

We like team players; we do. However, can’t we find a creative way to demonstrate that you are, indeed, a team player? For instance, you could say that you take great pride in being a mentor; that 9 of your 12 team members went on to receive promotions. Or, you can tell me that your organization held a 76.5% retention rate. Anything… but “team player”.

5. Implemented

Implemented – like “followed” and “applied”; even “executed” – is a “monkey” word. As in, “any monkey could do that job.” We don’t hire monkeys, or followers, or implementers. We hire people who think for themselves and can improve existing processes while getting the job done. The ONE exception to this rule: if “implemented” is preceded by “planned and…”.

6. Professional

Is anyone going to admit they were less-than-professional during their previous jobs? In your career, isn’t “professional” in the same obvious realm as “I breathe air”? Can’t we come up with a better word to describe how we conducted ourselves? Yes, we can. And I’d like to see a little more imagination.

7. Hopefully

Especially in today’s economy, we’re seeing way too much of this. I don’t get angry, because I understand that people are hungry for work – and are just hoping for a chance to show what they can do. I get it. Do yourself a favor, however: remove this word! There is no hope, at least from me, when you use “hopefully”.

Candidates: go take a look at your resume, cover letter and online presence. Do any of these words show up? If yes… get a little creative. Have a little fun. And then see if maybe you don’t get a few more interviews.

Recruiters: what resume words hit you like a brain freeze? Let us know, and we’ll help the job seekers out there by compiling a definitive list of words not to use during their job search.

via 7 Words I Never Want to See on Your Resume – RecruitingBlogs.

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7 Words I Never Want to See on Your Resume

If You Want to Move Fast, Don’t Define It Like a Hiring Manager Does

The other day I was thinking about how the word “fast” takes on many different definitions when you talk to various hiring managers, or in my case, various hiring managers at various companies.

When most people think of the word “fast,” I assume they are thinking about timing – quick timing, short timing, etc. In the recruiting world when a hiring manager tells you, “We need to fill this position ‘Fast’!” 99.9 percent of recruiters will feel that means if I find a good candidate, that manager will move right away to interview, offer and fill the position.

Not so “fast” my friends!

When I hear “fast” come out of a hiring manager’s mouth, I get excited! Finally! A hiring manager who wants to move – a go-getter, a doer, I’m closing this puppy by the end of the week! In my mind, I start to calculate how “fast” we can actually fill this position — it’s Monday, so I can find a candidate by Tuesday, interview on Wednesday, offer on Thursday. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that the candidate can start on Monday!

That’s like hitting for the cycle in recruiting! A one week recruiting process – now that’s “fast”!

Here’s how Webster defines “fast“:


a : firmly fixed <roots fast in the ground>

b : tightly shut <the drawers were fast>

c : adhering firmly

d : not easily freed : stuck <a ball fast in the mouth of the cannon>

e : stable <movable items were made fast to the deck>


a: firmly loyal <became fast friends>

It’s not until you get down to the third definition in Webster’s that you being hearing words like quick and rapid.

A different sense of what fast actually is

Now as a recruiter, “fast,” in terms of a hiring manager makes complete sense! Firmly fixed! Tight! Adhering firm! Not easily freed. Yes, 20 years is how long I’ve been recruiting and thinking that “fast” actually meant “quick” and “rapid” when filling positions. Now, I just feel stupid!

This whole time I thought hiring managers wanted me to fill their positions quickly. So many days of being frustrated when the hiring managers were slow to move on candidates, when I thought they were going to move “fast,”  now only to find out they were moving “fast” – hiring manager “fast” …

I’m sure no one never would define “fast” like a hiring manager.

via If You Want to Move Fast, Don’t Define It Like a Hiring Manager Does.

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If You Want to Move Fast, Don’t Define It Like a Hiring Manager Does

Thursday, September 26, 2013

New resume trends vs. resume fundamentals

Those born in the 1980s and the early 1990s are born in a highly individualistic era. And that individualistic attitude pervades throughout their lives. In fact, it is even portrayed in how theirresumes are done. Some of the most emerging resume trends portray this highly individualistic flair. In this article we will go over some of the personalized trends that have appealed to some employers in the last couple of years as well as cover some of the resume fundamentals that no resume should go without.

New emerging resume trends

Twitter resumes

If you have a huge Twitter presence and want to apply for a company that has a large presence on Twitter you should consider sending your resume and job application in 140 characters or fewer. In those 140 characters, be sure to be precise about your expertise and why a company would benefit from hiring you. Additionally, you will need to include your site’s address in those 140 characters. In using Twitter, you need to make sure that your website is fully functional and represents your talents well.


Infographics are heavily used on blogs and websites to represent trends and statistics. But some job seekers have used infographics to market themselves. If you want to use infographics, be sure to either hire a professional graphics firm to make it if you don’t have an eye for that kind of thing. If not, your infographic can just turn out to be tacky. Sending infographics in as a resume is highly creative but it best to use them to apply for highly visual/creative positions.

Video resumes

Video resumes have been around since the days of VHS, however, they are much more accessible now with the online proliferation of media and the relatively cheap price of camcorders. To do a proper video resume, you should record a one- or two-minute video introduction of yourself, filmed in high definition and uploaded toYouTube. In that video, you should be able to link to your social media profiles, your portfolio and your websites.

Using color:

Although using color is still somewhat of a stretch for traditional resumes, it can also be used to make certain elements of a resume stand out. For instance, you can use red or blue to highlight important achievements or accolades in your resume.

Multi-page resume

All of us who got out of college before 2012 have probably been told to keep our resume short and concise, being no more than one page in length. But two- and even three-page resumes are now acceptable and even encouraged for those with extensive knowledge and education.

