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The worst job hunting advice ever

In the February 20, 2018 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, an HR pro warns unsuspecting readers to avoid getting hurt by bad advice on Ask The Headhunter.

Question

adviceI’ve been in Human Resources 12 years and I have to say your article Resume Blasphemy is probably the worst advice I have ever heard anyone give to a job seeker. The best evidence of future performance is past achievement. I need to know where you worked, where you went to school and what you have accomplished. If that is not on the resume, I don’t read it.

I highly recommend you remove that article before you hurt any more unsuspecting job seekers.

Nick’s Reply

I’m hurting job hunters, when you’re the one tossing their resumes, unread, in the trash?

I help unsuspecting job hunters avoid getting hurt by teaching them how to get past personnel jockeys like you altogether.

The best HR people I’ve known don’t rely on resumes any more than I do. But they’re few.

A job hunter is lucky to encounter an HR person who knows how to read between the lines, both literally and figuratively. The best HR folks manage to avoid blinders when recruiting. They don’t approach candidates (or resumes) with preconceived notions. Like I said, these HR people are few, but they know who they are.

You’re entitled to your opinion, and I’m glad you’ve shared it. I’m publishing it because job hunters need to see firsthand how some HR representatives deal with resumes. (I stand by the Blasphemous Resume.) You make two statements that prove just how dangerous it can be to blindly send resumes to HR departments.

HR Advice: “The best evidence of future performance is past achievement.”

I’m always astonished at how horribly recruiters are hobbled by such claptrap. Here we have an employer who can ask job applicants for any information he wants. So, what does he ask for? A lame, one-size-fits-all recitation of “past achievements.”

First, what constitutes an achievement is subjective. I’ve met job candidates with achievement awards up the yin-yang from companies where showing up in clean clothes every day earns them a regular promotion and a raise. I’ve also met candidates whose resumes are nothing more than lists of tedious job functions, but who underneath all that are outstanding workers.

Second, a clever resume-writing service can apply “action verbs” to turn the most mundane worker into a seeming powerhouse of a job candidate.

Finally, I’ve known people whose resumes showed they were good performers again and again in their past. Unfortunately, they could not translate their abilities to handle the next job.

It took me only three months to land my dream job. It was advertised absolutely everywhere, so I’m sure they received a boatload of qualified candidates.

In thinking back as to how I grabbed this job, I’m 100% positive it was because I followed your Ask The Headhunter advice and did the job in the interview. That simple maneuver set me apart from all the others vying for the job.

Thank you, Nick. Being a member of this community has literally changed my life.

— Elizabeth Weintraub

But, can you do this job?

The outcomes in all these scenarios are problematic. Good candidates are lost and lousy ones are hired because the best evidence of future performance is not past achievements. (I’d go further and argue that past performance is not sufficiently predictive of future performance, no matter where it is described.)

When an employer can ask for any information he wants, he should ask for a demonstration of a candidate’s ability to do the work at hand. That means the candidate should show, right there in the interview, that she can do the work profitably, or learn to do it in short order. (I offer reader Elizabeth Weintraub’s quote as just one example.)

But it’s impossible for a job candidate to do the job in the interview with an HR representative, because no one in HR is expert in the specific work of any department of a company (other than HR). A job hunter wastes her time when she gets caught in the “HR filter” before she establishes with the hiring manager that there are good reasons to meet and talk.

HR Advice: “If that is not on the resume, I don’t read it.”

“I need to know where you worked, where you went to school and what you have accomplished. If that is not on the resume, I don’t read it.”

This statement is a good tip-off to job hunters: HR doesn’t read all resumes.

Any resume that’s missing what titillates the keyword algorithm gets nixed. And, who’s to say what might or might not stimulate your (that is, a personnel jockey’s) rejection reaction? Pity the poor slob who went to a school that pummeled your alma mater’s football team. Who wants to take that chance?

It’s also important for job hunters to remember that an HR representative is not the hiring manager. I’ve never met a hiring manager who would reject a candidate who provided a detailed plan of how she would do the job profitably. However, many are the managers who’ve said to me, “Just because she did a job at another company doesn’t mean she can do this job here. Our needs are unique.” (Mind you, I’m not arguing that history is irrelevant; only that it’s not the best way to introduce yourself to an employer, and that it’s not an adequate basis for screening candidates. See Tell HR you don’t talk to the hand.)

The rejection question

It seems you refuse to read resumes that you don’t immediately understand, in spite of the fact that you can’t possibly be an expert in all the disciplines that are important to your company. The smart job hunter will thus wonder, What’s on my resume that might get me rejected? and conclude that it might be anything.

The better risk for a job hunter is to deal directly with the hiring manager, who is likely more interested in the value of the candidate than in words on a resume or in the HR department’s (or some algorithm’s) binary judgement. (See HR Technology: Terrorizing the candidates.)

I advise job hunters to skip, avoid, have nothing to do with the HR department until they have talked with the hiring manager.

Resumes: Too much noise?

There is not a single good reason for a filter at the HR level when a company is hiring. A good manager (these are few and far between, too) recruits, interviews and hires on his own. HR’s job is to provide support, not to decide which applicants the manager gets to see.

(The manager who argues that HR is needed to filter the thousands of incoming resumes should consider that he might be better off not relying on ads that generate tons of resumes that need sorting to begin with.)

noiseMy suggestion to most businesses is that they can relieve their HR departments of recruiting, candidate selection and hiring functions without any significant loss. The HR function is Human Resources, not Human Recruiting. (See How HR optimizes rejection of millions of job applicants.) Recruiting is best left to people who have skin in the game: managers and headhunters who specialize in specialized talent markets. (Yah, I know, maybe we should exclude headhunters, too. That’s another debate.)

Blasphemous advice

Your warning confirms that my advice is indeed blasphemous. (Whew. Thanks.)

I contend that resumes include too much noise. Too many good candidates are lost because HR clerks rely on words in resumes to filter them out. Too many inappropriate candidates wind up getting interviewed just because they have the right buzzwords on their resumes. And it’s all just so much noise that hides the signals that truly matter.

I suggest you read Resume Blasphemy again, more carefully. Perhaps your resume-sorting habits have made you so accustomed to blocking things out that you missed something that matters. The point of the article is explicitly stated:

“In fact, once you have produced a Working Resume, you will likely have done the kind of research and made the kinds of contacts that will probably make a resume entirely unnecessary — you will already be ‘in the door’. (That’s the point.)”

No need to rag on HR, but let’s discuss the two assumptions this personnel jockey made. (1) Is past achievement really the best evidence of future performance? (2) What information on your resume does HR really need in order to judge you?

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111 Comments
  1. I’m not sure anyone truly appreciates past performance on my resume because I assume they merely look at tenure at each company, which as a contractor, can be two years or three months in some cases. Ironically, many of the available jobs in pharma are contracts, so it’s virtually an endless cycle. Although I’ve honed my resume to identify key skills and competencies at each employer, and reasons for leaving, I don’t think an HR person appreciates these.

    It’s been a tough road littered with company buyouts and the subsequent layoffs, poor management decisions in hiring too many contractors for project needs, FDA halting studies for protocol revision, and on and on. If I could fully explain these situations in an interview, I might not be seen as such a “job-hopper” (I hate that term) which is probably what HR perceives. Only a hiring manager should review my resume because HR has proven to be clueless when it comes to a background like mine.

  2. Job seekers must write there resume to fit the expectations of the people reading them. If someone were to take Nick’s advice then they would rarely get past the initial screening. Yes, the good managers and HR people would not chuck resumes that do not fit the mold, but those people are few.

    But Nick’s “Resume Blasphemy” advice is good, show the employer that you can do the job and will be an asset to them. That will make you stand out and be desirable.

    But there is an easy solution to confirm to the mold and take Nick’s advice. Use the cover letter to make the “Resume Blasphemy” points. From everything I have read, that seems to be the proper place. Resumes tell the story of your past, cover letters tell the story of your potential future.

    • I agree with this approach (mostly). I like resumes to give me a very black-and-white history of what a person has accomplished and in what contexts, but in almost all the positions I’ve worked in the hiring process before, the cover letter was where I was really looking for evidence that the candidate understand our mission, and understands how their role contributes to it. Networking with hiring managers is good, but there is so much bias in our networking (created simply by the fact that people tend to like other people who are similar to themselves) that I would caution any hiring manager against allowing any candidate, no matter how promising, to circumvent the process that they themselves built to help screen candidates.

      Like all things in hiring, _all_ of this advice (mine, yours, Nick’s) works better in a context where hiring managers are thoughtful and deliberate in their hiring, which unfortunately isn’t the case most of the time. :(

    • The Blasphemous Resume addresses a few problems:

      1. Humans rarely read a resume on the first cut — algorithms do.
      2. Even if a human reads it on the first cut, the human is not qualified to judge the work you do.
      3. By introducing yourself with a resume, you introduce enormous risk — a resume can’t really introduce you, defend you, or provide the best reasons why you’re a good candidate. It’s just a recitation to the wall.
      4. Managers interview and hire mainly via trusted personal referrals.

      The point of Resume Blasphemy is that personal, personalized contact with the hiring manager is the best way to go.

      Leading blindly with a resume is largely a losing proposition, and it should be. In the old days, when the number of resumes received for a job was limited by the fact that it was a physical piece of paper that required an envelope and a stamp, volume was self-limiting. Now there is no limit. Your resume competes with literally every resume on the planet. That’s no way to do anything.

      I think the only time a regular resume should be used is AFTER substantive contact has been made with the hiring manager — then the resume is useful to fill in the blanks about you, AFTER the manager has identified the real reasons to consider you seriously.

      And at that point, I agree that it should be vanilla — very, very simple.

      • ** 1. Humans rarely read a resume on the first cut — algorithms do. **

        To this point, Nick would be correct.

        It also extends beyond the HR to the world of medicine, business fields, etc. I would bring up an obscure point from the resume to gauge the interviewer’s knowledge – it is easy to spot a reader from a non-reader.

