Archive for the ‘resumes’ category

March Madness – What Hiring Managers & Recruiters Can Learn

March 21st, 2014

march madnessIn business, we often find ourselves using sports metaphors to capture the essence of a situation, such as noting that a new hire “knows the ropes” (from expertise in sailing) or that someone has “jumped the gun” (referring to acting quickly without thinking things through, from the starter’s pistol in the world of track and field.)

With that in mind, it’s useful to consider that every year, as college basketball teams compete to see which is the best in the nation, America is fixated on March Madness. Hiring managers can learn a lot from basketball’s March Madness as they go through the process of recruiting and hiring new employees.

For example, when you see an underdog rising to the top during March Madness, you can view the process as comparable to when a new applicant uses hard work and talent to distinguish himself from the competition, notes a recent article by Tom Gimbel at Entrepreneur.

Applicants who may not immediately look like they are the best, at least on paper, can still rise to the top as HR managers get a chance to see them in action (during interviews).

The very process of screening through applicant resumes is akin to the weeding out period when poorly performing basketball teams fall by the wayside. You can look at your initial cuts (such as eliminating candidates who do not possess a college degree or lack experience using a particular application) in the same way that basketball teams are eliminated because they are ill-prepared to deliver the goods on the court, notes Gimbel.

Lester Picker, writing in the National Bureau of Economic Research, raises a question of bias that all hiring managers should keep in mind. He asked whether March Madness leads to “irrational exuberance in the NBA draft.”

The answer was that NBA personnel do not irrationally give too much weight to the most recent, dramatic and colorful data (players who make big, unexpected scores and teams who win unexpectedly). In fact, observing players giving an exceptionally good performance under all the hype and media attention is like watching a job applicant shine while under the glare of intense questioning by HR professionals.

Finally, when you like a promising candidate who is on the bubble, you are advised to follow up and make an offer before he is snatched up by one of your competitors. This is just like when teams identify a supremely talented player during March Madness and inundate him with lucrative offers.

Because sports metaphors like March Madness are so useful in describing the highly competitive world of recruitment and hiring, we should expect to see them remain as powerful tools amongst hiring managers and recruiters.


Finding the Hiring Balance Between Fit and Fact

March 10th, 2014

balanceWhen making the decision about whether to hire one promising job candidate over another, it may be tricky for you to strike a good balance between the facts about each individual and how well it seems that they will fit in your company culture.

Recruiters and hiring managers may be reluctant to rely on the hiring model of using only data, resumes, an applicant tracking system and referrals to make a primarily fact-based decision. They recognize the importance of intangibles, such as ensuring that each new hire will work well with existing teams and will be a good representative of the corporation’s culture.

However, striving for a good fit instead of emphasizing the facts about an applicant’s skills, knowledge and experience can lead to an atmosphere of fraternity and sorority-style hazing, notes a recent Forbes article by Micah Solomon that points out the pitfalls of peer assessments. He cited the example of companies such as Whole Foods, where coworkers vote on whether to retain a new hire after a 30- to 90-day probationary period. You run the risk of only hiring “people like us”, which can lead to reduced diversity.

When the company is populated by a core group of initial hires who made it through the early tough days of the startup period, they may function like immune system antibodies “that attack outsiders who bring in new ideas or methodologies,” notes Barry Schuler in a recent Inc. article.

While you may have achieved great success with your founding employees pulling all-nighters, you run the risk of missing out on a great candidate who has a family at home but is just as talented, if not more so than those who burn the candle at both ends. Schuler suggests that companies build a counterculture to help them develop a diverse melting pot of new employees.

However, you have the power to strike a good balance between fit and fact in the hiring process. Begin by examining your corporate culture, recommends Rhonda Ness in a recent article at Insperity. This will help you determine what makes people want to work at your organization. Details that make up the “sizzle” of your corporate culture and attract candidates include corporate size, benefits, work schedules, and dress code.

You will also want to convey your corporate culture to applicants by crafting detailed job descriptions instead of using generic announcements.

Ness suggests that during the interview process, you should ask applicants what role they played in the team at their last job, and find out how successful they were at working with their colleagues.

Striking the perfect balance between skill set and corporate fit is never going to be an easy task for HR professionals. However, by paying close attention to the messages you send out about your corporate culture and asking better questions during interviews, you will be a lot closer to achieving the right mix for your organization.

Recruiting Employees from a New Generation of Talent

March 20th, 2013

recruiting young talentIn a recent article “Hiring New Grads? Don’t Make These 3 Mistakes” appearing in The Daily Muse, Trent Hazy compares the process of recruiting graduating college seniors to dating in middle school. As the naïve college student reaches out (flirting) with employers, the recruiter often ignores sound advice that could have come from well-meaning parents.