Personal branding

In the age of blogs and social media, it is all about personal branding. This goes the same with your resume. Branding your traditional resume with a personal touch is definitely a great way to make it stand out in the pile of competitors. Just like building a personal brand on the web, your branding on your resume should portray who you are, what you have done, and what you stand for. So while using a resume template may be fine and dandy, it might be of use to you to personally brand your resume with its own unique touch and style.

Resume fundamentals

While there have been new trends in resumes and the mediums they are sent through, there are several resume fundamentals that have stood the test of time. Here are a few fundamentals that should always be included in every resume:

Work experience

All resumes should tell the potential employer about your work history. Although past performance does not guarantee future success, it is a pretty accurate indicator of how well you will do. If you lack professional work experience, you can show pieces of your portfolio. This is best done if you have your portfolio online so that employers have immediate access to it.

Education and qualification

Because of the increased competition in the workforce for the limited number of jobs, education is increasingly becoming the differentiator. If a company is faced with a choice between two equally-qualified applicants, they will (almost) always choose the one with the most (and best) education. So remember to not be shy about your educational background or any training you may have within the field.

Your achievements

No matter the medium, you must talk about your achievements. Employers care more about your prior achievements than your prior job duties. Your job duties may tell employers what you were required to do in your previous position(s), but it is your achievements that ultimately tell the potential employers what you have accomplished and ultimately what you are capable of. So do not be shy about your accolades, but do not overly embellish either.


All employers look for certain “buzzwords” in your resume. So be sure to mention them. You can decide the buzzwords to include in your resume by reading the job description and getting an idea of what they want in an ideal candidate. For instance, if you are applying for a software engineering position that is responsible for a website’s online application, it might help that you mention your expertise building a web app.


Employers love bottom-line numbers so it’s important to talk about them. It’s not good enough to mention that you saved your previous employer money as a budget analyst. You must tell them how much you saved them. These raw bottom-line numbers puts some objectivity into judging your past performance.

So as you are writing your resume, it is important to pay attention to big trends in resumes. However, it is also just as important to pay attention to the fundamentals of applying for a job. Once you have the fundamentals of a resume down, then you can start thinking about getting creative with your resume.

via New resume trends.

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New resume trends vs. resume fundamentals

How Valid Is This Test?

No business wants to spend time and money on a measurement method that does not work. This is why most businesses know to ask this basic question: “How valid is this method or test?” The challenge only begins here, though, because you then need to be able to understand and evaluate the answer. To help you, try following these seven tactics.

(Excerpted with permission from the publisher, Wiley, from Talent Intelligence: What You Need to Know to Identify and Measure Talent by Nik Kinley and Shlomo Ben-Hur. Copyright © 2013.)

Ask for Evidence. We were recently looking at the validity of a popular U.S. interviewing system that described itself as being accurate and valid. On a Web page entitled “Validity,” the vendor described a wide variety of research showing that interviews can be valid predictors of success. Yet there was not a single mention of any research that the vendor had conducted into the validity of its own system. So rule No, 1 is that you need to get specific and ask vendors for the evidence that their particular method or tool is valid. And beware of statements such as, “The test is predictive,” but do not come with any specific validity figures or evidence.

Ask What Is Meant by Validity. Validity figures are not always what they appear to be. For starters, there is no one way for vendors to measure or report validity. When you are told that a measurement method has 80 percent validity, it could mean many different things. Classically, validity refers to whether the ratings and scores that people achieve on particular measures can predict their performance in a business. And by and large, this is what you should expect to hear. Yet we have seen some vendors define validity as being whether individuals agree with the results, so when a vendor tells you that a particular measure is valid, you need to ask, “In what way?”

In response to this question, you may sometimes hear phrases such as “content validity,” “criterion validity,” and “construct validity.” For many people, though, this kind of technical jargon can be confusing and can put them off from delving more deeply into the subject. But it need not do so. All you need to remember is that you are essentially trying to find out two things: “How do you know that the method or tool measures what it is supposed to?” and, “What business outcomes do results with this method predict, and to what degree?”

It is worth noting here that “performance” can mean different things. It can mean actual results (such as sales figures), managers’ appraisal ratings of individuals, and even self-ratings of performance. Beyond task performance, it can mean contribution to team performance or organizational citizenship behavior.

Furthermore, just because a measure can predict performance in skilled and semiskilled workers does not mean that it can also predict performance in managers. There are additional questions that you need to ask when told that a measure can predict performance: “What types of performance?” and, “In what types of people?” Moreover, with measures of potential, extra questions to ask are, “How far ahead can it predict performance?” and, “After how long?”

Beware of Very High Validity Figures. When looking at the degree to which methods or tools can predict outcomes, the single best predictor of performance, intelligence, can achieve maximum validities of only 0.5 to 0.6. If you hear anything more than that, start asking questions.

Check How Many People the Tool Has Been Validated With. One essential question to ask is, “How many people?” For instance, if you are told that a measure can predict, say, absenteeism in semiskilled workers, you need to ask how many people were tested. If the answer comes back with anything fewer than 100, then the results may not be reliable. For psychometric tests, ideally you should be looking for two thousand or more people to have been tested.

If the Method or Tool Uses Norm Groups, Check the Quality and Relevance of Them. Not all methods and tools use norm groups, but some rely on them. Norm groups are comparison groups, a kind of benchmark. They enable you to compare the score of a particular individual on a certain test or measurement method with the scores of other people who have also done the test. This is particularly useful with ability tests, such as measures of intelligence and physical fitness, as it can help you understand what scores mean. For example, an individual may get a score of 25 out of 30 on an intelligence test, which sounds good. But if you then find out that the average score is 27, that score of 25 does not look so good after all. We need to know how well others usually perform to understand precisely how good a score is.