        Example: A doctor for a well-known insurance company stated, in an affidavit, that he never reads the medical files for review of insurance claims in a Western Coastal state. It happens in the medical field often when medical providers do not bother to read the medical information on patients in the EMR system. This is always the scary part when they make the wrong diagnosis.

    • @MollyG,

      I can certainly appreciate your perspective. My initial reaction was “well of course you have to write for your audience.”

      However, part of the point is…If you’re writing your resume for HR because they are your audience, then you’re trying to reach the wrong audience.

      Write the resume (to the extent that you use one at all) for the hiring manager…then get it in the hiring manager’s hands, bypassing HR. HR isn’t your audience, so don’t write it for them. Better yet, make the connection with the hiring manager in a way that makes the resume incidental, if not superfluous.

  3. Past performance isn’t the only evidence of future performance, but it is obviously relevant. I am a petroleum geologist, working for a small Norwegian oil company. Recently, I took part in a hiring process. Being a small company without resources to do much training, we requested that applicants had at least ten years of industry experience, mostly from the Norwegian sector, so that they knew the overall geology and the regulatory framework up front.

    We put out ads on the largest Norwegian classified site (Finn.no), on a couple of geology websites and in a Facebook group for Norwegian geologists. We skipped paying StinkedIn for an ad, but I put the ad on my open profile.

    Result: 170 applications for one position (and many StinkedIn “friend” requests from people I had never heard about). Nearly two-thirds were from people from far, far away and/or very little experience, who only gave our secretary more paperwork.

    We (read: the boss) called seven people for interviews. First, the usual talk about their life stories, accomplishments, forwards plans etc. One fell out because her work experience was slightly off – but didn’t we already know that from the resume?

    After the first round, the boss said that he would have liked to hire all the remaining six, so how to choose? We called for a second interview, and gave them an exam; some well, seismic, pressure data and maps, and asked them to prepare and present a short appraisal of an oil discovery.

    This was very revealing: Some fell out because they turned out to not be that skilled, despite the nice resume. Some made amateur errors. One gave a very good technical performance, but came across as a world champion, who bragged too much about himself. Self-confidence is good, narcissism not so much.

    Unfortunately, the preferred candidate took another job, so we had to go for a second round. These were even more experienced people. I was on vacation the week they interviewed, but according to the boss (himself an experienced geologist), even people with thirty plus years on their resume fell through when asked to show how to do the job.

    As a side bar: I once worked for another small oil company, which almost went bust, after burning through $200 million, because the management, all with long industry experience, were incompetent on basic geoscience, commercial issues and both.

    Lessons learned:

    1. Past performance – more precisely; past experience – may be a prerequisite, but is far from a good enough indicator. Let people show that they can do the job.

    2. Skip StinkedIn, even if it is only posting on own profile. It only drowns your secretary in useless applications.

    3. Instead, use Facebook groups, personal contacts etc to attract people. Most of the people we interviewed were previous acquaintances of some of us.

    4. Ordinary ads may work, provided that they give the applicant sufficient information about the position and states clearly that they should not waste their time unless they pass the requirements – which in turn must be relevant and reasonable.

    5. HR has only limited uses. No HR person would be qualified to evaluate our “exam”. HR may be useful as a helping hand in the interview itself, by probing into motivations, and trying to uncover “the real candidate”, like with the (probable) narcissist. Our CFO also has some HR background and did that well, in addition to discussing commercial issues.

    • “Most of the people we interviewed were previous acquaintances of some of us.”

      :-)

  4. You could tell where this was going from the first line (“I’ve been in Human Resources 12 years”). 12 years of what exactly? I was at my last job for 27 years. I worked with people with longer and shorter tenures, which did not indicate that they knew how to do the job.

  5. I’ll answer Nick’s questions in reverse:

    “2) What information on your resume does HR really need in order to judge you?”

    I’d argue that the only real necessary information is stuff that is non-negotiable, base-line, “get through the door” information. Does this position require specialized education and/or licensing (say, a doctor or a lawyer or licensed professional engineer)? Ok, yeah, it’s important to see that on the resume. Is this an experienced position where someone should have at least x years at a mid level or higher? Ok, yeah, some type of information showing that would be good for a first-pass screen. Other than that, what’s the point? (And at mid level or higher positions, you’re not going to be finding those people by just chumming for resumes on job boards….if you’re doing it right.)

    “(1) Is past achievement really the best evidence of future performance?”

    Maybe…..*if* you’re familiar with the environment the person worked in. Let’s say you worked in an industry and were intimately familiar with all the suppliers/customers/etc. You look at a resume from someone else in that industry and see what they did. You could reasonably determine if he or she was good. “Oh, I see Nancy here worked her way up at Compumegacompany. I know that only real performers get promoted there”….or “Yeah, I can tell you that all those titles she got were meaningless because Compumegacompany is an inbred company more interested in office politics than making a good product.”

    Even then, it’s no guarantee. Maybe Nancy thrives in Compumegacompany’s environment but your company’s culture is so vastly different that she’d do poorly….

    • @Chris: That’s a nice rundown on the two questions. I think the point is that a resume is not and cannot be sufficient to make a decision about someone.

      So, why do companies start and end at the resume with most job applicants? The signal-to-noise ratio is small — and resumes are an enormous amount of noise.

  6. I could never understand how any company lets HR be the frontline on resume selection. Besides flagging ones that are laced with profanity or stained with suspicious fluids, I don’t see the value on the front end. As a parallel or final function, it sounds good that they can inform the candidate about the company environment and benefits, perform background verifications and other hygiene functions. The final say on who is a valid candidate and who gets hired should ONLY be the provenance of the hiring manger acting on the respectful advice of the support functions such as HR. The hiring manager should know what is needed for the position and if that person can do it.

    The other problem with the HR front end is the nonsense job description that goes on for many a paragraph. Simple things like “SA with MSCA SQL Server and MSCA Server 2012. Experience with HA installations over nodes.” Is probably enough.

    • I love some of the job descriptions. HR whines that the resumes are not clear, concise and easy for THEM to figure out.

      But we see job descriptions so full of acronyms that I wonder who wrote them. The other day I read one that asked for Windows experience and Vista was listed. Vista?

      Another screening tool is those darn certifications. From cooking fries to HR itself almost any job function seems to have some cert that is now mandatory to have. Do you want a person who can memorize or someone who has done the job for years? Don’t be afraid of people over 40. We were there.

      • When I attended college, there was no degree in “Human Resources”. I was hired with a history degree to work for an insurance company which understood that liberal arts majors needed to think, evaluate, and write in order to graduate. The company and subsequent employers trained us on specific industry knowledge, something that few companies do today. My training and interests led me to professional competence in a two areas which are part of HR. Late in my career, I became certified in HR because it had became a base requirement for most jobs under the broad category of HR; the exam focused on knowledge that I had pretty much already gained with over thirty years experience.

        Before the certification, I took a job in with a defense contractor and had a chance for a promotion. Due to gov’t contracting regs, the only way to apply for any job with them is on-line. The job requirements were an HR degree or one in a related field but the on-line screening questionaire only asked if I had an HR degree. I answered “no” because being untruthful is a mortal sin in that context. When it was noted by the recruiters that I did not make the cut, I pointed out that, at the time my degree was granted, there was no such thing as an HR major, implying that this rquirement discriminated against older applicants. Right away my history degree was determined to be related enough to HR. The same thing happened several years later when the company restructured and I needed to apply for another job. Never mind the industry certification and years of experience! It mattered more what I studdien in college nearly forty years previously.

        • @Katie: I love it! You got “certified” in a specific industry before getting certified in HR! Will somebody please explain this track to all companies??

          Thanks for posting this!

  7. I *too* have been in HR for many years; certified and degreed on top of that! The HR reader who wrote in this week hopefully means well, but is ignorant and obviously full of themselves. This is what I call the stereotypical “HR Angry” (HR people who immediately assume the negative, who act Holier Than Thou, and play G-d because they feel empowered over employee’s livelihood).

    In my opinion, a resume is like an ad in a magazine. An ad provides a broad introduction to the who, what, where, when, and/or why of a person/place/thing. In no way could such a ‘nice to meet you’ handshake convey all that is desired as if it was a crystal ball. Never trust a salesman’s brochure; it’s generic, scripted, and bloated to make a sale.

    In the end, ain’t nothing out there that beats a good ‘ole conversation. I suggest the HR reader educate themselves on the quality-based means of disseminating information.

    I hate it when my career peers act in haste and jump on negative perceptions. THIS AIN’T HIGH SCHOOL.

    • I did not pay K-Ster to write that. But what K-Ster wrote is worth a lotta money.

      • Thank you! I was once probably just like the reader in question in this week’s post, but since following you for many years I have learned how NOT to be ‘HR’ (even though I am still in HR). One day I’ll be the “few” you mention!

        • @K-Ster: Oh, I think you’ve been one of the few a long, long time and with no need for help from me. Thanks for being part of this community. How do we get more of you? Please invite them if you know more!

  8. The top performing sales manager, for every fiscal quarter over 8 years, at a company I worked for in the past, had no sales experience on her resume when I hired her.

    Her past performance would have indicated she had no skills at her job.

    She spent the interview convincing me of how her life skills would make her successful at her job.

    I was told not to hire her by Corporate. “No girls” (That was literally what I was told)

    Results are summarized on first line above.

  9. Karsten’s post is an example of how companies don’t want to train new employees any longer. They want people who can do the job without training on the first day. Now I realize some fields are very specialized and need certain education. The no training element is why so many people aren’t hired and jobs go unfulfilled. This eliminates a lot of potentially good employees. I remember my first jobs being trained exactly how to do the work for the first week. Now it seems to be sink or swim.

