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Fighting Resumé Prejudices

Fighting Resumé Prejudices

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In last week’s blog, we shared advice from the inside on the types of things on a resumé that raise red flags for a candidate. Typos and spelling mistakes top the list but there are lots of things recruiters, sourcing & staffing specialists read into when evaluating candidates for a job. And if we are reading into them, so are our clients – the hiring managers!

While our impression of you may be affected by a number of resumé red flags, there are also many times when we are fighting for your candidacy. Our clients (hiring managers) often have what we will call ‘resumé prejudices.’ Some will be similar to the red flags we discussed last week, but many are quite different. Because we do this every day, we have knowledge of the industry and marketplace and follow the workforce trends of what is going on. We offer advice through educating our clients on how times are-a-changin, and that the historical way to look at a resumé may not hold true today. With recession recovery and increased job movement and temporary work on the rise, we all have to look at resumés a little bit differently.

To generate the list below, we polled our staffing specialists by asking, “What types of resumé prejudices do you continuously coach clients through to view candidates differently?”

  • Years/Level of Experience: We often find ourselves in a discussion of quality vs. quantity with our clients. Whether the objection is that the candidate has too many years or too little experience — sometimes you have to dive into the quality of the experience to decide if its a good fit. The length of time doesn’t always produce the same quality of experience.
  • Job Titles: Many times clients get hung up on job titles. You have to look at the size & structure of the organization and the role & the responsibilities of the job — titles can be deceiving in either way. “Don’t let a VP title scare you,” says Glenn our staffing leader. “Universally, titles are not always consistent and they don’t typically align company to company, industry to industry, and size of org to size of org.”
  • “Job Hoppers”: We are constantly coaching clients to focus on and understand the reasons why someone may have had several jobs in less than 10 years, not how many… Nine times out of 10 they are legitimate reasons (company closed, company relocated to another country, spouse moved, personal reasons, Leave of Absense (LOA), etc….). It’s also important to understand the market and realize that its much more common for people to move around and find flexible work arrangements as they look for the best fit, so “job hoppers” aren’t necessarily bad candidates like they may have been in the era of lifetime employment.
  • Unemployed: Clients frequently have ‘resumé prejudice’ against unemployed candidates. This is a great example of how we fight for candidates by empowering clients with the details of their transition. Just like the job hoppers, it’s important to look into why they have transitioned. We encourage clients to pay attention to a candidate’s experience, after all in the current climate there are lots of quality candidates who are unemployed. By looking at the experience itself, our clients realize that a good candidate is a good candidate.
  • EDUCATION! Sometimes people have had a successful career over thirty years and hiring managers are still critical about where they went to school, what their GPA was, if they went to college, or if they got a degree. Many times, experience will trump that. Education is clearly important but if hiring managers aren’t open-minded, companies may miss out on hiring some pretty great people!
  • Skill Set / Industry Experience: The obvious experience clients look for in candidates are those with the right skill set in the same industry. But you often come across candidates with the right industry experience but wrong skill set OR the right skill set in the wrong industry. We coach clients when the skill set and industry don’t match up and help them understand what’s the same and whats different by communicating transferable skills. Some roles translate into other industries, while some do not. It’s important to know which ones do translate so you can open up your candidate pool. The Pharma industry is the biggest example of this – clients will require industry experience but we encourage them to consider candidates outside the industry when the skills are transferable.

That sums up the common prejudices our clients have and the types of conversations we have to fight for applicants’ candidacy. As agents to the workforce, we really do have your best interests at heart. The more you can fill us in on your story and the reasons behind your career, the more we can coach clients to consider you as an all star candidate.

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