As useful as norm groups may sound, the science of developing them and where they should and should not be used are much-debated issues. If you are going to use norm groups, then they should be good ones: if they are not, they may be misleading.

So what counts as a “good” norm group? You need to look for two qualities. The first is size — the number of people in the group. Simply put, the bigger, the better. With competency ratings from individual psychological assessments, the norm group may be very small  — under 100. For psychometrics, however, it will ideally be in the thousands.

The second quality you should look for is relevance. Having a norm group of two thousand white males from Scandinavia is impressive, but if you are trying to interpret the scores of Singaporean women, it is of no use. To be effective, then, a norm group needs to be representative of the people you are assessing. This can be in terms of gender, age, ethnicity, and education level. It can also be in terms of industry, function, and type of role. The more relevant, the better. For job applicants being tested with an intelligence test, for example, the best norm group is not the scores of people already employed, but other applicants for the same type of roles.

One quick way to evaluate the quality of a norm group you are already using is to look at how many of the people you are assessing score above the average for the norm group. If the norm group is perfect, then 50 percent of your people will score above the norm average and 50 percent will score below it. If almost everyone is scoring above or below the norm average, then you know that the norm group may not be relevant enough.

Moreover, for larger organizations it may be worthwhile trying to create your own norm groups specific to your business. The absolute minimum you need for competency and individual psychological assessment ratings is around 50 people. This is low, though, and you would need to be a little cautious about comparisons. For psychometrics, the minimum is around 150 people, although once again this is low. A number you could be completely confident in would be around 2,000, so our suggestions are absolute minimums. Some vendors will try to charge you for creating a specific norm group for your business. Others do not charge. Obviously, we recom-mend the latter.

Remember Reliability. For relatively objective methods such as psychometric tests and SJTs, you do not need to ask about reliability. A test cannot be valid without also being reliable, so asking about validity is enough. However, for more subjective methods such as assessment centers and individual psychological assessment, it is important to ask about inter-rater reliability. This is the degree to which two assessors agree (or disagree) in their ratings and judgments about people. The less reliability and agreement there is between assessors, the less likely results are to be accurate.

Look for Independent Reviews. This final step is an important one: always look for independent evidence of whether measures work. An easy place to start here is to ask the vendor if any such research exists. You can also do a Web search for the name of the tool. Moreover, with psychometric tests, probably the best thing you can do is to check one of the independent, nonprofit bodies that publish test reviews. The national psychology associations or societies of many countries provide this kind of service. By far our favorite is provided by the University of Nebraska’s Buros Institute. Its reviews can contain some deeply technical information, but they also contain some clear and no-nonsense recommendations on whether to use tests.

These, of course, are just questions about validity. However, businesses need to think more broadly about the issue of whether measures work. We have discussed, for example, the need to ask about incremental validity. Yet businesses also need to think about what measures need to do over and above merely predicting performance. This could include things like helping managers engage potential new employees, identifying areas new employees may need support with, and helping plan for individuals’ development. Validity, then, is not the be-all and end-all, and the most valid test is sometimes not the one that will work best for your business. Nevertheless, it is a good place to start: a test that is not valid will not be able to do much for your business.

via How Valid Is This Test? –

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How Valid Is This Test?

Applying "The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People" To Career Development

It’s been about 20 years since I first read Stephen Covey’s book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” – and I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed it. I was with a group of friends recently and someone mentioned a topic from the book.

That piqued my interest again and I pulled his book off my bookshelf, only to find it dusty and the pages yellowed with age (I purchased it in 1990). But as I re-read the book, I was amazed at how the advice still rings true today.

Here are the 7 Habits according to Mr. Covey, with my own comments about each habit as they relate to career development:

Be Proactive: Let’s face it; sitting on your butt doing nothing will get you no where. To be successful in your career, you have to be proactive in determining what you want to achieve and then figuring out the game plan of how you’re going to get there.

• Begin with the End in Mind: If you want to eventually become a, say, Vice President of Marketing, then the first thing you need to do is find out what knowledge, skills, and experience are needed. Once you have that information you can compare it to your current knowledge, skills, and experience and determine the gaps. Once you know the gaps you can figure out how to gain the knowledge, skills, and experience you still need in order to be qualified for the position. So always begin with the end in mind and determine the steps you then need to take to get there.

Put First Things First: Every day, make a quick list of the most important things you need to accomplish at work. I like to call this my “blue chip” list because these are the items that I prioritize with the highest need. This will force you to focus on completing the most important actions first and you’ll start to realize that some things are so trivial, they can be put aside or maybe even forgotten for good.

Think Win/Win: I’ve always found it amazing that when I took the approach of thinking in terms of win/win, a better or more creative solution was usually found. As Stephen Covey states in his book, “Win/Win is a belief in the Third Alternative. It’s not your way or my way; it’s a better way, a higher way.”

Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood: This habit is especially important for managers. Before a manager responds to a situation in their department, they must first seek to understand all angles of the situation. Once that has occurred, they can determine the best possible solution – but that can take place only after they’ve taken the time to understand the situation.

Synergize: You’ve probably heard that old saying that “the sum is greater than the parts”. When I think of Mr. Covey’s “synergy” habit that saying is always the first thing that comes to mind. In business, it’s important to choose teams that are diverse and who will work well together. Different backgrounds and experiences breed different and often very creative ideas when people work together – and difference and creativity is what’s often needed in today’s competitive world.