Hazy lists three rules, patterned on dating protocol, to avoid overlooking or losing good candidates.  He takes into account several values that are overall good qualities a recruiter can possess, including social intelligence, patience, respect and tenacity.  Consider them especially as they apply to highly competitive software development, engineering and IT jobs:

  • Don’t be too-quick to make a decision during the interview – after all, not everyone falls in love at first sight. A nervous performance at an in-person or video interview doesn’t mean the candidate can’t excel in your organization. Remember, they’re new at this. Go the extra mile to meet them over lunch or take them on a tour around your site. In these venues, you’ll be better able to judge personal qualities like leadership and creativity. Best of all, go where they are – set up an information table at the university coffee shop or host a Q&A session on campus about your business or industry.
  • Give the relationship time before making a decision. Go beyond the resume and interview. Ask for a sample of the student’s work, such as a class project description or paper, that’s relevant to the position or industry. Also, consider paid summer or after graduation internships in which you can assess the candidate’s real performance on the job. You may find gold that was hidden under interview clutter.
  • Treat the student – or date – with respect, just as you would any other professional candidate. Remember that you’re representing your organization and brand. Students deserve common courtesy, so return emails and calls quickly, and don’t keep them hanging on your decision. Even if you don’t hire this candidate, it’s possible your paths will cross in the future through your common industry interests.

And here’s another thought: technology is an essential part of life for students going out into the workforce, so embrace everything that social media recruiting has to offer. Post open positions, college events and internship opportunities on Facebook – you can make it even easier through automated interfaces like Don’t forget LinkedIn and Twitter. Also, consider creating a mobile app that links directly to your organization’s career website.

Just like dating, recruiting is a courtship, especially for highly-sought after post college grads in fields like software development and engineering.  Follow these basic dating rules and the resulting relationship will benefit you, your organization, and your new employee.

Battle of the Online Resume Builders

November 11th, 2009

As the popular commercial reminds us, there seems to be an app for just about everything these days. For the past year or so, I’ve noticed a new category of online apps gaining visibility: online resume creators. Google search “resume builder” and you’ll find dozens of tools, some free some not.  Oh, and you’ll come across plenty of humans hocking their “expert” resume writing skills, many for a fee.

So what gives with these online resume builders?  Well, I decided to see for myself.  After wading through hundreds of search results and weeding out the pay sites (see rip off), I decided to try the 4 products listed below. To get an idea of how these systems work and to evaluate them more accurately, I created a resume on each site.


ResuWe is a free site that allows users to format, structure and optimize their resume simply by uploading a current version of the document. The site recognizes the key components of a user’s resume and automatically parses the information with minimal data entry necessary. I found ResuWe generally intuitive but the site is a little cluttered and the navigation is a little clunky.

ResuWe has teamed up with and has added the ability to search for jobs.  The site also plans to offer tips on preparing cover letters and will offer general job search tips. The service has some basic SNS functionality and simple promotional tools.  On the FAQ page, they also claim that they working on an advanced job match service that will be offered for a fee.  But, the automatic parsing is the knockout feature here.


Pongo has a couple subscription options, including a free trial account, or, for a monthly or annual fee, you can download the resume you create and have access to other tools like advanced job matching and task management.  The free service is pretty limited.  The tool takes you through a monotonous step-by-step process by which you create your resume that is stored on the site.  If you’ve ever used free tax preparation software or renewed your driver’s license online, you’ll recognize the UI. T was no able to export my finished product because I didn’t upgrade to a paid account.


Jobspice is free and for good reason. Unless they are in stealth mode, creating some killer app behind the scenes, this seems more like a school project than a commercial app. Currently, the service is exclusively designed to make your resume visually appealing by allowing you to select from about 10 preset templates.  The site uses CSS to style resumes; Think WordPress blog templates. Unfortunately, I created 2 resumes and neither exported properly to .pdf.


VisualCV is an online resume tool allows you to include all the facets of a traditional resume, with add-ons like video, images, and links to your accomplishments. Think of VisualCV as Resume 2.0. VisualCV has incorporated easy-to-use job search capabilities and has simple privacy settings that allow you to control who has access to view your profile.

VisualCV could be a good tool for anyone working in a creative profession or consultants promoting their portfolios and client recommendations. You can download your profile to .pdf but, it will be branded with a VisualCV footer.

Overall, I like ResuWe the best because it’s thoughtful. ResuWe was created by recruiters that understand that a simple well-written resume is the way to go. Their service doesn’t let you use crazy fonts or insert videos or pictures. It only exports plain old MS Word docs. MS Word doc files are the standard and easiest for applicant tracking systems to upload and parse and frankly the easiest for humans to read too.  And, who doesn’t have the ability to open and .doc on their work machine?