Resumes Everywhere, and Not a One Worth Hiring

Up to 25,000, 50,000, sometimes even more than 100,000 resumes are submitted to the larger and better-known organizations in the United States every week. Even back when we perceived that there was a “talent war,” firms were being inundated with resumes as job boards grew and candidates discovered how easy it was to apply to many places at once. Probably half of the calls and emails I get ask me how to deal with resume volume, and a recent informal poll of recruiters put resume volume and the inability to deal with it at the top of their concerns. Yet they have more or less created their own problem by only using half of a technology. While job boards and websites can collect information and spread it rapidly, recruiters have really only just begun to figure out how the technology can be applied on the receiving end, easing their work and improving the quality of the candidates. New Attraction Schemes It is probably no longer necessary for most organizations to post jobs on jobs boards or use any type of mass advertising. A broad spectrum of people come to the websites of most firms, and the only need is to learn how to convert these visitors into candidates. It will take good branding, careful testing, and creative ideas, but more and more we will see organization converting people who come to their websites looking for product information, pricing, support, or background information into a potential candidates. The money we spend on job boards and advertising can be much more effectively spent on the website ó and particularly the recruiting site. Candidate Interfaces When candidates come to most websites they are asked to submit a resume. Why? Because submitting a resume was a reasonable approach when people had to walk into your office or send a piece of paper by mail. Back then, volumes were generally reasonable and most people used some care in deciding whether or not to apply at a particular firm. Many resumes were addressed to a specific position in the firm that had been identified by reading a newspaper ad or through word-of-mouth. But in the job-board-enabled, web-based world we live in, this approach is a disaster. By simply asking candidates to submit a resume ó without qualification and without matching skills to your organization’s needs ó you are generating useless, low quality volume. Even worse, in my opinion, you are making a tacit promise to a candidate that they will be considered for some job and that they will get some sort of response from you. In reality, most resumes are never read and most candidates never get any response. The end result is frustrated, even angry, candidates and overworked recruiters. Reducing Resume Volume The first way to begin reducing resume volume is to stop using job boards or general advertising and start learning how to convert the visitors to your website into candidates. Once you have done this, the second step is to begin developing an information capture and screening mechanism on your website that uses the interactive power of the Internet. Rather than asking for a resume, you should be asking candidates for the specific information you need to decide if they are the kind of candidate that has the skills and general background to fit your organization. Once you have determined that they are capable and qualified, you should see if you have a current position that they would fit. If you have one, they should be invited to take a look at the description of the position and then asked, if they are interested, to answer additional questions that would further qualify them. All of this is done without you personally being involved. All of this happens through the website. It’s not difficult or particularly expensive to do. In fact, some of the better applicant tracking systems offer most of these features today. What is tragic is that most of the people who buy those systems don’t activate or use the very features that would ease one of their biggest concerns. Screening questions, short tests and quizzes, and online interviews are all available today. Most of the screening tools are legal, valid, and easy for the candidate to use. And they raise the level of satisfaction on both sides. The Issue of Personalization Many recruiters who hear me talk about this ask me if candidates feel that this approach is impersonal and unfriendly. My answer is that what we currently do ó which is to ignore their resume, avoid the phone, and fail to provide them with any information ó is far more impersonal and unfriendly than quick and honest feedback. If I am a candidate and I learn right away that there are no good positions for me, at least right now, I leave knowing that I was heard and that I had been considered. What To Do When There Is No Current Job Fit Very often, good candidates will appear when you have no opening and no prospect of an opening. With these web-based technologies you can stay in touch with candidates very easily. You can invite them to join a talent community by proving some additional information about themselves that will help you get to know them better. You can send them emails and newsletters, and always go to this community first when a position does open up. Organizations who have spent the time to create these talent communities report high levels of satisfaction and success. Learning to establish online communication and spending the time to develop letters and newsletters is far better used than the time spent in figuring our what to do with thousands of resumes. You should never again ask anyone for a resume. Rather, you should ask them to answer some questions on your website. This way you can get the information you need to make a decision on whether or not a person has the basic qualifications you are seeking. It offers you a space to market your company and the position to the candidate and it builds an automatic communication channel that you can use for months or years. And, best of all, both you and the candidate will feel a lot better about each other.

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Kevin Wheeler is a globally known speaker, author, futurist, and consultant in talent management, human capital acquisition and learning & development. He has founded a number of organizations including the Future of Talent Institute, Global Learning Resources, Inc. and the Australasian Talent Conference, Ltd. He hosts Future of Talent Retreats in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. He writes frequently on LinkedIn, is a columnist for, keynotes, and speaks at conferences and events globally, and advises firms on talent strategy. He has authored two books and hundreds of articles and white papers. He has a new book on recruiting that will be out in late summer of 2016. Prior to his current work, he had a 20+year corporate career in several San Francisco area tech and financial service firms. He has also been on the faculty of San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco. He can be reached at