Sharpen the Saw: I love the last habit and the example Mr. Covey uses in his book about the person who’s been trying to saw down a tree for five hours and getting no where. Another person asks why he doesn’t stop sawing and sharpen his saw and then go back to sawing. The response is that he doesn’t have time to stop and sharpen his saw because he’s too busy sawing. The same thing applies to our careers. If you want to move into higher positions or into a different position entirely, then it’s important you take the time to improve your knowledge and skills in the areas necessary.

If you haven’t already read the book or haven’t read it in a few years, I highly recommend you read it again and think about how you can apply the topics to improve your own career. The advice is right on target!

via Applying “The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People” To Career Development – Forbes.

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Applying "The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People" To Career Development

Hey, CIOs: In a BYOD world, your new job is service provider

With the proliferation of smartphones and other mobile devices, CIOs don’t have nearly as much control as they used to. But that lack of control can actually be seen as a positive, panelists said at Structure:Europe 2013 on Thursday.

“This panel is about control and the fact that we don’t have it anymore, working in IT,” said moderator Jon Collins, an analyst at Inter Orbis and GigaOM Research.

There are two types of CIOs nowadays, said Simon Short, CTO and head of digital at Capgemini: “The ones that are still fighting the battle…and a different type” who think the job is “about enablement…If you enable, then you also retain control because you’re seen as a service provider.”

According to Matthew Finnie, CTO of Interoute, ”The idea that people are going to give up the freedom they have with the smartphone — I think that battle is completely lost.” Instead of “retrenching,” though, CIOs need to “define what’s useful and what’s critical for [them] to control.” He agreed with Short: The new role of the CIO is “almost like a mini service provider.”

Finnie said that BYOD workplaces provide an opportunity for CIOs. They can “embrace” the technology and then, in turn, “try and take back the data. The CIO’s got to give a little, and then in return [gets to] control this critical piece.”

“I think this is actually the most interesting moment for a CIO,” said Short, “actually becoming the board member that’s enabling the company to do what [it wants] to do.” And, he said, CIOs should see themselves as “the digital equivalent of the CEO.”

Check out the rest of our Structure:Europe 2013 coverage here, and a video embed of the session follows below:

via Hey, CIOs: In a BYOD world, your new job is service provider — Tech News and Analysis.

Hey, CIOs: In a BYOD world, your new job is service provider

Got a Minute? If So, Spend it Looking at Resumes

I recently read an article suggesting that recruiters only spend six seconds reviewing a resume to determine whether or not a candidate was a fit to the job they were attempting to fill.

6 Seconds?!

My initial thought was, “How can a recruiter get enough information to determine whether or not a candidate is worth talking to in such a sparse amount of time?”

Upon further investigation into the original research by TheLadders, it occurs to me that the study is little more than an attempt to sell its resume writing services and show that recruiters have an easier time reading TheLadders profiles than LinkedIn profiles. It suggests that if a recruiter is only spending six seconds reviewing a candidate’s resume or online profile, then it better be professionally written. And it has a service that can do that for you.

The fact that the study happened over a 10-week period and only had 30 participants is of concern to me. This can’t be an accurate representation of professional recruiters; however, the results bring up some interesting points having to do with the six-second reviews that are definitely worth discussion.

First, let me provide an overview of the research.

Thirty recruiters participated in the study over a 10-week period. They investigated three areas:

  1. Did recruiters perceive and process professionally written resumes differently than resumes written by the job seekers?

  2. How long did recruiters take to review each resume?

  3. What process do recruiters use to scrutinize online profiles?

Recruiters gave professionally written resumes a 60% higher “readability” score than candidate written resumes. Professionally written resumes scored higher from an organizational and visual standpoint. Recruiters were distracted from pertinent candidate information by ads and pictures on online profiles. The researchers used “gaze tracking” technology and determined that recruiters spent nearly 80% of their time reviewing the following items:

  • Name

  • Current title/company

  • Previous title/company

  • Previous position start/end dates

  • Current position start/end dates

  • Education

After looking at these six items, “recruiters did little more than scan for keywords to match the open position…” Consequently, the rest of the resume copy had little to no impact on a recruiter’s decision to move forward or not. This was where the six-second review came in.

Additionally, the research indicated that Ladders profiles were 55% easier to read than LinkedIn profiles due to the higher levels of visual complexity on LinkedIn profiles, and 19% of time was spent looking at LinkedIn profile pictures.

The net of the research was to use professional resume writers and omit distracting visuals. In summary, use the format that TheLadders uses.

There is certainly validity to having a quality resume, and in the spirit of full disclosure I employ a resume writer for the work I do with my private clients. I don’t have the skills to write a quality resume for them so I employ a professional. That said, she writes each resume based on what the client and I decide is best and will be most effective.

Who Were These 30 Recruiters?

After reading the results I wondered who these recruiters were, whether they do retained or contingent work, whether they are corporate or third party, and what types and levels of candidates they were screening. When I was recruiting full time, the only time I spent a mere six seconds on a resume was when it was total crap, and that was few and far between.

There’s a Bee in my Bonnet

Since the six-second thing had clearly put a bee in my bonnet, I decided to do a study of my own to see what results I would get. I asked three questions that would take about five minutes in order to encourage the greatest number of responses. Here are the questions I asked:

  1. How much time do you spend reviewing each resume? Is there a period of time in which you initially look at it and then read on or not? What are you looking for when reviewing a resume (keywords, past companies, education, etc.)? Please be as specific as possible in your response.