    • Kathy, our field – petroleum exploration in Norway – is “very specialized and need certain education” – or, more precisely, experience. If I went to the Gulf of Mexico to do petroleum exploration there, it would take a long time before I was up to speed – I know the general nuts and bolts of exploration, but all areas have their own characteristics, which takes years to learn.

      That said, I do think we could have hired a couple of the candidates, without doing too much wrong; however, for other reasons, the CEO decided to postpone the hiring for a while.

    • They want you to come in and perform the job like you went back in time, worked the exact job for 5 years and came to the present to apply for the job you already had.

    • @Kathy: “how companies don’t want to train new employees any longer”

      And here’s the evidence from Wharton’s Peter Cappelli. It’s the dirty little secret of employers:

      What employers really want? Workers they don’t have to train
      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/on-leadership/wp/2014/09/05/what-employers-really-want-workers-they-dont-have-to-train/

      • That article echoes my experience, lack of training and hiring outside of the company. At my last job, current employees were allowed to apply for other positions only if their supervisor agreed to let them go. Most supervisors, including mine, said no so people were stuck. This edict came from the CEO. They also hired outside for open positions 90% of the time. They hired mini-me types who had to have lower level employees train them. One department had two employees apply for the managers open position, both knew the department and were excellent employees. Outside person who then failed at the job was hired. She was in the CEO’s yoga class, contacts got her the job over qualified current employees who would have done a better job. Both employees no longer work there. The manager got moved to another position because they didn’t want to fire their buddy.

        And the story of interviewing all those people who couldn’t do the job at the interview and then choosing to not hire anyone or fill the new position only gives my point credence. Seems a set up that no one was going to be good enough, especially if no one was even hired. But we blame job seekers. Employees just aren’t seen as a valuable tool.

  10. And this is why there is a growing frustration with employers – attitudes like this…

  11. “Are you experienced?” —Jimi Hendrix

    “You are not your resume, you are your work.” —Seth Godin

  12. I have hired countless business and engineering professionals. I think the resume is extremely important. Resumes help the hiring manager screen candidates much better than telephone conversations and who has time to talk to 50 candidates on the phone anyway? After I narrow the field down to maybe 5 candidates I take time to talk with them directly.

    I don’t like pushy candidates who think they can talk their way into a job. I prefer a fully-vetted educational and job history in a resume. I have hired people who made great claims that I later learned were not exactly true. These same people tend to be dishonest on the job.

    I appreciate that job applicants can be frustrated dealing with HR which often seems to erect superficial barriers. But, good HR people who really understand the business and the requirements for specific jobs can be very helpful to hiring managers in screening and vetting candidates. The problem is that many HR people don’t have enough background to screen/vet effectively so they resort to superficials. This does not help anyone. The solution is better training for HR.

    • To help narrow the list down, I recommend not posting cattle-call adverts. Why sift through 50+ resumes? Quality networks deliver the results you desire (but they take more effort than posting a job ad online). It’s in the businesses interest to be proactive when investing in human capital; we can’t rely on job seekers to be present and waiting when we click “post”.

      • This is what people don’t understand… If you’re complaining about getting a “large” number of applications to sift through, isn’t the problem the solicitation of that many applications, rather than coming up with “arbitrary” screening criteria?

        Then of course, it’s the “applicants” fault that they didn’t write their resume/cover letter the right way or they don’t have the right “training” or “experience” because they can’t read your mind.

        It’s boils down only wanting to use a hammer and treating everything as a nail.

      • I very much agree that building quality networks is a better way to hire, overall, than job posts. BUT I have to temper that with the idea that the hiring manager must constantly be improving and expanding their networks, and they must seek to do so with people that aren’t easy to reach. Otherwise, there’s simply too much bias in how we self-select the people we spend our time with. Hiring managers need to build relationships with people that its harder for them to build relationships with, and must actively seek out networks of people who are very different than themselves, or you’ll end up with a really homogenous set of employees who all come from more or less the same backgrounds who have more or less the same ideas.

        • Amen!

          “We find comfort among those who agree with us – growth among those who don’t.”
          – Frank A. Clark

      • Our job posts were on our company site, never on a job board, and we still got tons of resumes, mostly totally irrelevant to the post. We were looking for a specific and not very common skill – a resume like Nick suggests would not be very useful in screening.
        Zero cost searching and zero cost posting are going to increase the volume of applicants no matter where you post a job.

    • “I have hired people who made great claims that I later learned were not exactly true. ”

      An educational pedigree and work experience will not change this. You need to be hiring through referrals from the hiring manager.

    • I’ve been following Nicks blog as well as Ask A Manager for a number of years and this is the biggest difference in advice between the two. Nick espouses a very pro-active targeted method of researching companies, getting to a hiring manager, and demonstrating how one would do the job to win the job. AAM is written very much from the HR point of view: Apply and pray. Anything to break away from that cattle call mould is met with skepticism and jeers overall.

      Tying back into Armand’s comment, there are “candidiates” who are long on charm or gimmicks, but come up short when delivering the goods. Unfortunately, the poseurs and pretenders can use Nicks methods to scam their way in the door of a hiring manager, justifying the use of HR as gatekeeper. Managers have better things to do than play shepherd to any rando that figures out how to get at them and come knocking.

      In short, if you’re going to be using Nick’s renegade methods, you’d better be a stellar candidate for jumping ahead of the HR cattle call.

      • @Cochrane: “In short, if you’re going to be using Nick’s renegade methods, you’d better be a stellar candidate for jumping ahead of the HR cattle call.”

        Why would you apply for any job if you’re NOT a stellar candidate?

        That’s what’s gotten lost in the overflowing-dumpster model of job hunting and hiring: Applying only after you’ve done the hard work to be sure you’re a stellar candidate.

        The rest is a silly crapshoot. Job seekers and employers have no right to complain if they’re going dumpster diving.

  13. Classic HR arrogance. Too many HR ‘professionals’ have become a barrier to the company hiring good talent and they should be removed. HR should only worry about the legal aspects of hiring/firing EEOC/ADA etc. Wouldn’t it be nice if the hiring manager was the person who requested through a system that HR cannot touch – candidates? Hiring Manager does the interviewing and hiring. They tell HR whom to hire period end of story.
    I have had too many phone and in-person interviews with HR and found they were CLUELESS as to what the job even entails. Worse, I have had contacts in the company, was passed over and sure enough, the person hired knew someone in HR.
    To compete in the Global Economy we need to eviscerate HR’s power and return to Hiring Managers HIRING.

  14. I am amazed every time I hear the complaint that companies cannot find qualified candidates.

    Companies do not know how to recognize qualified candidates.
    Another note: After 10 years in the workplace, your education is not the most critical asset. Of course in some areas, science and medicine, it is critical. But when you get to things like sales and administrative work, the class you took 10 years ago and your GPA from high school should never be a deciding factor.

    When it comes to the problem in company hiring, the problem is conventional HR thinking. There are plenty of qualified candidates.

    • @Joanne: This is true. I’ve long since moved my education to the bottom of my résumé because what should be most important are my experience and skills. But if HR is the guard dog, then not putting your education in the right place (I was chided by an HR person a couple of years ago for not putting my education at the top of my résumé–that was why I was eliminated) or if you lack a degree means you can’t check a box, and that is what matters most to them.

      And yes, in some fields, such as medicine, law, pharmacy, nursing, teaching, then your education is important, but even so, 10 plus years out, your current licensure/certifications should be more important (especially since in some of these fields, you can’t sit for the bar exam/USMLE/NCLEX, etc.) UNLESS you have a law degree/medical degree/nursing degree).

      Algorithms don’t think, but they make HR look busy and give an excuse not to hire anyone because the perfect candidate (as in the one who was young enough, male, with the right degree and matched all 402 key words) didn’t fall out of the sky.

      • If you are really qualified for a job, no one is going to criticize your resume format. If your qualifications are average for the pool of candidates, someone will use any excuse to get you disqualified. In other words, if they like you, they overlook a lot of sins.

        In my current job, it took a one hour interview for the decision to be made. The other interviews (HR, upper management, etc) were just for information gathering.

        With an offer I didn’t get, I had 3 interviews 3 weeks in a row, on site, and never heard from them again.

        Another trick? You get asked questions – and they keep asking and adding pressure until you can’t answer the question, then they say, “AHA! You are not qualified! You liar!” They make the interview really heard if they don’t like the candidate.

        • @Kevin: I agree with you. This HR rep. was very young, had her degree in HR, and nothing else. When I asked her why it mattered that my education be first, she said it was because “that is where my professor told me it is supposed to be”. I guess when you’re 21 and have no other experience, then you just don’t know any better. And, I think you’re right–if they’re looking for reasons, any reason, to eliminate you (maybe the in-house guy already has the job locked up but they’re still running an ad and taking applications just to make it look real), then not following standard “rules” is enough to get you disqualified. It’s a nutty world.

        • In my office, they were looking for a new manager. When the old one left, a job listing was posted and the standard application packet (resume & cover letter) was solicited. One of my co-workers that has been with us for around 4 months in a bottom-tier position decided that he wanted to try for the position without much hope he would actually get it. After interviewing a handful of other candidates it was his turn. He was called maybe an hour after the hour-long interview and offered the job. So much for everyone else and their fancy resumes.

          I don’t think he even applied for the first position he filled. I think he was invited to join based on how he presented himself at our weekly networking groups. (for context: I work at a state-sponsored employment resource center that educates people to help them find work)

    • Ever see this in a job description or on an employment test?

      Able to ride fast learning curve without falling off.

      Or a resume, cover letter or e-mail to a hiring manager that includes the above statement +

      And ready to prove it when we meet.

      I contend there is no job for which this is not a sufficient qualifier to get hired.

  15. One frustration that I have is that it is much easier to get ahead in one’s career by taking new jobs rather than doing different things for the same company for a long time. Having that sense of history and solid experience is priceless. Typically I will be working for a company for awhile when opportunities start popping up – I am currently being pursued by a company that would likely mean a big step up both in pay and responsibility. The problem is, I like my job right now.

