September 22, 2011

3 Characters Missing From A Resume

Hi there. I'm a resume, and I represent a candidate for the open position. Filter me.

I had been trying to fill an open position for quite some time.

Now that we are part of a big corporation, the hiring process involved the creation of a job description and inputting it into the system, and a discussion with the (remote) internal recruiter. We talked about the needs of the position, the characteristics of a good candidate, and the technical skills that would help a person succeed in this role.

I conducted phone interviews with a number of candidates, and face-to-face interviews with some, but hadn't yet found the right person.

One of the QAers on my team mentioned that he was going to refer a friend. This is always a good thing - good for me, since I get access to people that my terrific team members think would fit, and good for my team member, since he can earn a significant referral bonus. The process requires that the referred candidate's information and resume get entered into the system, that it go through the internal recruiter, and then eventually come to me.

But after a week, I hadn't seen this particular candidate's resume come through! So I contacted our internal recruiter and asked about him.

The recruiter indicated that since XML was one of the technologies I mentioned as being important, and since the candidate didn't mention XML on his resume, the recruiter hadn't considered this candidate as qualified. I asked that the candidate be moved forward anyway. copyrightjoestrazzere

When conducting a phone interview with this candidate, I quickly learned that he was clearly well-versed in XML, and just hadn't considered it important enough to mention on his resume. In the end, we hired him, so all's well that ends well, I suppose.

But I almost missed out on a really good candidate due to 3 missing characters.

In thinking back, I have been trying to determine what I should have done differently. I have to let the recruiter do his job, and I have to let him filter out unqualified versus qualified candidates - otherwise I'd be forced to read through thousands of applicants' resumes. Perhaps I was too strict in my qualification, but XML was really important for this particular role. Perhaps I should have asked to see some of the rejected resumes early in the process to make sure the recruiter's filter was appropriate for the open position.

Anyway, when I re-write my resume, I might consider somehow squeezing in keywords representing every single technology I've ever touched, so that I don't miss out on great opportunities for which I'm clearly qualified. I don't want to be omitted by an over-zealous recruitment filter!

This article originally appeared in my blog: All Things Quality
My name is Joe Strazzere and I'm currently a Director of Quality Assurance.
I like to lead, to test, and occasionally to write about leading and testing.
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  1. Actually I did go through all the resumes with the recruiters I used, internal or not. Mostly because of what you mention, recruiters are good but like specs they can only go by what we ask for. So as we went through resumes I talked more about what I wanted, and gave feedback on candidates that did not fit so they understood why I did not want someone. It worked out well and a few times I got some stellar candidates.

  2. In this particular example the problem is a) with the recruiter and b) with the process.

    If you specified XML and the recruiter didn't even ask the candidate for this requirement then he didn't do his job in my book.

    It's a problem with either the process or the CV if the recruiter can't establish if the candidate is worthy for consideration and only relies on keywords.
    I'd rather go for the soft skills - can the candidate tell me what he's doing when he comes into work every morning? Can I understand what the project is about that he's working on? Do I get a good view of his tasks and responsibilities? Do I get if he's someone working under instructions only or if he's the type who finds work and gets things moving?
    That can't be described in keywords and is down to the skill of the recruiter and the person specifying what their actual needs are imo.

  3. Perhaps this candidate did not do his part of the job search? If XML is important and I assume it was said as such on the job description, the candidate should have added it to the resume. Especially if this candidate is well-versed in XML.
    Mike Girenko

  4. Hmm, so you are saying that the internal recruiter should contact every applicant and ask questions to clarify their ability to meet the requirements if it isn't obvious from their resume?

    Interesting. I'm not sure that would be a viable solution, given the volumes of resume received and the workload the recruiters have.

  5. I think the difference here is 'internal' recruiter versus 'external' recruiter. If talking the latter, then I agree with Thomas.

    If internal, then I'd leave it with the candidate as long as the advertisement has included XML as a key element. This situation being slightly different as it was a referral. In a referral situation it would be common for the candidate to assume that their CV will 'automatically' find its way to the hiring manager/team leader, and that they would not normally look at the advertisement.

  6. Have observed this in some companies!
    Whenever we "apply" for a position, the recruiter (internal or third party) sends a form for the candidates to fill in.

    This form asks the candidate to fill in their resume, however in a template which is consistent with what the employer desires!