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Friday, January 20, 2006
Hiring Managers Aren't Stupid
I’ve just completed a long week of resume reviews. January is our busy month and everyone wants to make sure they have a great resume to start looking for a new job. As I’m reviewing resumes (about 10-15 per day), I start to see trends that a jobseeker just looking at one resume (his own) doesn’t see. One of the trends is the subconscious assumption that hiring managers are stupid.

Job seekers writing their own resumes make these assumptions and they aren’t even aware of it. For example, I reviewed a CEO resume that was four pages long with work history going back for four or five companies. No where in the resume was there a mention of a date – not a date for employment periods, education, nada. I could tell from just looking at the huge amount of information detailed for each position that the job seeker had been a productive executive for many years, but the job seeker must have thought the hiring manager wouldn’t make the connection. Worried about the age hurdle, the job seeker omitted his dates of employment and thus sent a red flag to the hiring manager.

Think about it – if a company is looking for a CEO they realize most of the candidates are not going to be “twenty-somethings”. Good CEO candidates will have lots of experience, wisdom, and knowledge and the only way to get those attributes is to have spent time in the trenches. Job seekers worry about age when it should not be a hurdle but rather an attribute. Trying to hide age on a resume by deleting dates just shows the hiring manager the job seeker thinks he’s too old. Nothing is hidden but a lot is revealed about the candidate with this tactic.

Job seekers also think hiring managers can’t read between the lines. Some job seekers are intent on listing every single bit of information about their experience rather than allowing the hiring managers to think about it. For example, if someone has worked as the North American Marketing Director for a Fortune 500 company, it’s going to be a “given” the person has written numerous memos, agenda, and given lots of presentations. Hiring managers can read that from the context of the job and the scope of the accomplishments. It’s not necessary to spell it out.

A third way job seekers assume hiring managers are stupid is by outlining all their soft skills right up front as if this information is super-valuable to the decision-maker. Hiring managers read hundreds of resumes a month. Every resume claims the soft skills: “strategic thinker”, “proven track record”, “innovative leader”. Hiring managers are so immune to these claims they don’t even read this stuff anymore! They are looking for hard results. How has the job seeker proven he has been a strategic thinker? What do the numbers say about his proven track record? How has he been an innovative leader? And most importantly, what has resulted from all these nice attributes?

So give the hiring managers some credit. Make sure your resume demonstrates your strengths and not just claims the soft skills. Don’t be afraid of your time spent learning your trade and climbing the career ladder. And realize that hiring managers realize your job entails a great deal more than you can ever list on a resume.

November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 /


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