    So in response the this article I thought about the different ways I have found jobs – you will see reference to newspaper classified ads – that was one way to find a job when I graduated from college in 1989. The list for my job search is as follows:

    Job Fair (first job out of college with move)
    Company transfer
    Classified Ad
    Classified Ad
    Professional Journal Ad
    Golfing buddy of a friend
    Placement firm (a very good headhunter)
    Internet ad
    Internet ad (Contract work)
    Contract work at job where placed with placement firm previously.
    Internet Ad
    Placement firm (same one as before)
    Former girlfriend (with wife’s approval and huge raise)
    Corporate Application Tracking System (current job)
    LinkedIn search (possible new job)

    – a note about that last one: It is a good company that cares that I have a good experience as a candidate. My potential manager is very direct.

    My whole point is that some of these jobs have been absolutely great, and some were bad – it did not matter how I found the job. If this looks like a lot of employers, remember that I am 52.

    • 6 out of 15 were ads. “Survey says” between 60-70% of jobs are found/filled through personal contacts – so you’re at about 60%. Take into account that classified ads produced far better back in the day than job postings do now, and it all makes sense. (Ads used to cost a lot, so employers didn’t advertise thoughtlessly. And ads expired. Today job postings are forever, and thus more and more useless.) Thanks for the list!

  16. Atta boy, Nick !

    When the shoe is on the other foot, I bet that HR person will reluctantly re-read your “Resume Blasphemy”, once they get fired or laid off and find that no employers want to – or are – reading their resume.

    Keep up the good work, Nick —
    you are a credit to the industry.

    • I love an atta boy. Thanks! :-)

      But the evidence for what I claim comes from the community here.

  17. Before HR judges resumes, first and foremost they must know the position. “Clerks” is exactly the right word to describe this group, of late. No expertise will render all applicants as rejects unless they are judging other clerk level positions. The last times I had successful placements by headhunters was when these individuals had actual past professional experience in my profession. Seat of the pants clerks are a dime a dozen!

    • And this is where I give big kudos to those few HR folks and headhunters who actually know a lot about the field and biz they recruit in. On the HR side, they’re usually deeply embedded in the teams they recruit for. There’s no other way to do it. I’ve had clients where I almost lived at their offices, had free-roaming in their hallways, and the chance to learn all I wanted to know about the work they did. There’s no other way to do it right.

      So, why do employers have any other kinds of HR or headhunters??

  18. When I was tossed out of my job in 2009, it had been 20 years since my last work search.

    When I began to survey the new employment environment, I was stunned at the reports of 30 to 40 percent of applicants lying on their resumes. Even though my picture is in the dictionary next to the word naive, I had survived 35 years in front line management as a hiring manager. It was just incomprehensible-or as my friend in The Princess Bride mentioned–“inconceivable!”

    At that time, the number given was between 30-40% of applicants lying on their resumes.

    In 2014, the numbers ran 46-58%.

    In 2015, 50-75%.

    In 2017, 75-85%.

    I’m neither the sharpest tool in the box, nor very good at math, but I think I detect a trend here.

    These numbers were from Career Builder, Monster, and Fortune Magazine.

  19. I’m a hiring manager. I used to be a practice manager and hiring manager in high tech (Oracle, Accenture, etc) for programmers, tech archs, project managers business analysts, information architects, etc. Now I am a Nurse Practitioner (NP) and also active in recruiting healthcare providers like NPs and PAs.

    I disagree with your answer. When reviewing applicant resumes, whether or not they have been screened by HR (a lot of times I had all resumes sent directly to me), I expect a resume to have basic information such as the applicants job history and what they did for each employer, as well as their education. If I didn’t see this in some form, I would indeed toss the resume out because that indicates to me: 1) They don’t know how to write a resume, which I would expect from someone applying for a high-paid job; 2) They can’t be bothered to prepare a decent resume; and 3) They are trying to hide something. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for an applicant to provide basic information. How else can I know if they have the basic qualifications? If they have been unemployed for a period, that’s ok, too – I’ve certainly been there myself. Most unemployed people don’t twiddle their thumbs, and do constructive things like training, school, etc. And I’m perfectly ok if someone had to take care of family members or were ill themselves for awhile.

    For education, I need to see education and credentials appropriate for the job. I will consider high school graduates for professional jobs if they have the commensurate experience, especially for technical roles like programming.

    A good cover letter is also appreciated and can provide additional relevant information.

    Recruiting and hiring is extremely time-consuming for hiring managers. We have to do this in addition to our regular jobs. Personally, I’m not interested in trying to solve a resume mystery. If I’m hiring a salesperson, I need to know their track record and what product and/or service they sold. It’s quite easy to provide information on a resume such as: “achieved 90% quota year one, 100% quota year two, 120% quota year three” along with the size of the quota. If the sales applicant doesn’t provide this, then I assume they have a poor track record.

    If I’m hiring a technical person, I need to know what technologies they have worked with and be able to gauge their experience level.

    In addition, some professions have legal requirements for practice. If I’m hiring a general counsel, they better tell me what law school they went to. If I’m hiring a nurse, nurse practitioner, or PA, then I better see what school they went to and their certification and licensure information. In addition, I need to be able to judge their skill set, and this is also for legal reasons, not to mention people’s lives are literally on the line.

    Here’s how I screen resumes when I am the hiring manager:
    1. Quick scan through all resumes. 90% are crap, so I toss those aside. That would include resumes that don’t give me basic information in a straight forward manner.

    2. Of the 10% that are decent, and my bar for this is decent, not spectaculr, I then go back and read those very carefully, making notes and highlighting information of interest or concern. Based on this, I will discard more resumes.

    3. I will then personally call and email every person that passed my personal screen and schedule a phone interview. I am more than willing to conduct interviews in the evenings and on weekends to accommodate candidate work schedules. Some people never respond, so they are off the radar. If the nonresponder looks really good, I will make a second attempt to contact them and that’s it.

    4. I have the phone interview and I make additional notes and so forth, based on that.

    5. I then review the candidates and my notes and impressions and then decide who to bring in for a face to face interview. I have to be selective because there are usually several candidates worth interviewing in person. From my perspective, I will spend at least one hour on each interview and then I have to make notes and spend time afterwards ranking them and deciding who the make the offer to. Usually, candidates must be interviewed by multiple employees, so then there is time required afterwards for discussion, which also takes time. There may also be a final “bake off” between the top 3 candidates and that can take a few hours. My interviews do include appropriate skills testing, like little programming exercises, or case studies.

    I have to do all of the above in addition to my regular job duties. That is why I can’t afford to waste time with weird resumes.

    • I studied nursing at one time and didn’t make it – it was an accelerated program for people doing nursing as a second career. I later found out that my clinical instructor had not done clinical work in a long time (from another nurse who knew of her) – go figure! Suffice it to say that with my degrees in engineering and music – both hard degrees – nursing is the toughest field I have ever studied. I believe your profession does not get the credit it deserves.

      I am back in electrical engineering full time and loving it. I wish nursing would have worked out – and I think I would have been good (which is why I was selected for the program I was in). It really takes a big heart. My main problem is I wear my heart on my sleeve. I would have tried again but I ran out of money.

      • Thank you for your kind comments. Nursing school is tough, that’s for sure! Kudos to you for giving nursing school and try. It’s good to hear that your are happy with your current career. Electrical engineers are important, too. :) Healthcare couldn’t function without them. Best wishes.

      • I have to say that if you love electrical engineering, then you are doing well and should not look back at nursing as a “what if” situation. I worked as an RN (with a BSN) in the hospital 20-some years ago and it was not anything like was taught in school. Too much backstabbing, poor training, and performance expectations were the same for the new grad as the seasoned nurse. Salaries are not commensurate for the responsibilities, and management usually is contemptuous of staff.

        IMO, nursing is one of the most demanding but highly misunderstood professions out there. There’s always a nursing shortage but in reality, there are a lot of nurses who’ve sought other careers because we refuse to put up with the crap anymore. Just my $.02 –

    • I wanted to make some additional comments:

      1) I definitely used my personal networks and professional networks, but that doesn’t always produce a viable candidate. Even for those candidates, they must have a decent resume, because other people are going to look that resume who don’t know the candidate. Referrals also have to cut it in the interview process, too, and they don’t always do well.

      2) Even if I get a good referral candidate, I want to look at other options, too.

      3) In some industries, like high tech, job hopping is just a fact of life. I understand that as a hiring manager. However, if someone only spend 2 months at 10 jobs, then they have an issue.

      4) Lack of experience – many employers are willing to train new grads, career changers, etc. I did, but I needed some indication that they were worth investing in.

      5) Here is my pet peeve about job seekers: all to many job seekers are not willing to put in the effort to get a new job, including moving if necessary. Or they make all kinds of demands, like they don’t want to travel, they don’t want to come in to the office, and on and on and on. I’ve seen too many job seekers who only want to work within a 5 mile radius of their house and are unwilling to relocate and then who whine and whine about being unemployed. I guess I need to get this off my chest. There is a desperate need for primary care nurse practitioners in many parts of this country – inner cities, smaller towns, and rural areas. Employers in these locations are more than happy to hire and train new grads and will actually pay them MORE than in the expensive big cities. They will also provide incredible benefits like student loan repayment, relo expenses, sign on bonuses, retention bonuses, etc. Yet I hear new grads complain, “I don’t want to move. I don’t want to live in a small town. I don’t want to live in any city except X Y and Z. That city isn’t big enough (about a city of 1 million people!) Blah blah blah.” Then they whine that they can’t find a job.

