talent in a flood of resumes
Ross Statham, Editor,
October 14, 2019
Need talent? In this article, I am first going to try to talk you out of
doing it yourself, for reasons that others have already discovered (and that I will
outline). But if you do wish to continue to do a search on your own and
are looking for insights, read on.
The firm I
founded and lead (Dogwood) provides
talent across a wide range of industries (including the Fortune 10), non-profits
and even government. Typically we are called in by those who have had
previous experience with trying to do their own talent search and found it was
much more efficient to use us, or by those who tried to do their own search but
realized that it was more than they could effectively take on.
First, let's discuss
the three biggest reasons that organizations use outside search firms:
The best talent rarely responds
to job openings
Your H/R department may be not
equipped to help with this
Not enough hours in the workday
The best talent rarely responds to job openings
probably heard it before, and it's true. The top talent is careful and circumspect as to
making career moves. The best talent rarely goes looking for new
opportunities-- but they will listen when the right opportunity presents itself.
Many years ago
this happened to me. I received one of those calls out of the blue, which
turned into a great new job well suited to my own talents in the tech field. I loved my new job and never looked back.
talent will usually need to be recruited (reached out to) by someone
outside your organization. Executive recruiters use their own databases,
can dig and find the right talent and pitch your
organization's strengths to the very best prospective talent.
Your H/R Department may not be fully equipped to help
observation is that most HR departments may not be fully equipped to find
talent, because it's not their primary responsibility. Even at the
company I lead (a talent acquisition company, no less), our own HR folks are
concerned with administering to employees, ensuring that benefits are being properly managed,
paperwork is up to date, regulatory compliance is being fully met and in dealing with the myriad of
payroll, benefits, vendor, personnel and other HR issues that arise every day.
Most HR departments have stated goals to include talent acquisition in their
responsibilities, but even the best HR departments have difficulty in doing so.
However, my opinion is that most do an excellent job of supporting the process
once candidates are identified and interviewed.
Challenge #3: Not enough hours in the workday
If you're like most
people, you are constantly adjusting your daily priorities in order to get
things done on time and under budget.
Do you have time for
this? Probably not. Our past experience has shown that those
searching for talent need to allocate between 1-3 hours per day per
job opening to pore through resumes, screen out those who are completely
unqualified, second screen those who may be of interest, conduct basic phone
screens and perform some basic information searches on potential candidates.
Free up your time by using an outside expert
By now you are
learning why successful executives use outside executive search firms.
First, find someone who already understands your industry (so
you don't have to educate them) and who already knows where some of the best
talent can be found. Make sure they're reputable, well established and
have a track record of success. (Yes, it's ok to ask for references!)
Ideally, they're large enough to be well established, but not so large that your
needs can get lost in the shuffle.
You can use a
contingency based firm (where you only
pay for success), or use a retained search firm, where you pay a fee (in
advance) and they exclusively represent you to candidates. Either way works, but I generally recommend you select an experienced
contingency based firm that you're comfortable with and give them an exclusive
for 30 days. That way they're focused on you, you have a definite time
frame in front of them, and you're only paying for results. If they
don't work out, you can add someone else to the mix as needed without additional
Allocating time to your expert
One of the
best executive recruiters on our team tells his new clients that he's their sharpshooter,
and they're his spotter (to tell him how he's doing with the people he sends
them, or in military terms, to
tell him where his shots are falling). Because the hiring manager he's
working with has a
need for specific talent, they form a "partnership" for a relatively short time
while he finds, filters, screens and interviews talent for the client.
Keep that in mind-- these outside experts need your input for this to work in a
(which should only take about 15 minutes), tell them what
you're looking for, what you're trying to accomplish and details about the job
as you see it. Perhaps refer them to a subordinate for additional details
and discuss compensation and benefits.
Good executive recruiters know what kind of questions to ask and will guide you
through areas you may not have even thought about.
started the process, turn them loose and let them do their jobs. You
should start to see real results within two to five business days, depending
upon the complexity of your needs. But
remember-- they need you to communicate where their shots are
falling. Just five minutes per day allocated to your executive
recruiter during the search can yield stellar results.
The basics of the posting and filtration process:
Still want to
tackle this yourself? Here are some suggestions for how to proceed:
If you do your own posting, allow two
or more hours per day (minimum) for 2-3 weeks.
Recognize that this won't help
you find the top talent. They rarely respond to job postings.
Determine the salary range, daily
duties, and a brief overview of desired qualifications.
Ask for help. This could be
from your HR department, from subordinates, or from others on your team.
They could help you write
a good job description, help you better communicate with candidates and help you to
find and select better talent.
Setup someone you trust (HR, a
member of your team or subordinate) to do some of the heavy resume
filtering before handing them over to you.
Post your job opening. But as noted above, don't have the resumes
come to your work email (which can be overwhelming), have them go elsewhere
As the resumes arrive to you,
toss out those who obviously won't make your cut. Those who are a
"maybe" can be sent a (form email) note thanking them for their interest,
and spelling out some details of what you are looking for and painting a realistic picture
of the job. Many people can be filtered out this
way, saving you additional looking.
If you need to perform a software
"scan" for key words again (perhaps using a Boolean search), now's probably
a good time to do so. This is particularly helpful with technical
positions, when you're looking for details of what they've done and when.
At this point you're starting to
see where some resumes are starting to meet your needs by putting eyeballs
on the ones that get your attention. Save these; if
you think it appropriate, you can put their names on a spreadsheet (such as
Google Sheets) with
As your eyeballs scan resumes, look at
their last three jobs. How long were they there? What did they
accomplish? What were their daily duties?
If they continue to hold your
interest, drill down from "scanning" to reading. Look for obvious
negative and positives. Red flags may include employment gaps,
evidence of decreasing responsibility, a career that has flattened or is
moving in the wrong direction, short-term employment at several jobs, and
multiple shifts in their career path.
Continue to review your selected
resumes against your criteria and each other.
Found someone you like?
Look them up on LinkedIn and Google them and see what you can learn about
Telephone screen potential
Bring in strong candidates for a
face to face.
Again, you need to ask yourself if you really have the
time. If so, then have at it! But if you're
like most busy executives, using an experienced outside expert will tremendously
shortcut the process which will save both time and money. Most
importantly, it will help you find those harder to find talented people who rarely
respond to job openings.
The best talent rarely responds
to ads or postings.
Be willing to think outside the
Read between the lines on resumes
with a skeptical eye.
Be open to fresh ideas from an
Team with an experienced outside
expert who knows your industry and who their own database of talent. Five minutes per day can yield stellar results.
Once they are starting to line up
interviews for you, have them do as much of the heavy lifting as possible,
including phone screens, pre-interviews, interview prep and after the
interview, do the reference checks and work with your HR department.
This will free you up to take care of the thousand other things that need to
be done in the course of your day.
If you found this article to be helpful,
let us know, and share with others. All the best!
Talent Perspectives: Insights for Busy
Professions is a series of brief articles that help build winning teams,
provide insight on talent and provide organizational development ideas.
The opinions expressed herein are those of the
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