Asking For What We Want = Good PR
I’ve been noticing an unfortunate trend the last year or so. As the role of OFCCP becomes more prevalent in recruiting efforts in the US, and the number of candidates is increasing due to the economy, resume quality has been declining. There are a few reasons for this. Many older candidates are using techniques they haven’t had to update since the 80’s or 90’s. There are so many conflicting “expert” resources available on the web that don’t all reflect accurate resume and ATS searching trends that it is no wonder new and experienced candidates are confused and sticking to the “tried and true”.
But most disturbing to me are outplacement consultants and career counselors that are giving outdated advice to their clients about what employers are looking for in today’s flooded market in terms of resume construction. The problem is that these professionals have not been in a recent recruiting role in the last 2-3 years and are either unaware of or misinformed about how today’s OFCCP-driven recruiting efforts function. I realize that not every company in the US is under the geas of OFCCP compliance, but the number is large enough, and the sourcing/filtering techniques so widespread among most recruiting organizations regardless that it is a best practice for candidates to be counseled appropriately on resumes that show up on Boolean Search results. There are any number of conflicting opinions on sites such as LinkedIn answers, and I find that most of the outdated information is from those consultants and counselors.
It is imperative that we, as recruiting professionals, impart to our candidates and colleagues the information that we, and our hiring managers, want to see. Position-specific targeted information; statistics; job responsibilities and accomplishments; contextual key words; a Summary of Qualifications or Professional Statement that orients us to the candidate’s professional role, supported by a strong work history; a reverse chronologic employment history of the last 7-10 years. This is what most of our hiring managers ask for, this is the format that makes sourcing effective and allows us to give qualified candidates the best chance at being seen by a hiring manager.
As a sourcing professional, I admit that cover letters don’t capture my attention in an Applicant Tracking System. I will skim them, but I don’t have the bandwidth to carefully read through each and every one. However, if I am sent an email with an attached resume, I will always read the mail to see who this individual is and how they came to be in possession of my direct email address.
For *any* candidate writing a cover letter, I want to see something short, targeted, and informative. From my perspective, a boilerplate cover letter is worse than a generic resume. I want to know what position you are applying for; how you heard about it (i.e. did one of my colleagues or professional acquaintances refer you to me?) What is your specific experience that equates to *this particular position*? What is your availability for interviews and starting date?
Candidates are frustrated and the biggest complaint I hear from them and professional communities is “I submitted my resume and I never heard back.” I make every effort to try and counsel candidates at large about recruiting, resume construction, applicant tracking, and our profession as a whole. But I am only one recruiter out of thousands. If we all took the time to make that PR outreach, I believe it would ease the feelings of our prospective employees. If we ask for what we need, we might just get it and engender better feelings in general.