      When I graduated from nurse practitioner school, I was in my mid 50s and fat – if I listened to all the negativity I should not have gotten any offers. Yet, within 2 months of starting serious job search, I had NINE (9) job offers. I also drove over 1,000 miles per week for seven consecutive weeks to go to job interviews all over the Western U.S. I didn’t get travel expenses for most of that, either. Employers in such horrible places as Hawaii, Lake Tahoe, New Mexico, coastal Oregon, and so forth, could not get any job applicants except me. I ended up accepting an offer in a very small, gorgeous, mountain town that is super cheap, making more money than I could in a big, expensive city, along with a good training program and incredible benefits. The nearest large town of 100,000+ is only a 45 to 50 minute drive away. Yet, when I tell people who ask me that this clinic is looking for more NPs and how to conduct a proper job search, mostly what I hear is whining and excuses and all sorts of conditions on what job they are willing to accept even after prolonged unemployment!

      Personally, I’d be willing to move to Antarctica if I got good training, experience, and a chance to have my student debt paid off by my employer or the government.

      Thank you for letting me vent!

      • While I agree that age discrimination is alive and well, there are a number of people who think they are discrimination victims (and maybe they are), but there is another thing: Did you stop learning? Are you searching too narrowly? Let’s just say at one point I was unemployed for awhile and I applied to the local grocery store when I got both an engineering and a music job offer. I am not above sweeping floors nor shelving groceries. It may not pay well, but it does lend a sense of purpose.

        • Good points on age discrimination.

          After the tech bubble burst in 2001, a lot of people, myself included, were unemployed for a long time. We all took whatever work we could and the smart employers had no issue with that – it shows a person is willing to work hard. The smart hiring managers really respect someone who took a crappy job in order to put food on the table.

          • Many employers are hyper focused on gaps or other reason to throw your resume in the trash.
            Even though I have been employed continuously since my gap in employment years ago people still bring it up. Every once in a while I will get a call and someone will say something such as, “Hey, you have a great background and have done some wonderful things – could you explain this gap in your experience?” Usually I explain and then don’t hear from them again. I explain that I was looking for a job, interviewing, working contacts, and taking classes to keep up my skills. My current employer loves me.

            Employers are absurdly over concerned with gaps in people’s work history.

            • OMG, me too! And they act as if they never heard of even one facility closing, let alone by the dozen.

            • While I’d not wish it on anyone, those that review resumes and interview people could benefit from the real world experience of being job hunters themselves, via real world reasons like layoffs, acquisitions, close downs. When you have, you can read & understand a resume much better and talk with people accordingly.

        • When I was unemployed and receiving benefits, I spent many hours each day and week looking fo new employment. I cast my net pretty wide. I did not look for a lower-level job as an interim measure for a number of reasons. I am no longer physically able to lift, bend or stay on my feet for long periods so many jobs are no-go. My state would reduce or discontinue unemployment benefits if I accepted employment . Working such a job would leave me much less time for searching and make it difficult to take phone screenings or interviews. Unemployment benefits paid my mortgage and I drained my savings for health insurance. I got my sense of purpose from volunteering my records management skills for my church’s outreach to the poor.

          • Unemployment benefits run out at a certain point. If a person’s unemployment benefits have run out, a little money is better than no money.

          • Why is it that companies just love to lay people off? Don’t they know what suffering they bring to people with their lack of compassion? There must be a better way! I’m tired of job insecurity.

            PS: I am also painfully aware that even with the stellar performance review I had yesterday that cuts could come any time. Why else would I assent toninterviewing with a company that has shown strong interest in me?

            • Companies are amoral. The only thing they care about is profit.

      • “…all to many job seekers are not willing to put in the effort to get a new job…”

        You don’t know a damned thing about me or what lengths I’ve gone through for the sake of landing a job…

        • Believe me, I am all too well aware of how hard job searches are. I could keep you entertained for hours with stories about bad behavior of potential employers. I have had more than one potential employer bring me to an out-of-town interview and after I went home I never heard from them again. In one case the interview really didn’t go well.

          Employers will behave badly as long as we put up with it. I know – you need a job quickly for financial reasons. We all do when a job ends unexpectedly. That does not mean you have to put up with bad behavior. You might have to sweep floors or stock groceries for awhile, and while that will probably not cover your expenses, it does get you out there and give you some dignity.

          My wife is a librarian and she just found a job after we moved across country 6 years ago (she reluctantly left a position she loved where she had been for 16 years, but my new job was of a greater income than we were making combined in the depressed midwest). It took a long time – and in truth, librarian positions have always been hard to find (my wife is more efficient than google searches than I am, and she puts me to shame with what she can do finding information, and I’m pretty good myself). So I asked her, “What other fields use your skills? How could we make this work if you have a long commute?” Her new job is an hour away, so we will be buying a second car soon.

          The bottom line is you may have to move and/or change fields. Starting a business is an option but easier said than done. Even so, note that the entrepreneurship rate is higher for immigrants to the USA than for those of us who grew up here. While I am not a nationalist, it does make me proud that people come to our country and start businesses because entrepreneurship is good for the economy. Businesses hire people, provide necessary goods and services, and buy supplies.

          Keep turning over rocks, looking at options. “But I have looked at all the options!” you say. I’VE BEEN THERE. This is when you also turn to other people for help. Yes, you are going to have to get some help with your job search or with founding a business. Whatever you do, it means getting out and meeting people.

          I am probably not the person to be writing about this anyway. I just had the best performance review of my life yesterday at work, and I have another company that started pursuing me over “Stinkedin” – that particular company wants to bring me to their headquarters, and I will go, of course, and trust me, it is a very, very good company that cares about a good candidate experience (I won’t say who they are, so you just have to trust me).

          One more thing: I have a master’s degree in music. I have a student loan. The loan is still around, but I no longer work as a professional musician. I made the decision 15 years ago to go back into engineering. I did music part-time for several years (I was a church organist/choirmaster), but two recessions and change in musical tastes (the pipe organ is a dead instrument) have changed this entirely. Sure, it was tough changing back to engineering – and it took several years to get used to the idea, but I had a young family at the time and my main concern was bringing in a better income when my full-time job went part-time and a new one in the music field was hard to find.

          Remember, it’s not “Can I do this?” but “How can I do this?” Also, my boss has a picture in his office of the Golden Gate Bridge under construction – they did that in the days before electronic computers. If they can build the golden gate bridge without electronic computers, then we can find jobs or found businesses. (I didn’t say it was easy.)

        • I wasn’t addressing you personally and I never claimed to know you and your job search methods. I said “all too many job seekers,” not all job seekers.

        • You’re right – I do not know you or your job search efforts. But I was not writing to you personally. In addition, my comments were not addressed to all job seekers.

      • @Ann: Thanks for your thoughtful posts about this topic. I don’t agree with you, but you do explain how you hire and how it works for you. Two comments on specific things you said:

        1. “Recruiting and hiring is extremely time-consuming for hiring managers.”

        I agree, but it’s the most important job and skill of any manager. A manager who isn’t spending 20%-30% of their time every week recruiting and/or hiring isn’t a good manager.

        2. “Companies are amoral. The only thing they care about is profit.”

        That’s an old canard that companies use to discount bad behavior. Every company has a choice because it is run by people. The choices companies make reflect who runs them, and reveals whether they’re worth doing business with.

        • @Nick: Thank you for the response.

          1. Your expectations of hiring managers are unreasonable. As a business executive, I was already working 50-60 hours on my actual job. So telling me I need to do another 10 to 20 hours on top of that just for recruiting is ridiculous. I was not a headhunter and I did not get paid for recruiting. In addition, I didn’t always have job openings. My goal was high retention of employees!

          2. I am tried of the HR bashing. There are excellent HR professionals out there and I have had the pleasure of working with them. In addition, HR does a lot more than recruiting. For example, Johns Hopkins Hospital, one of the best hospitals in the world, has RNs working full time in the HR department to recruit RNs.

          3. Companies are indeed amoral, as I do not believe that corporations are “people,” and I should correct myself: their #1 priority is increasing shareholder value, and increasing profits does that. Yes, there are companies that do have a code of ethics and do their best to live up to that. Even then, layoffs are sometimes necessary, and as an executive, I can assure you that I did everything in my power to avoid them and they were heart-wrenching for me. There are also very cut throat companies that don’t give a darn. Silicon Valley is full of those. Job seekers would be well advised to learn about potential employers’ cultures.

          4. As a health care provider, my #1 priority is patients. I recruit when I need more practitioners, or a replacement, and only then. While an individual clinic can grow, they aren’t going to hire 50 providers a year.

          5. Your approach isn’t going to work in all professions. Healthcare is one of the largest sectors in the US, with lots of job opportunities. First, I am busy all day long seeing patients. I barely have time to go the bathroom and eat my lunch in on the run. The only way I can evaluate a job candidate is through an interview and having them “shadow” me so I can evaluate their skills. There is no other way. I’m not going to just let some random person, even if they were referred, walk in and shadow me. And I would really get annoyed by someone contacting me out of the blue and not following my hiring process. Finally, documentation is critical to healthcare and many other professional jobs, too. As far as I’m concerned, if a person can’t be bothered to write a decent resume, I wouldn’t trust them to be able to write adequate documentation.

          6. Let’s say someone I trust does refer a candidate to me and suggests I talk to them. I would certainly do that, but of course the referee would have to impress me. And I still want their resume!!!

          7. A concise resume is also useful because it provides a list of employers. That tells me a lot for an experienced candidate. In my previous career, seeing employers like Accenture, IBM, Oracle, or reputable boutique firms, assured me this person had had good training and good experience. In addition, I could often check them out through my professional network, because I knew a lot of people throughout the industry.

          8. Since I’ve been a job seeker myself, I understand why the job search process is frustrating, believe me. I really think some of your suggestions are very risky approaches, but it appears they do work for some people. Given decent economic conditions, I’ve never had trouble finding a job using a more conventional approach.

          Best wishes and I do read your blog. Good discussions.

          • @Ann: I think for inquiring about a job one has to use their best judgment. I would never contact someone unless I had been properly introduced. For example, one job I had was from the golfing buddy of a friend of mine from church. On the other hand, if I see an article by Jane Doe who is an engineering manager at Acme Electronics, I might see if my network could eventually extend to her – perhaps I have a question about the subject matter at hand. If she were welcoming of further contact, then I could proceed accordingly. If I don’t know anyone at Acme, then I might try applying through their normal system – assuming the process does not take too long.

