The Smart Way to Hire (and it doesn't involve ATS)
SHOW ME DON’T TELL ME...Let’s try to keep it short...SHOW ME DON’T TELL ME...I don’t care what you say...SHOW ME DON’T TELL ME
Rush had it right (the hard rock band, not the conservative commentator). Employers are frustrated with resumes that make claims, and then fail to substantiate them. Resumes are the way employers traditionally recruit and hire their teams, so they must reflect actual results for all the claims the candidate makes.
Whether job candidates are recent college graduates or experienced professionals, they share a common obstacle to getting hired; employers must take it on faith that the skills described on their resume accurately demonstrates that they have the “right stuff” to succeed in the proffered position. Modern resumes have begun to focus more on specific accomplishments than they do lists of responsibilities; this helps, as granular detail implies honesty versus hyperbole. But as a former HR executive, I confess that lingering concerns that I may have just made a costly mistake accompanied every offer letter I wrote.
Resumes, after all, are marketing tools intended to showcase a job candidate in the best possible light, while references are essentially useless; it’s a rare HR manager who is willing to risk going on record for information other than employment verification. And candidates are fairly certain of a positive reference before providing a former manager’s phone number.
But there’s a new paradigm afoot in recruiting, one that I strongly advocate despite its potential reduction of my work as a resume writer, and that is to demonstrate competency instead of merely writing about it.
College students demonstrate the ability to learn new skills as well as the grit and focus employers want when they select internships that allow them to actually do something meaningful, as do group projects where student teams build a prototype, or write a white paper. Until they become obsolete, this is what belongs on students’ resumes, not their courses or GPA.
The key to the new paradigm is for candidates to first prove their value proposition. This concept has been around for a while; employers hire a likely candidate from an agency on a project basis as a contractor. The employee gets paid a pre-determined rate (albeit without benefits) for an agreed upon timeframe, while the employer can evaluate the candidate's skills. Both parties can determine if there is mutual cultural fit before either tying the knot or bidding farewell. No harm, no foul.
Career pivoters prove that they can succeed in a new field even if they lack experience by becoming modern day apprentices. An administrative assistant who wanted to work as an event planner used second-degree LinkedIn connections to score an informational interview with an industry icon who had no available open positions, but was willing to talk to her. Since event planners are busiest on weekends, and hers was a Monday – Friday job - she offered to work without pay during weekends. Not only did this demonstrate her capabilities, but it made her eventual pivot into paid work much easier.
Technology has added a new layer to demonstrating competency. Companies such as Google, Cisco and eBay have begun to recruit through tech firms such as HireArt, which provide a range of tests, work samples, personal essays and videos that allow candidates to showcase their skills and personality. This builds on a concept used by TaskRabbit, which requires its contract employees to submit a video of themselves as a method for vetting candidates.
Employers can alleviate the stress inherent in recruiting by relying less on what a candidate tells them, and more on what is shown them. Allow job candidates to prove themselves, then add a judicious dose of gut intuition to inform hiring decisions.
Are you an employer who wants to get recruitment done right? Or a job seeker who'd like help crafting a resume that shows, instead of merely telling? I'm Lynda Spiegel, founder of Rising Star Resumes, a job search and resume writing service. With 15+ years’ experience as a human resources professional, I leverage my experience to help professionals in a variety of industries achieve their career goals. Bragging rights earned as a Wall Street Journal Expert Panelist. Email Lynda@risingstarresumes.net or in the U.S. or Canada call (718) 897 – 5074