  2. Are you a third-party recruiter, or corporate recruiter? If you are a third party, please note if you do primarily retained or contingent work.

  3. How many years have you been a recruiter? Please only include time you were directly recruiting, not managing recruiters.

In hindsight, the one question I neglected to ask was the types and levels of candidates each respondent recruits. It would have provided further insight into the question of review time. I know a good number of the respondents and will provide my assertions to this missing question.

I kept the survey open for one week and had more respondents than TheLadders survey did.

In House or Agency

Of the total number of respondents:

Corporate Recruiter — 59%

Third Party Recruiter — 41%

Of the third-parties, 90% do primarily contingent work. The other 10% do primarily retained work, which included RPOs.

I must admit that I was hoping for more responses from the retained folks I sent this to, as I think it would have provided more comprehensive results.

Nearly 41% of respondents have greater than 15 years’ experience, and 70% have greater than 10 years’ experience recruiting.

The table at right compares the percentage of respondents in each “years of experience” category:

And below that table, is a look at the time spent in resume review (click to enlarge any of these).

Quick Decisions on Fit

There were some commonalities for both corporate and third-party recruiters. The more recruiting experience a recruiter had, the more time they tended to spend in the initial review. The only exception to this were corporate recruiters with 3-5 years experience; they spend less time in review than corporate recruiters with <3 years experience. There were exceptions on each end of the spectrum for both types of recruiters that skewed the data a bit, but I did not exclude it. For example, in all but one experience category for corporate recruiters, there was one respondent who reviewed resumes for less than 10 seconds.

The most interesting finding was that corporate recruiters consistently spend less time in resume review. Given this information, I will assert that corporate recruiters, by and large, have a much greater number of open requisitions they work on concurrently than third parties; consequently, they don’t take as much time reviewing resumes because they don’t have the time. It’s also likely that they are trained to look for certain skills for their companies. This theory also holds true with third-parties. I know some of the respondents spending the smallest amount of time in resume review and they are reviewing lower level candidates. They can determine “fit” in a small amount of time. Those who generally spend more time in review are looking for more complex qualities, skills, and abilities, which take a bit more time.

3-Second Scan

My assertions were confirmed by the feedback I received. Here are some examples:

“I wish I had more time to go over each resume but I can get 100s in a day sometimes.”

“ … very specific requirements and if they have not been this type of admin before, they are disqualified.”

“I am recruiting for 15 top priority openings, so I have to be as speedy as possible…”

“If it has the right buzzwords in the first summary paragraph I can say in three seconds I’ll decide to continue reading.”

“In six seconds I’m able to scan for companies, position, education, and keywords.”

“I look for education, keywords and past companies.”

“When I am reviewing a resume I am scanning for keywords, education, minimum requirements, preferred requirements, and dates of service.”

“I look for key experience and education upon first review of resumes.”

“I review current position and if it is a match of skills, I continue looking at past work history to see how many changes they have made in their career.”

“I look for relevant buzzwords, relevant companies to my current searches and most of all — very specific accomplishments.”

“I pay no attention to long lists of keywords or functional paragraphs at the top of the resume that are not in context of company.”

“I look at companies listed, are they known, Tier 1, etc. I typically pass on a resume with no tier 1 experience.”

“Keywords are CRITICAL.”

It is clear from these responses that the common denominators are keywords, education, companies, and skills. These comments confirm what TheLadders’ study indicates: 80% of time is spent on these items. These qualities are important, but I have to wonder if this isn’t limiting/excluding quality candidates who may not have the “right” words on their resumes. What if a candidate has worked for a company that is a great match but the recruiter reading it isn’t familiar with the company? Will it get discarded because it doesn’t have the “right” companies on it?

Ultimately, this is a far more complex subject (there’s just not time or space here) and it loops back to the processes that companies have in place to attract, recruit, and retain talent. Too many companies merely look to duplicate skills and abilities of their successful employees without looking at the common denominators of all their people, which includes cultural fit. There is no clear alignment between talent strategy and business strategy. Clear alignment and a talent process that supports it opens a window into what companies truly need to be looking for. If you are committed to making a difference at your company and with your clients, take the time to talk to your decision-makers and offer to help them do this. It will increase revenue for you and them in the long run. 

Got a Minute?

Given my results, I now feel more skeptical of the research done by The Ladders as well as its validity; however, in case there are great numbers of recruiters out there spending an average of six seconds to determine candidate fit, I’d like to request that you commit to more time. There may be candidates who could be perfect for you who haven’t gotten a resume professionally prepared. Make an attempt to read between the lines. Candidates are far more than just a resume. Think of how you’d want to be viewed. Take an extra minute or two.

via Got a Minute? If So, Spend it Looking at Resumes –

Got a Minute? If So, Spend it Looking at Resumes

Analytics Transformed Recruiting

It seems hard to believe today, but when I started working in the recruiting industry in the late 1990s, people were still faxing resumes to companies for jobs that they found in newspapers. Those faxes were then scanned by hand into the recruiting software of the time, and reviewed individually by administrative staff for optical character recognition errors. Only then, about three days later, could a recruiter review the resume online.

The process was pretty revolutionary for the time, but still slow and fraught with errors. This was before the explosion of online job boards, which increased the volume of resumes that companies were getting exponentially. At that point, employers’ focus shifted from getting enough candidates to dealing with resume overload.

Since then, sourcing specialists have replaced HR generalists, online profiles have replaced paper resumes, and candidates are often the ones deluged by emails from recruiters who found them on a social network. While teams are handling a much higher volume of resumes, a shroud of mystery still hovers over the best way to market job openings and attract the best candidates. Enter the latest way to get a leg up on your recruiting competition (coined in 1997 as the “War for Talent” by McKinsey): sourcing analytics.

