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Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Mediocre Resumes Don't Make the Grade
Ever wonder exactly what a hiring manager does? Let’s take a look inside the process the hiring manager of XYZ Corporation, a small manufacturing company in Wisconsin, undertakes when sourcing for a LAN manager position.

Susan arrives at work around 8:30 on a Tuesday morning and already she’s frazzled. Her car had a flat tire this morning when she went out to take the kids to school and getting her neighbor to put on the donut tire put her behind schedule by thirty minutes. Her inbox is overflowing and the coffee pot in the lounge is on the fritz.

She sits down at her computer and boots up. They posted the new LAN Manager position that Bob Grey is leaving on yesterday and her first order of business is to sort through any resumes that have been submitted in response to it. She’s hoping to find a local candidate because XYZ is in cost containment mode and won’t be offering much of a relocation package, if any. The cost containment actions are what spurred Bob Grey, the best LAN Manager they’ve ever had, to give his two weeks’ notice because the promotion he was due was put on hold indefinitely. She also has a very limited salary range and she knows that a local candidate will be more likely to accept that range than someone coming in from California or another high-cost-of-living area.

As she opens her email application, the ding-dong noting that she has incoming mail sounds. She watches in despair as the number of new email messages in her inbox rolls over like the mileage counter on the space shuttle. When it is finally finished, she has over 350 emails waiting in her inbox, most of which have subject lines that say “resume”. She wishes the coffee maker was working because it is going to be a long morning, if not a long day and it’s only 8:40 a.m. Unfortunately, the HRIS (Human Resources Information System) that she requested also went out the window as part of cost containment so she has to deal with these the old-fashioned way – one at a time.

Knowing she prefers local candidates, and going on the long shot that one of them might have his address within the email message area, she runs a quick search on the emails using the name of the city as a keyword. The search brings up three emails of the 350 so she starts with those. By lunchtime, she’s worked her way through about 50 resumes and cover letters. She feels like if she reads the phrase “detail-oriented” or “excellent communication skills” just one more time, she’s going to go postal. She has pulled out four possible candidates and still has 300 more to go. At this rate, she might have a short list of potential candidates by the end of the week, but that doesn’t take into consideration the rest of the applicant emails that she will receive between now and the time the ad on Monster expires. And candidates get upset that she doesn’t send them a personal acknowledgement of receipt of their resumes? It’s just not humanly possible!

Susan’s experience could be and should be made easier with the use of an HRIS system – a computer system that automatically stores resumes and sends the applicants form-letter-type acknowledgements that the resume has been received. Most companies nowadays use such a system in order to handle the sheer volume of applicants that today’s Internet-based job search technology creates. The system also allows the hiring manager to search the resume database for keywords that are part of the job qualifications. Susan is doing it the old way, by hand, but the information she seeks has not changed. She is seeking candidates who are local and who fit the required qualifications for the job. She is searching (mostly by eye), resumes that contain the keywords that describe the job such as “network manager”, “CCIE”, “MCSE” and “enterprise support”. She has a certain list of criteria in front of her ranked in order of importance and she’s culling resumes based on whether she can find this information in the approximately 45 seconds she spends on each resume.

If she doesn’t see these main criteria immediately, she moves on. She may come back and she may not, depending on what the short list of candidates ends up being by the end of the week. Hiring managers who are using an HRIS system are doing the same thing, only they are looking at pre-culled resumes and seeking secondary qualifications and persuasive information such as how a candidate has innovated or made an impact on operations for the good. The standard for inclusion in the short list is higher and makes it more difficult for mediocre resumes of candidates to make it to the short list.

Mediocre resumes that only provide job description and basic information don’t make it to the short list of candidates to call for an interview. Only those resumes that actually sell the candidate can leap the higher bar with hiring managers reviewing resumes that have already been culled at least once by HRIS systems.

November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 / February 2006 / March 2006 / April 2006 / May 2006 / June 2006 /


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