            In fact, that is how I got my current job: I applied using the online application. For some fields I said, “See resume.” I got hired. After accepting the offer, THEN I filled out forms for a background check. It worked, and it is a good job.

            • @Kevin: I agree with you. I am happy to respond to anyone who is properly introduced, even if I don’t have an opening (in that case, I’d still try to help). In addition, as I discussed in one of my previous responses above, if you belong to an online community and another member says they are hiring, then it is ok to contact them directly. In business, senior level professionals are typically not expected to fill out an application until later in the process. Healthcare is different, but they have to deal with a lot of legal requirements.

            • @Ann: Had nursing worked out, I would have likely been hired by the hospital where we had our clinicals. I would have expected to go through their normal hiring system. A friend of ours who was a nurse at a well known hospital told me she thought I would have been a great neuro ICU nurse, and indeed, I found neurology most interesting (if at times heartbreaking).

              A subject for another day is the ability to train people to go in to the nursing profession. In truth, the field has very high expectations, and pay is not commensurate with responsibility.

              What amazed me is that even as a nursing student, before giving a medication to a patient, I had to have full knowledge about their condition and the entire list of drugs they were prescribed. So again, I think the men and women of the nursing profession rock!

          • @Ann: “3. Companies are indeed amoral, as I do not believe that corporations are “people,””

            I find that wholly amusing. Look at how much companies spend on their images as “socially responsible,” “great places to work,” “great cultures,” “places where people are #1.”

            You can’t have it both ways. Yet while out of one side of its mouth HR proclaims the above, out of the other side it excuses hypocritical treatment of workers when it needs to fire them — and job applicants when it needs to hire them.

            “I recruit when I need more practitioners, or a replacement, and only then.”

            No VP of Sales would hire or tolerate a sales rep who sells only when they need more sales. A healthy pipeline of good candidates is just as crucial to the success of any manager as a pipeline of sales prospects is to the company.

            The irony is that companies permit managers to ignore recruiting “because HR handles that,” while HR complains it faces a talent shortage.

            I don’t know a single company that can afford any of its employees saying “Sales is not my job” or any manager saying “Recruiting is not my job.”

            • @Nick,
              Respectfully, I think you are quite naive when it comes to what hiring managers, who have a job that is not involved in hiring, actually do and how they are compensated.

              1. It is incredibly naive to think that just because companies have PR campaigns, that is a true reflection of what goes on in those companies. Those PR campaigns are advertising and I certainly take ads with a grain of salt. That’s like saying we should believe everything politicians say.

              2. It is not, not has it ever been, my primary job to recruit people. Since you like the sales profession, would it be ok for a salesperson to spend most of their time recruiting? No, recruiting activity is limited to what is necessary.

              At the big consulting firms, recruiting is continuous, but pains are taking to hire good internal recruiters and develop relationships with good headhunters. Typically, every Friday, or every other Friday, is “interview day.” Interviewing duties are rotated among the consulting staff and management. In addition, if a specific need arises, an additional recruiting effort is mounted. Even in these environments it did not take 10% to 20% of my time for the organization to have a healthy pipeline of candidates.

              But, hey, why believe me? I’m only a hiring manager with over 20 years experience working for industry leading organizations, a track record of hiring great people that I helped mentor to their own career success, and a track record of consistently overachieving goals for profitability, revenue generation, quality, and client satisfaction. That included being highly cognizant of current and future staffing needs. In addition, I am very good at getting myself a job when I need one. I just got NINE job offers while many new grad nurse practitioners complain they can’t get a job.

              Yes, there are some crappy HR people out there. But there are also a lot of great HR people.

              Unconventional job search methods can work for some people. But they still need a decent professional resume! I am NOT going to take the extensive notes required to get the information a resume requires. For goodness sakes, providing one’s name, contact info, list of jobs/volunteer experience, and education is hardly an onerous task. This basic information can be typed into a Word document in 30 minutes. If someone were unable to provide this, I would seriously wonder if they are literate.

            • @Ann: I stand by my position and what I’ve said. Managers should be spending 20-30% of their time recruiting, or they’re not doing their job. Responding to your points:

              1. Any company whose PR and advertising do not match reality lacks integrity and doesn’t deserve anyone’s business. Excuses are just that.
              2. I did not suggest a manager’s “primary job” is to recruit. I did say that ongoing recruiting is necessary, just like selling is.

              RE: Recruiters at consulting firms. If we take them all, then the typical recruiter sucks, wastes applicants’ time, doesn’t know the business, and is throwing spaghetti at the wall. If your firm is better, I give you credit. But I don’t think this community would agree with your overall assessment.

              There are indeed some great HR folks. Many of them post here regularly. Like headhunters, however, I think most aren’t worth spit.

              I don’t question your own methods and success. But I don’t think you have a good grasp of what’s going on in the rest of the world. No offense intended. I’ve responded to over 50,000 questions from ATH readers over the years, and I meet and talk with employers, managers and HR folks from many fields and industries. I stand by my opinions and statements. The employment system in America is a mess overall.

              Two weeks ago I interviewed a top exec in a successful, well-known Silicon Valley company. Without any comment from me in advance, she offered her observation that “any manager needs to be spending 30% of their time recruiting.” She’s just one data point, but a very relevant one.

              There is nothing onerous about providing one’s name, contact info, experience or education on a resume. But to suggest that someone who chooses NOT to go job hunting by “providing” that information as their way to get in the door may not be literate is silly. Resumes may be the worst way to get in the door.

    • I want to clarify my response about some job seekers not putting in enough effort. There is a widely used forum for nursing for RNs and Nurse Practitioners. There are many new grad and experienced RNs who post and complain they can’t find a job.

      Last week, a hiring manager (Director of Nursing) for a good size hospital posted that she was having a hard time recruiting RNs. The hospital is in a small town along the Oregon coast – a beautiful area. She said she is willing to hire new grads as well as experienced RNs and needed more applicants – she was actively soliciting applicants. The hospital paid very well, along with excellent benefits like student loan repayment, and a sign on bonus. She got over 100 responses and 90% of them were comments to the effect of RN jobs suck, RNs don’t get paid enough, living in a small town sucks, Oregon sucks, and on and on and on. Only about 10% of the responses asked for the hiring manager’s contact information!!!

      I also posted on this nursing forum to give guidance on job search for new grad nurse practitioners (NPs). I stated that I had received nine job offers and explained how I achieved that. There were literally hundreds of responses, criticizing me for various reasons, saying there weren’t enough jobs out there, criticizing the locations of my opportunities (all of them were in good locations IMHO), and so on. Only ONE NP had the sense to send me a message asking me if they could have the job leads for the jobs I turned down! I provided this information and they literally had multiple phone interviews within 2 days.

      There are a lot of small businesses out there. Small business is responsible for most jobs in the US and a lot of them don’t even have an HR department. They may also not be able to fill a job via their networks. That is why they post jobs. When looking at the job listings, there is usually no indication of who is going to review the resume or who the employer is. For a small business, or practice, it is indeed the hiring manager who is going to get all the resumes. These are also often openings that don’t get a lot of applications. That is another reason why it is important to have a decent resume.

  20. Its too bad that HR needs a paper cop out.

    Who needs HR when your going to work for the hiring manager?

    The trenchant hiring question is What does HR contribute besides shuffling papers?

  21. “The best evidence of future performance is past achievement.” This is the bane of anyone attempting to transition out of a dead-end field.

    I hear from so many low-hanging fruit “recruiters” that “Employers only interested in your current skills.” This for me (as I try to transition from dead end job to Future Career via entry or junior positions) is the end of the conversation. A couple niceties about what I am really looking for and pleasant good byes, and I never hear from the “recruiter” again. No, I really don’t want to hear about your dead-end 3 month contract.

    I do wish there were some hiring managers who were dialed into the junior level market, but most fall into the “I’m too busy, let HR do it” rut. Then they likely wonder (a) why their staff looks and sounds good, but are really all hat and no cattle, and (b) why a person they would have really wanted to hire has opened up an art glass boutique over in the local equivalent of SOHO.

    HR to be honest shouldn’t have to filter 5,000 (or 50, for that matter) resumes for a position on a regular basis. If the hiring manager has any kind of network, and wakes up in the morning with a need for, say a Underwater Basket Weaver, it should be possible to have one plucked out of his or her network, and ready to send to HR for on-boarding within a day or two. Expecting HR to sift through resumes for a candidate for any position (other than HR clerk) is beyond ludicrous.

    • @L.T.: See Kathy’s comment above and my reply citing Peter Cappelli.

      Your point is absolutely critical in understanding why companies fail and economies stagnate. A company that hires based on past success reveals that it has no intention of teaching a new hire anything.

      In a healthy economy and job market, why would anyone ever take a job at such a company?

      Why would an investor put in their money, when it’s clear the company has no true competitive edge — it just keeps doing the same thing until it fails.

  22. Hahhah! We’re sorry, it’s a misunderstanding – we simply are doing our best to avoid our resumes to land in HR’s hands! That’s all :D

    That aside, but, Nick, I have been following your blog for nearly ten years now and what has truly made the difference to me was the change of attitude and change of strategy which you are “preaching”. And it works!
    Thanks a lot for this.

    • @Malgosa: You just made my day :-). Thank you. I love long-term evidence that this dog hunts.

  23. First, my practice as a hiring manager was much like Ann’s.
    None of my job contacts were gotten through the traditional send in a resume method. And I’m with Nick about using his techniques to make contact with a hiring manager. But when you do, please send a traditional resume. The hiring manager is not the only person who is going to see it, after all. Why give anyone a reason to turn against you?