Analyzing Recruiting Spend

Today, corporate recruiting staffs have to deal with the problem of finding enough talent to fill their open positions and deluge of (often unqualified) resumes. The challenge is that companies are spending millions of dollars on advertising jobs and trying to attract good candidates, with no way to determine which methods are effective. Recruiters themselves call this the “post-and-pray” methodology.

Job boards are often reporting only on candidate traffic, leaving organizations to come up with their own way to measure whether they are actually getting hires from that traffic. The only way to capture solid analytics is to be very diligent about pulling candidates from every single source back through the corporate career site or talent community so that all the data is in one place. This is a relatively new idea, and a lot of companies are not there yet. But, for the companies that are, it’s like being a kid in a candy store.

This type of data is fairly standard for marketing departments, but very new for recruiters. With sourcing analytics, when a company runs a specific job marketing campaign, they can immediately se that it generated 200 applications, 30 interviews, 10 offers, and eight hires. Having this data is incredibly valuable and allows the companies to be very nimble with their recruiting strategy and their recruiting marketing dollars.

The Future of Recruiting

There are some industry experts who believe that LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social sites will eliminate job boards because they offer lower costs and higher performance. However, a closer look at the data inside of some of the companies using sourcing analytics shows that the story is more complex than that. Some of the smaller job boards are producing very good results for some hard-to-fill positions. Meanwhile, social networks are increasing their prices (and adding features) to capture more of this job marketing revenue, but vary widely in their ability to deliver top candidates for key jobs.

As candidates continue to apply and companies continue to recruit, more companies will realize that having good sourcing analytics is not just a competitive differentiator, but a necessity for finding, attracting, and engaging the best talent.

via Analytics Transformed Recruiting –

Analytics Transformed Recruiting

Monday, September 23, 2013

What’s Wrong With Using Resumes For Hiring? Pretty Much Everything

If you’re getting low quality hires, it’s time to realize that the blind and uneducated use of resumes may be a main contributing factor (note that earlier this year I completed a similar analysis on interviews, the second major contributor to low quality hires). Resumes are the currency of recruiting. Job sites, recruiters, and hiring managers all require them and use them to screen both prospects and candidates in or out.

Because at least early on, resumes are the sole determinant as to whether a candidate moves forward or not in the hiring process, it’s important to understand their strengths and weaknesses. Many authors, (including myself and recruiting thought leader Kevin Wheeler) have been forecasting the demise of the resume for years. But despite their many faults, resumes have remained an essential part of the candidate assessment process. The premise of this article is that if you are going to continue to rely so heavily on resumes, everyone involved needs to be aware of each and every one of the many weaknesses and problems associated with using them.

The Top 30 Problems Related to Using Resumes for Hiring

The flaws, the weaknesses, and problems associated with resumes are many. I have listed the top 30 problems, divided into five distinct categories.

The top five factors that most negatively impact the quality of hire

Of all of the flaws, these five have the highest impact on new-hire quality.

  1. Resumes are at best, self-reported descriptions of historical events – the very definition of a resume highlights its fundamental weakness. Rather than providing information that you really need to hire someone (examples of a candidate’s actual work or a description of what they could do in your job), resumes are merely self-reported narrative descriptions of the candidates’ past work. The bias and selective memory of the candidate frequently results in a less-than-accurate description of what actually occurred. Obviously because resumes are essentially job histories, they don’t tell you anything about the person’s character, how they would act in your job, and their potential.

  2. Resumes frequently contain untruths and half-truths – the next-most-serious problem with resumes is that if you rely on them, you are likely making decisions based on falsehoods. Everyone that has researched them agrees, in fact, that as many as 80% of resumes contain misleading statements. And on average, 53% contain actual lies (The biggest offenders are college students, where 92% of them admit to lying on their resume). Even CEOs lie on their resumes (e.g. at Yahoo). And because references are not usually checked until the end of the hiring process, many candidates will likely move forward based on this false information. Those who are 100% honest may actually be penalized (or even screened out) because recruiters and hiring managers often “discount” what they find on resumes by as much as 30%, to take into account the expected “half-truth” percentage. Individuals in science, the law, or finance would simply laugh at any process that consciously makes decisions based on reports that are known to be so exaggerated.

  3. Negative information is omitted — in addition to inaccuracies, resumes have many omissions. The most significant omission is that resumes almost universally contain no negative or non-positive information. Even though everyone has made errors and bad decisions in almost every job, they will certainly not be prominently found in any resume. If someone has been convicted, flunked out of school, had a bad performance appraisal, gotten fired, or failed on a project, it will almost never be found in the resume. Even though this information may be found out later, many early-stage recruiting decisions will have already been made based on this incomplete information.

  4. Resumes do not cover the future or your firm – resumes are 100% historical, so at their very best they only cover what you have done in the past at other firms. However, those making the hiring decision need to project into the future. They need to know how you will act in this job and at this company when you are faced with this firm’s current and future problems. But unfortunately, resumes don’t include forecasts or projections on how you would act differently in this job and working environment.

  5. Requiring an updated resume will restrict applications – most companies absolutely require an updated resume in order to apply for a position or become an employee referral. But most employed individuals (the so-called passives) do not have an updated resume readily available. So, requiring one in order be considered for a position will eliminate many top potential candidates who simply can’t find the time in their busy schedule to update their resume. To further compound the problem, some individuals feel that updating their resume is an act of disloyalty, so they won’t take that action until they have made the final determination to leave (meaning they won’t apply for your job until they have updated their resume). And even those who have decided to leave may be leery that providing a resume may put their current job unnecessarily at risk if their boss were to find out (note: an alternative approach is to let the recruiter use a LinkedIn profile).

