How Short-Sightedness Is Hurting Your Long-Term Recruiting Strategy

Are You a Recruiter, Resume Snob?

Do you fancy yourself a resume snob? Are you one who creates hoops for qualified candidates to jump through? Do you turn away candidates because of spelling errors, resume formatting or other hidden, invisible or self-imposed requirements that are left for the candidate to infer, guess or visit a psychic about? If so, this article was written just for you.

Back in 2001, I was a certified resume and application snob. I was new in my human resources and recruiting career. I didn’t know better. I used to brag about disqualifying candidates because they couldn’t correctly spell the state abbreviation. I was living in Kansas and disqualified any candidate who wrote ‘KA’ on their application. Looking back I was wrong. This behavior was silly, shallow and short sighted. I’m certain I missed on meeting and hiring some amazing candidates.

Your candidates are more than resumes. A single profile or 2 sheets of paper don’t provide a full picture of a candidate and lead us to treating our job seekers as objects instead of human beings. We live and die by the resume. A single resume of a candidate doesn’t demonstrate all-inclusive qualifications, personality and skills of a candidate. Let’s not make a resume into more than it should be. There’s a real person behind that application or resume with a heart, a soul and dreams that make them unique.

It’s because of this that I believe recruiters shouldn’t receive resumes via email or as part of paper applications. There’s so much more to the candidate’s story and as recruiters we aren’t able to the see the bigger picture using a subject line, 3 paragraphs and a couple attached files about what makes a candidate unique. As recruiters, we shouldn’t manage the receiving of resumes via email. Email wasn’t built to sort, rank and qualify job seekers for our openings. It’s not a piece of hiring or HR technology. Your email is literally the world’s worst ATS. The process of skimming of emails and resume attachments for positions is tedious. Search is non existence not to mention a system of checks and balances. Recruiters you deserve better, and there is a better way.

Looking at the Bigger Picture of Recruiting and Talent Acquisition

I guess I’m what you call an HR technology snob. However, I prefer process snob when it comes to evaluating and engaging talent. By using a candidate relationship manager (CRM) or application tracking system (ATS)  that includes a resume upload instead of relying on email and the recruiter, those resume must haves and other recruiter-imposed rules and preferences become less important. Our eyes become more open to the whole candidate.

Parsing and matching software contained within ATS and CRM technologies do the job of determining a candidate’s experience and fit. Machine learning technologies are working to eliminate these biases like those described above as well as the need for recruiters to simply just skim a resume. We’re able to see more about the candidate. We’re able to observe the candidate’s social media footprint which reveals far more than a resume, our recruiter biases, gut instincts or inferences ever can or will. You and I are now able to be recruiters who are focused on doing our jobs which is finding, engaging and evaluating talent instead of being the grammar or spelling police.

A Resume Is Only a Snapshot of a Candidate

A resume is a document. It’s a representation of a candidate’s experience and skills that tells a version of a story about a candidate’s career. It offers one perspective that doesn’t always accurately provide a clear picture of the candidate. In short, the resume is not always complete. Candidates aren’t always marketers. In most cases they aren’t, and yet we expect them to be. The candidate profile and the candidate’s career story only becomes more clear when recruiters use a combination of candidate data, information and resources. These resources include recruiters actively accessing information about the candidate including social media profiles, work portfolios, previous recruiter notes that are contained within your CRM or ATS and candidate discovery in the form of phone screens, video and in person interviews.

The key to an effective candidate engagement and selection strategy goes beyond the ATS and CRM. It leverages technology that engages while qualifying candidates going beyond a standard hiring assessment or initial screening. Yes, I’m talking about AI, artificial intelligence. Imagine a single bot engaging while also qualifying candidates on your career site, the job posting or via a chat box asking questions and gathering information about your candidate even before as well as after they apply.

Recruiters and talent acquisition teams who are resume snobs are missing out on great candidates due to their shortsightedness, inability to see the bigger more strategic picture of the talent acquisition process and employment life cycle. This snobbery impacts a much larger ecosystem than that of a single or individual recruiter. It hurts the entire recruiting, HR and talent acquisition industry.

What Do Great Recruiters Do?

Great recruiters take time to get to know candidates and develop relationships. They tap into their professional networks both digital and offline which is key to being not just a good or average recruiter but a great recruiter that is invested in not just the candidate in the short term but for the entire career of not just the candidate as an individual but all candidates they engage. Great recruiters leverage all resources at their disposal including candidate information as well as technology to determine candidate qualifications, cultural fit, skills and experiences.

Am I being unrealistic? No, I think not. Unemployment rates are at zero unemployment levels and a recent study from MRINetwork found 90% of recruiters admit the job market is a candidate driven one. We know great candidates are in demand so why do we make it so hard for candidates to apply? Why create barriers to great talent when you should using technologies and creating processes that allow your recruiters to be productive, engage and scale their efforts.  The war for talent is a marathon not a sprint except when it comes to finding top talent in a competitive market. We need great quality hires and performers immediately to grow our businesses. Talent acquisition leaders need to establish processes and technology for the long term.

Makes no sense in why I would disqualify a candidate simply because they did or did not include a summary on their resume or because they didn’t save the title of their resume file document to your or our as recruiters liking.

As recruiters and talent acquisition leaders, we have a great responsibility that comes with great power. Our behaviors and actions not only impact the organization and our hires we are directly responsible for in our roles. We have another power and responsibility we often forget. We are not just impacting the lives of those we hire but the lives of those we do not. With great power like that comes great risk. It’s up to make the choice to use it wisely and focused not on creating obstacles but empowering others. This is why I do what I do.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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