    Doing the job is fine,but no one has the time to figure out the job for a dozen companies. Once you’ve made contact with the hiring manager, asking her for the biggest challenge they face makes sense. But if someone had sent me a resume accurately detailing the biggest issues we’d face, I’d call security to try to figure out who was leaking our proprietary information.
    Now hiring decisions aren’t ever made on resumes alone, and I’ve seen plenty which have exaggerated the skills of the applicant. That’s what phone screens and interviews are for.

  24. IMHO, the question is not so much resume or not, but which kind of resume, and who reads it.

    Resumes are often read by HR clerks, who don’t know anything about the technical topics. Our secretary, who did the first pass in the hiring process mentioned above, has worked in the industry for many years, and can sort out those who clearly lack the necessary experience, e.g. people with only two years of experience from a country Far Far Away – but not being a geoscientist, that’s what she can do. The rest, our CEO sorted through himself. Other companies may rely on buzzword scanning instead, or demand that a five year old can understand it. But, if I wrote like a five year old could understand, HR might like it, but it would look foolish in the eyes of a professional.

    That’s why, whenever I send a resume, I write it for a technical audience, and expect a qualified person to read it.

    Secondly, resumes are far too often just a list of positions and tasks. In the hiring process, we discovered (blinding flash of the obvious) that persons with all the right positions and tasks on the resume could still be technically mediocre when we tested them. Instead, resumes should always show accomplishments in each position, with specific examples and how they relate to the position applied for.

    The idea of giving them an “exam” with following discussion was mine, and actually inspired by reading ATH. The next time, we will also skip StinkeIn altogether (we skipped other job boards already). This time, management deliberately made the advertisement a bit vague; next time I will push to make it more clear cut on (reasonable!) technical requirements, so that we hopefully attract mostly qualified applicants, and fewer from Far Far Away. (Nothing wrong with Far Far Away, but why invite applications you know are going into the bin?). We will also use our networks more.

    I will also push for making the requirements clear up front: One of the guys we interviewed was great as a person, his experience long, but somewhat on the side. We were a bit back and forth on whether we should hire him – his attitude was great, and his aptitude could probably be updated – and we should make a “principle decision” on that up front, to not waste his or our time. (The hiring process was then paused for other reasons, but I think we should have hired him, rather than look further for a perfect candidate).

    • @Karsten: I wish more employers had actual human beings who know the dept. and the job read résumés and cover letters! Far too many let ATSes do the first “reading” (i.e., electronic keywords matches) and only those that meet the minimum required keyword matches ever make to a breathing human being, often someone in HR who doesn’t work in the dept. with the vacancy and who knows less than nothing about the job.

      I think it was L.T. years ago who commented that HR should get out of hiring (unless it is for an HR vacancy) and stick to on-boarding (making sure the new hire gets paid on time, that the requisite taxes are deducted from his paycheck, and that his benefits accrue).

      I agree with you that job requirements should be clear upfront. Too often the job description is so vague or so broad that you don’t have a clue what the employer really needs. And that may be why they get applications from thousands of people who are unqualified.

      • Yes, that was one of mine, but I was just the messenger for my late father who had spent time in Salary & Benefits at a unionized heavy manufacturing company before his 20 years with a state job services office.

        Salary & Benefits should stick with salary & benefits, and leave hiring to the managers who know what the job requires.

        A side note from me: Unions, for all their faults, could keep up a pipeline of qualified candidates, as well as help keep veterans out of homeless camps.

        • @L.T.: I’ve quoted your father many, many times. I consider that story of yours seminal.

    • @Karsten: “That’s why, whenever I send a resume, I write it for a technical audience, and expect a qualified person to read it.”

      Hmmm. Does that mean whoever is going to receive your resume should first send you their resume, so you can determine whether they’re qualified to review your resume?

      Makes sense to me. So, why do job applicants consent to providing their credentials while managers would never agree to providing theirs to job applicants?

      • Nick, good question ;) In most cases I have called the company and simply asked to talk to relevant manager – directly, or through people I know. In the cases I have responded to ads, by “ordinary” applications, I must accept that I cannot control who reads it first. But the response from the company is telling: If they invite for an interview with the hiring manager and technical people, good. If they respond with some HR clerk and the top five hundred interview questions, they are off my list. Similarly, if they do not respond at all, or by some BS HR excuse.

  25. Well, Nick needs to make a new thread on this. Here’s how I got all my jobs starting in High school in the 1970s

    Teacher referral
    Newspaper ad
    Pushed my way into news photography with a daily newspaper –
    Graduate student referral to another department
    Graduate student hire into industry
    (Break for grad school)
    Return to chemical industry job above for temp work

    Hustled my way into first sales job by calling hiring manager in area for product demo
    (Insert 20 year career in sales and sales management)

    Got fired. No, wait, I fired them. Went off on my own in 2008 charging them 6x more than they paid me for telling them how not to make the same mistakes.

    Yes, my spouse is a supermodel, and God is alive and well.

    Anyone who hired in my company by sorting through resumes would be fired by me. (Hyperbole) Im glad big companies do this, though, that way I get the good people.

    @Ann

    “Personally, I’d be willing to move to Antarctica if I got good training, experience, and a chance to have my student debt paid off by my employer or the government.:

    The first six months of probation is great, after that, not so great.

    • @V.P. Sales: A, spoken like an insightful sales person. What a great idea. You’ve identified a need and proposed how to fill it.

      I see a column (maybe even a feature) coming up…!

  26. “The best evidence of future performance is past achievement. ”

    As long as my competitors believe this, Im all set.

    #Creating 1,000,000 bots to post this to linkedin

  27. As an HR Professional for 18 years, and a follower of Nicks for many years, it’s always pained me to read the view of HR.
    Many of us do good, contributing work to make the organization and the employee’s better. I know I do, I’ve been told that many times.
    I would say in general, from my experience, as HR gets more specialized or more segmented within larger corporations (say 500+ employees), the less direct impact we get to have. It’s why I dislike corporate HR, and i believe where most less than favorable views come from. We’re restricted from being flexible, because too many exceptions to policies become unwieldy and expose the corporation to what they deem unnecessary risks. It sucks to be the one on that front end of that.
    In a smaller organization, you get to people, and management can and will make exceptions for the benefit of one or a few.

    In regard to this posting, I know the parameters of the job requirement, and I screen resumes appropriately for the manger to then review. What is appropriately? It is having the manger show me on a few initial resumes what s/he wants. And fine tuning from there. Yes, absolutely some things have to be on a resume, or I pass on it. If the job is local, your city better be on it so I know where you are (you can’t tell from phone numbers anymore!). A good capture of your contributions (not necessarily accomplishments/achievements – there’s a subtle difference). However for the most part what school you went to is irrelevant.
    Some hiring managers still wait for the purple squirrel. They’re a PITA to work with and a whole ‘nother post.

    My .02

    • @Steve: Thanks so much for drawing that crucial distinction between “big HR” environments where HR has become a kitchen sink of functions, and smaller companies where HR actually has an impact.

      I really think that is a huge part of the problem, and HR folks like you must reasonably (and unfortunately) make a career choice: Where will you work?

      So, what should HR’s role be — and not be? Maybe that’s a topic for a whole other thread.

  28. I keep hearing talk of resumes going back and forth.

    The resume is a marketing document, an advertisement – a flyer. Bulk mail. Junk mail. Circular. Get it?

    So how do you make yourself stand out when a whole bunch of other people are doing the same thing? Answer: Something unique.

    When applying for a job, like it or not, you are in sales. Also, you will get rejection after rejection. People may get angry with you. They may not call back. Sales.

    Put together your advertising package. Market yourself. Approach the same way you would as if trying to sell new equipment – but you are selling expertise or the ability to perform some function for your employer.

    Put a package of materials together. Send that package – and you bet that will get attention. Priority mail, fedex, etc.

    Get it? Marketing!

  29. This story is somewhat on topic, but I’ll admit it’s also to express something I didn’t say at the time.

    About ten days ago, I found a job listing that got me excited. I imagine most people would think it was geeky and boring, but it had the possibility of being really enjoyable for me.

    It is located about fifteen minutes from where I live.
    The salary I’m looking for was right in the middle of the posted range.
    The work is heavy-duty Modern C++ programming (C++14/17) for flight guidance.
    (I’ve been doing C++ for software that is nuclear certified, so I understand when reliability really is critical.)
    The posting said “startup culture” which could be good or could be a red flag.

    And so far, I’ve been unable to track down the company.
    Searching, I’ve found several copies of the job, and they all go to C__________, a recruiting agency here in Southern California.

    So I called C___ and left a voice mail for the sales rep who was listed for this job.
    She did call back, and she told me that I wasn’t a good fit.
    In particular, the customer wants someone who has been using C++17 at work for the past year.

    The C++17 standard was formally approved in September of 2017.
    The various C++ compilers have had varying subsets of the new features in preview for a while.

    I imagine that if I were at a company that was so forward thinking that I was already working with C++17, odds are that company would also be treating me very well, in general, and I wouldn’t want to leave.

    And in line with this week’s topic, it’s not what I’ve done for other people – it’s what I could do for them.
    So this person wouldn’t even consider someone who is smart and gets thngs done(*) and who would be enthusiastic for the job.

    But maybe that was a hard requirement from the customer.
    Or maybe it was the HR thing of not considering people who aren’t currently working.

    (*) As Nick pointed out a few weeks ago, this comes from Joel Spolsky’s blog about hiring.

    • @Timothy: “So this person wouldn’t even consider someone who is smart and gets thngs done(*) and who would be enthusiastic for the job.

      “Wouldn’t” is probably “couldn’t,” as in, “is incapable of,” because she doesn’t know that C++17 is a special case of C++, and that any programmer who is good enough at any recent flavor of C++ can and probably will come up to speed pretty quickly.

      As in, more quickly than she can find someone who has been using C++17 for longer than it’s been formally approved.