Content-related resume problems

What you include or don’t include in your resume will dramatically impact your score.

  1. Resumes contain no statement of accuracy – resumes are not an official document. In fact, resumes are not signed and they contain no statement from the candidate attesting to their accuracy and completeness.

  2. The information is not verified by the firm where they worked – as an employee leaves a firm, their manager or HR department will not likely ever see their resume, no less approve the content that is provided by the exiting employee. This means that an employee can say almost whatever they want without fear of contradiction. And because it’s common practice to limit job references to dates of employment, the flawed reference process will, in many cases, make it impossible to verify the actual content for a particular job. And unlike job application forms, resumes do not even contain a statement authorizing a firm to check an individual’s references.

  3. Applicants are not told what information to include – even if an applicant wanted to include all of the needed information, unlike an application form, hiring firms do not provide direction to them as to what information they need included in a resume in order to make a hiring decision. As a result, resumes are written 100% from the candidate’s perspective and candidates are forced to guess what information to include and exclude for each job.

  4. Resumes do not include information on all of the key assessment criteria – candidates are generally assessed on four criteria: 1) are they qualified? 2) are they available? 3) are they interested? and 4) do they fit? Because most resumes are really simply job histories, they thus only address the first criterion … are they qualified? But resumes do not contain information relative to the candidate’s current interest in this job, their relative availability for a new job, or their fit. To make matters worse, resumes generally do not cover other important differentiating criteria, including the candidate’s expectations, goals, motivators, energy, or innovativeness. Although this information might be in the cover letter, many recruiters never bother to read them. If you ask candidates a simple question — Does your resume accurately reflect what you are capable of doing? – the answer is almost always no.

  5. Many candidates are unaware of the powerful impact of keywords – some applicants have become key word experts. As a result, their resumes score higher when assessed by the ATS system, even though their skills and experience are identical to other applicants. If the applicant doesn’t fully understand the importance of using keywords in their resume and as result they take a casual approach toward including them, their resume will automatically be ranked lower. The key word problem can be further compounded if the individual applying comes from another industry, where completely different words are used (even though their words might mean the same thing, the ATS or the recruiter might miss them). Individuals who submit shorter resumes because of bad career advice may also suffer a keyword deficit.

  6. The candidate’s job results may be impossible to verify — many candidates fail to include the results and quantify their accomplishments, making the quality of their work difficult to assess. Others include results and numbers that may be exaggerated. Unfortunately, in most cases it is simply impossible for the resume reader to verify the accuracy of these numbers. To further compound the problem, with so many firms merging and going out of business, verification of any resume facts may not be possible because the firm no longer exists.

  7. The candidate’s contribution may also be exaggerated – from the writer’s perspective, a resume is essentially a “brag sheet,” so in addition to including business results, resume writers routinely try to expand their role or contribution to the results of a project or task. Even though the individual may have been part of the team, it’s impossible using the resume alone to accurately ascertain the actual role that this individual played in the task or accomplishment.

  8. Illegal and inappropriate information may be included – not every applicant is an HR expert, so some will inadvertently include illegal or inappropriate information (i.e. their picture, their age, hobbies, personal information, etc.). Using this information will cause legal difficulties but expunging it may be difficult and time-consuming.

Non-job related factors may impact the quality of the submitted resume

Regardless of your actual capabilities, there are many additional factors that will affect the assessment of your resume.

  1. Writing skills impact their content and their assessment score — even though a particular job may not require much or any writing, the writing skills of the applicant will dramatically affect the content and the impact of their resume. Even if you were a top performer, you likely won’t get full credit for it unless your writing skills are powerful.

  2. Help, resources, and repetition impacts their content — individuals who spend a great deal of time learning the elements of a great resume through coaching, books, or the Internet may become “resume experts.” As a result, they are much more likely to produce a resume that gets “high scores.” In addition, the resume of someone who has been rejected numerous times may eventually become significantly more polished than the resume of an individual with superior job skills, but rustyresume skills. In the case of resumes, practice does make perfect.

  3. Most candidates only have a single resume – because writing resumes is time consuming, most applicants only have a single resume to present. Unfortunately, the information provided in the standard “one-size-fits-all” resume may not match the specific information that is needed for an individual job. Individuals with the time to tailor their resume and keywords to a job and a company will often score higher than others with the same job skills.

  4. Employed individuals may be at a disadvantage — currently employed individuals are forced to limit the details that they provide in the resume about their current job (because of trade secrets and in case their current boss sees their resume). It’s also harder for them to polish the resume because they can’t freely post it or send it to many firms to get feedback.

  5. International applicants may be at a disadvantage – international applicants are more likely to include illegal or inappropriate information that may cause them to be rejected. There are also more likely to use unique or different keywords that might confuse recruiters or the ATS system. Language difficulties may result in bad grammar or misspellings, which is often the No. 1 cause of immediate resume rejection.

Format-related resume problems

The format used by the candidate may by itself cause difficulties.

  1. Accomplishments and skills may be omitted in some formats – many resume writers view resumes as merely summaries of their previous job responsibilities. As a result, they exclusively include only the duties and responsibilities from their job descriptions. However, this format will cause them to omit information on key assessment factors like skills, tools, and accomplishments (according to Careerbuilder, 30% of recruiters will reject a resume that doesn’t include a list of skills).

