Resume Wasteland

Man looks in the abyss, there’s nothing staring back at him. At that moment, man finds his character. And that is what keeps him out of the abyss.”  Wall Street, 1987

Candidate sends a resume into the abyss, there’s no response coming back to him. At that moment, candidate gets more frustrated. And that is what keeps candidates in the abyss.”  Whitaker, 2014

Do you remember this “wtf?” moment in the movie Wall Street? “Bud” (Charlie Sheen, in an eerie foreshadowing of future events) is being hauled out of his brokerage, cuffed and crying, strung out on coke, greed, and stupidity. Right before he is about to meet this fate, the old sage of the office, “Lou” (Hal Holbrook) offers the aforementioned nugget of wisdom.

I feel like Lou these days, trying to explain to qualified job-seekers why they have been automated right out of consideration. But I’m not sure how many times you can repeat the same message while still believing it yourself.

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are all the rage in the corporate recruiting world. lt’s no mystery why—an ATS is a critical tool when managing the ability to receive, organize, and automate the mass of resumes that flood most recruiting departments. A company has a distinct advantage in terms of compliance, record keeping, templates, boilerplates, documentation… looking for a tool to increase efficiency? This is your kinda product.

But what about the candidate?

In the conversations I’ve had with candidates (both hired and “rejected”) they all seem to agree with one thing—they hate the ATS. Hard to blame them… the ATS allows for recruiters to be human SEO machines, quickly scanning for a few quick keywords and the assurance that someone is actively employed. Fair? No. Reality? Yes.

I gotta get new hobby
I gotta get new hobby

Open jobs will receive hundreds of submissions; there aren’t enough hours (or recruiters) in the day to thoughtfully review each one. But there may be a few things we can do to improve the current state:

1. Limited Window of Opportunity – Close that posting one week after you activated it, review the candidates who have applied. Long-term postings are a graveyard for resumes.

2. Limited Channels – Instead of posting the job on ten different job sites, identify 1 or 2 sites that speak specifically to the audience you are seeking. You don’t want serial applicants—don’t use serial postings.

3. Better Job Descriptions – More detail into the details. Hard and soft skills, minimum years of experience, industry specific experience, location, and (this is the toughie) compensation information.

4. (Candidates) No More Serial Applicants – Applying to every available job only perpetuates the mess. I know when you are out of work, there is a primal reason for throwing your name in the hat for any and every posting, but be honest with yourself: “If I get this job, would I stay here a year?”

I really don’t know what the solution is, but I do know there is a perfect storm that perpetuates the problem: large numbers of quality candidates, ATS-enabled ability to accept all comers, limited “people” resources to actually engage with the candidates. We’re building a huge audience of people only to ignore them.

We’re lost, but we’re making good time, yes?


Ebola? None For Me, Thanks

If you want to know what’s inside something, just squeeze.” – Whitaker wisdom, date unknown.

Grow up in Texas and you’ll pick up any number of colloquialisms, parables, metaphors, and the like…sometimes, you even invent them. This one is a family favorite, passed down from my Pop.

On a related topic, have you heard about this #Ebola “thing?” Yep, thought so.

will there be room service?
will there be room service?

Here at “Ground Zero” (that’s Dallas to you folks) the E-word dominates the airwaves, coffee shop chatter, and my morning newspaper. A second health-care worker has tested positive for the disease after caring for the careless traveler from Liberia who brought his deadly virus to our town. Since we’re on the topic of “careless,” Dallas has proven that it’s not only West Africa airport screeners that are guilty of negligent behavior; the Keystone events at Presbyterian Hospital are shameful at many levels and include many people. Still, this radically negligent chain of events has resulted in exactly one death in the United States.

Influenza, as a comparison, has resulted in approximately 70,000 deaths in America in the last calendar year.

That’s a healthy disparity (pardon the pun.) But can we please maintain a bit of perspective here? Read this excellent article by Dr. Katz calling for similar restraint when considering the imminent danger to your person.

But the talk, the fear, and the hype of the moment is Ebola. We’ve been “squeezed,” and predictably, the collective panicked behavior speaks loudest to one truth – we cannot stand the unknown. Just as we reacted to SARS, AIDS, Bird Flu, and any other scourge that penetrates our bubble of safety here in good old ‘Merica.

We want (demand) certainty. “Guarantees.” Explanations. SOMETHING. Even at the expense of the truth.

I’m not trying to minimize the seriousness of a deadly virus; all things considered, I’d rather pass on Ebola. I’m trying to stress the need for a communication plan. The communication being disseminated in Dallas at this moment is akin to an employee rumor mill gone mad. The people with the platform to communicate (media) continue to inflame the situation by speculating (and sensationalizing) instead of providing useful information. Ebola is the boogie man we don’t know yet, so we take this information and run with it, oftentimes resulting in harmful consequences we have manifested ourselves – exactly how it happens in Corporate America; rumor is allowed to fester, informal communication takes the place of formal communication, a tough situation becomes complicated with emotion instead of fact. People begin obsessing rather than working, fearing instead of focusing, and generally creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. You want to be sick? Keep worrying, that should do it.

Remember, the universe abhors a vacuum – the lack of a responsible communication plan leaves the door wide open for hyperbole, rumor, drama, and hysteria.

The media is squeezing you right now…show them what’s really inside you & live your life despite the noise.