      Whether the problem is the spec from the customer or HR, it seems nobody here understands C++. I’d pay, oh, $5 to watch the video of this hiring process unfold if they could edit it down to a 5-minute lesson in making hiring mistakes, except it’s probably gonna take them longer to fill this job than it will for C++18 to get approved. Wouldn’t want to be the pilot flying the bird this code goes into :-). But if this has anything to do with military aircraft I suppose I’ll be the taxpayer paying for it regardless!

    • @timothy
      To make it easy…a smart H Manager looks past a particular programming language. they come & go. You want a smart, Software Engineer who loves programming. The language is only a tool, and a kick ass programmer’s forte isn’t expertise in A particular computer language. To them programming is programming. The ability to pick up a new language quickly and use it skillful is the talent.
      It’s not much different than giving a master carpenter a new hammer, the skill is he/she knows how to use a hammer.

      Really smart engineers who love engineering/coding ramp up really fast. But over the years I’ve watched HR & Managers looking for this person who knows Language X really well …immediately. And when you stand back & watch & look on a calendar, they keep looking, spending way more time on a search, then it takes a talented engineer to ramp up to productive levels. And use lack of talent in the Marketplace to justify slipping a deliverable

      • @Don Harkness: A manager, even one who is not particularly competent, and an HR person will both be well aware of the capacity of an experienced person to pick up a new computer language or new software (for example, I know of talented accountants who get rejected because they don’t know quickbooks – which doesn’t make sense because the main skill is accounting – quickbooks is a tool, no more, no less).

        What is happening here is bargain hunting. For example, I have been rejected because I didn’t have an FPGA background at one time. They didn’t exist (or at least weren’t taught) when I went to college. Pure hogwash! Any person who knows digital logic can work with FPGA’s. My Dad learned digital logic in the 1950’s when he went to college.

        I propose that what is happening is the latest skill set, as taught in college, is made an absolute requirement, and this way the only people who qualify are recent graduates. Employers can’t say that – age discrimination.

        I have been to many interviews where they keep throwing questions at me until I can’t answer one, and then they say, “Aha! This person is incompetent!!!”

        Liability is a big problem, and many applicants know how to take advantage of it. Sorry, but there are bad players on both sides.

        • @Kevin.
          Most of my former IT life was in S/Ware R&D organizations of large corporations. and unfortunately their hiring process can evolve into a toxic mix of rigid policy driven HR organizations with too much juice and being too far removed too little technical expertise. They like to collaborate with goose stepping managers who raise the bar high & in so doing institutionalize the policies.
          No I don’t think HR understands how fast a ramp is. And they don’t care as that’s a hiring manager’s problem.
          I agree that the Managers do know smart people can ramp up, most having done so themselves. But they won’t act on it. To hire people who don’t map into the perfect hire, involves something I don’t think anyone mentioned….risk. R&D suggests boldness, moving into leading edges etc. But in reality, engineers are careful people. And many Senior managers even more. And most of their time & money is spent on milking cash cows. the area of maintenance & enhancement, where the terrain is familiar & the risks small. R&D is usually r&D, small r, big D. Job descriptions and searches that ask for spanking new and in reality limited supply skills is someone not willing to take a risk albeit small on someone and having to justify “lowering their bar” to an overly strong and opinionated HR, and/or bosses who likewise want to mark off the requirement checklists. The rationale usually given is a desire to find someone “who will hit the ground running”. Which is BS
          As to grads. They are only bargains if managers are willing to throw them at the leading edge. They mostly could look forward to starting in low risk maintenance. Because at least back in my day you would not find grads coming out of universities educated on the latest and greatest. Because it takes budget, time and approvals to develop the course ware to position a university to develop with new tools, hardware etc. So we’d find that actually the students were 1-2 years behind the curve. And by the time the colleges caught up..the industry would be chasing the next new thing.
          Also much of the discussion also applies to internal recruiting/career growth, where a manager has the benefit of KNOWING that a person can do the job. But on paper per HR they can’t possibly do the job, because they don’t fit an HR profile. It can be heavy lifting to promote the “unqualified” with the risks of unwanted attention that comes with it. I’ve personally fought that battle more than once with some creativity won (and lost some)
          And yes, there’s age discrimination out there…I’m well aware of it. I’m nearly 79, and got my last job at 69 and worked it for 8 years. Age can be an obstacle, but not a deal breaker.
          If you’re fighting it, hang in there, and persevere. Those who do, will land something that works for them well.

        • Kevin,

          “A manager, even one who is not particularly competent, and an HR person will both be well aware of the capacity of an experienced person to pick up a new computer language or new software”

          Could there be some Dunning-Kruger effect at work her? That some managers and HR people are so incompetent that they do not know that they are incompetent? Most people would grasp the obvious logic, that one cannot hire people with longer experience in a given software that it has existed – but are some managers and HR so fixated on ideas of the perfect candidate that they just don’t get this – or don’t bother to ask how long the given software has existed?

  30. @Timothy An acid test for the relevance of “past performance” is a hot hiring market, where companies are trying to grow more rapidly than a limited candidate pool faces you with a huge shortfall of needed talent. I worked in Hi Tech IT environments as a hiring manager, and at times doubling up as a recruiter to try and keep up.

    The Scenario Timothy describes shows up about every time some new technology or new process and related buzzwords hits the street. That is, “find me people who have 2 years experience with a 1 year old product, process or tool e.g a programming language.

    You can wait til purple squirrels fly. They aren’t there! And if you go the route of “past performance and the right key words..you’re dead in the water if you really need those people.

    As the hiring manager, You learn to read between lines, work a network, do your own recruiting, to focus on finding people with potential performance or you’ll be left behind.

    Then the pendulum swings and things settle down and HR institutes & many managers follow, sacred and standardized processes that lean heavily on formulized recruiting. Which does lean heavily on rigidly matching people to job descriptions and related checklists and key words. Then everyone gets lazy with applicable laments about the lack of talent.

    The problem with this SOP approach & particularly past performance is it too frequently translates into describing the maintenance of a status quo and organizational comfort zone, and finding people who seek comfort and fit over challenge. Comfort for HR, many hiring managers & candidates is keeping things running smoothly inside a nice warm, safe box.

    Which conflicts with the need to grow..into things not yet seen, not yet understood, to be determined where you may have to move at warp speed if you don’t want to be upstaged. the aforementioned fast growth scenario is a perfect example. Those dots don’t connect to finding people who want to make a move from Point A to Point B doing exactly what they have done before, and are doing now. And have no clue how to deal with the ambiguities of the unknown.

    You’ll see that between the lines of resumes, via your network, & recognizing talent and potential in people who may not yet realize they have it. In between the lines you’ll find failures, wrong directions, stagnation which spell risk tolerance, challenge seekers, rebels, tenacity, creativity, the fuel needed to grow. If you are a Manager inside an ambitious company who its hot to trot to grow, why would you want to import people like that? Ditto HR.

    I was told back in the day by a Microsoft executive I knew, that Microsoft sought out managers, executives of failed projects, or start-ups. Why? Isn’t that a negative “past performance” Show me someone who’s not failed, screwed up, stumbled, and I’ll show you someone who’s never tried anything new & different. You don’t have to hit most people with a 2X4. Screw up on something & you’re likely not to do it again, and you’ll be a lot smarter the next time around.

    If you look around you’ll find another scenario that ties into “educational background”. You’ll find many (at least technical companies) founded by people with no college diploma or even college time, who have founded & built powerhouse companies. Where after some point, will not consider hiring (or reading resumes) from applicants with backgrounds similar to company founders. That’s an mega Corp HR mindset, where people based recruiting evolves into process based paper/online automated, park your recruiting brain at the door attempts at recruiting. Where recruiting would be a great job if I didn’t have to talk to people.

  31. “The better risk for a job hunter is to deal directly with the hiring manager…”

    I couldn’t agree more. I’m a corporate recruiter (regional non-profit healthcare system) and my initial goal is to get the strongest candidates and hiring managers talking to each other as quickly as possible. I care about the candidate experience and know the best ones will have the most career options so I want them engaging with the hiring manager sooner rather than later. Sometimes I’ll have a hiring manager who is married to the idea that I must first phone screen candidates before they talk to them. Often this step is unnecessary and wastes valuable time. I recruit for dozens of different competencies in several areas of the org and can’t always field in-depth candidate questions about the role and don’t see a lot of value in this. To me it’s a waste of the candidate’s time (and mine) and serves only to check a box that the hiring manager believes (incorrectly) to be important. And it means the position will go unfilled for that much longer. I encourage my HMs to contact candidates of interest to them right away and start interviews asap. Especially if an HM is really excited about a candidate, it doesn’t make sense to insert an arbitrary layer into the process that adds no value, delaying a hiring decision unnecessarily.

    To answer the question “what information does HR need to judge a candidate?” for me it’s only this: does the candidate meet the bare minimum requirements (specific healthcare license, previous experience if the position is not entry-level, etc.) That’s all that is needed before applications are turned over to the HM for review. However, I still read all resumes and cover letters and look for the “nice to haves” that might make a candidate more desirable to the HM and a stronger fit for the position and organization beyond the minimum requirements. I want to see this information so I can discuss it with the HM and encourage them to reach out to the candidates asap before they are no longer available. In my org, the HMs drive the interview process and I don’t have any control over how quickly HMs are engaging candidates; all I can do is consult and advise and make recommendations on the best way to proceed. It’s frustrating. But some of my HMs are really proactive and great at hiring. I coach the ones who aren’t there yet to help them make changes to their process that are better for the candidates and HMs, and get positions filled more quickly.

  32. Exactly how is a resume supposed to sum up all of your work, if you have worked for more than a few years? Add in companies not taking the time to figure out what skills sets are actually needed for a position and you have a real problem.
    Not to mention why companies seem to prioritize employees who have stuck it out at a company even though they were learning nothing new vs employees who have put an emphasis on learning new things. The current business environment is changing rapidly and I would prioritize those employees who have kept up their skills. Companies claim to be doing this but I have noticed a real bias against older individuals who went back for additional training.

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