  2. There may be a bias against the functional resume format — in many organizations, there is a bias toward the chronological resume and against the functional format. Because under the functional format it’s often more difficult to find job experience at a particular company and work dates, some recruiters and hiring managers may give up prematurely when they can’t immediately find the information that they require. Others may make the assumption that functional resumes are used to “hide” job gaps and negative work experience, so they may also quickly reject candidates that use this format.

  3. The CV format may hurt some candidates – individuals who follow a CV format (curriculum vitae or curriculum life) may overly focus on their education, rather than the broader range of factors that will be assessed. As a result, using the format may mean a lower score for their resume.

  4. Paper resumes cause problems — at most corporations, individuals who submit paper resumes by mail or at career fairs cause problems because they must be scanned into the system. This adds costs and time to the recruiting process and the scanning process may result in scanning errors or the misreading of keywords. 

Problems with the typical resume assessment process

In addition to the resume itself, the resume screening process also has many serious flaws in most organizations.

  1. Resumes cannot be thoroughly read in six seconds – the average time that a recruiter spends reading a resume is a mere six seconds. Given the limited time spent on them, many key content elements will simply be missed. And to make matters worse, individual recruiters are not measured or ranked on the accuracy of their resume screening. Many firms use ATS software to analyze and rank resumes, so if the system is not programmed correctly and with the right keywords, a large number of errors can occur.

  2. There is no scoring sheet or documentation – because there is normally no standardized process for reviewing resumes across a corporation, individual recruiters and hiring managers may assess resumes in any manner they like. Even though reading and assessing a person based on their resume is a “test” in the legal sense, resume readers are seldom required to assess them based on a weighted job requirement scoring sheet, which would provide a higher level of consistency. Without a consistent process, a resume for the same job may be rejected one day but accepted the next! And in most cases, no documentation is retained as to why the individual was screened out or moved on in the process.

  3. Inappropriate knockout factors can be used — resume assessment is often done in private and without formal resume assessment training. As a result, it’s possible for individual recruiters or hiring managers to use non-job-related or even illegal factors to “knock out” the resumes of qualified individuals (i.e. estimated age, or sex, or race, the school that they attended, their zip code, etc.).

  4. The information is not in a standardized order for easy comparison – unlike application forms, the information provided in one resume will not be in the same order or format as the other resumes. This makes easy side-by-side comparisons of resumes for the same position extremely difficult.

  5. Multiple languages may make assessment difficult – if you’re conducting global hiring, you will receive resumes that are written in many different languages. Unless you specify a particular language, it will be extremely difficult to compare resumes written in different languages, even if you use a computer scanning or translation system.

  6. No feedback hurts your brand image – no firm that I have encountered provides candid feedback if they are rejected at the resume stage. This lack of feedback frustrates candidates and makes it difficult for them to improve. This lack of feedback degrades the candidate experience and your firm’s employer brand image.

  7. No resume screening metrics – no organization that I have been able to find uses formal metrics to assess the efficiency, validity, and reliability of their resume assessment process. And literally no one in HR checks to see if those with the highest-rated resumes (or interview scores) turn out to be the top performers on the job. Obviously it is also expensive to maintain a resume data base that meets legal requirements.

  8. No formal training – only a small number of firms actually take the time to train or educate all recruiters and hiring managers on how to accurately assess a candidate’s resume. This lack of training may have a major impact on the quality hires.

Possible alternatives to resumes

You might be curious about alternative or supplemental approaches that some firms use. These alternatives include:

  • An application form – formal application forms that everyone must fill out are superior because they specify the needed information. And because the information is in the same order and format, applications can be easily compared side-by-side.

  • A LinkedIn profile — LinkedIn profiles are available for most professionals and they do provide enough information for early assessment. Using this profile means that the individual doesn’t have to find the time to update their resume and because LinkedIn profiles can be viewed by so many, it’s also much more difficult to include inaccurate information in them.

  • A portfolio – a portfolio is either an electronic or a paper compilation of samples of the individual’s actual work. They are superior because “actual work samples” are almost always a better assessment device than the short “narrative description” of the work that appears in a resume.

  • Find their actual work on the Internet – in many cases it is possible to find and assess a candidate’s actual work on social media sites, on YouTube, or on the Internet.

  • Give them an actual work problem — asking them to solve a real-world work problem that they will encounter on the job (either in person or remotely) is perhaps the best assessment tool.

  • Contests – use online contests to identify and assess prospects by having them work on a real problem (example: IGN banned the submission of resumes and instead used it’s Code-Foo Challenge to assess and hire).

  • Technical tests – one underutilized tool that is beginning to see more use in organizations is technical skills or knowledge testing.

  • Interest and skills questionnaire – a candidate’s self-assessment of their own skills and interests can tell you if they are a good fit for your job and company.

Final Thoughts

In my experience, the often reported demise of the resume is once again premature because their use is simply too deeply entrenched. However, the way that most hiring professionals currently use resumes does deserve criticism and a reassessment. To start out, if your organization don’t have a formal process for avoiding the numerous resume weaknesses outlined above, at the very least an audit should be undertaken of your resume assessment process (for example — one large firm put the disguised resumes of their top five engineers through their own ATS screening process and two of the five were screened out).

Another step to take is to educate your recruiters and hiring managers so they know and fully understand each of their potential problems listed here. And finally, you should consider supplementing the use of resumes and interviews by giving top applicants actual work problems to solve. This is because actual solutions tailored to your environment are almost always superior predictors of on-the-job success to written or verbal narrative descriptions of the past.

via What’s Wrong With Using Resumes For Hiring? Pretty Much Everything –

What’s Wrong With Using Resumes For Hiring? Pretty Much Everything