Yikes...tread carefully (was RE: Resume format)

Subject: Yikes...tread carefully (was RE: Resume format)
From: Ruth Lundquist <RLundquist -at- prosarcorp -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 25 Feb 2002 11:39:21 -0600

<Delayed due to a problem posting to the list...for what it's worth:>

As another person who has been hiring people (but for less than 20 years), I
think you want to be very cautious about taking this (or any) advice:

>From my way of thinking, most resumes suck. I still see one page
>resumes, which generally tell me nothing.

And I see 3-5 pages resumes, which I don't have the time or inclination to
read. I'm hiring someone because **I'm busy**, not because I get my jollies
out of reading volumes of work histories.

>I just hired
>a marketing manager - I got 40+ resumes, including a dozen or so
>who thought marketing was sales. I interviewed three people.

In some organizations, marketing is sales. We hire "hybrids" because we are
a growing company who needs marketing first, followed by telesales, followed
by relationship marketing, etc., and we can't afford different people for
each of those positions at this point. We like generalists. All companies
are different. In your world, marketing doesn't = sales. You like
specialists. Besides, many job ads are wish lists. If you think you could do
the job, there's no harm in applying. Keep in mind that you should tailor
your resume to fit the description of the job, not simply to detail your
experience in another, albiet related, field.

>One person (not the one I hired) put their picture on their
>resume. Why doesn't everyone?

Probably because of laws in the US that state that hiring must be done
exclusive of race, gender, national origin, etc. Also because psychological
studies show that people who are not good looking are at a disadvantage.
People like pretty people. If I'm not attractive, why would I give you the
opportunity to rule me out for the job (you probably wouldn't even be aware
that you were doing this...it's a subconscious reaction to
attractiveness/unactractiveness.) If I'm a person of color, how do I know
you're not a racist who will throw my resume in the trash when you see my
picture? If I'm blond, how do I know you're don't think blondes are dumb? If
I'm smart, I know that a good HR screen will snip my picture off my resume
to avoid potential claims against the company, and my disfigured resume will
not present very well.

>Do you realize that when we have 40
>resumes, we start to get you confused, even after the interview?
>I sometimes do seven to ten first interviews, and the last one
>might be 8 or ten days after the first. It becomes a blur. Even
>more so when I call in another manager during the interview.

Very true. That's why I find it helpful to take 5 minutes after an interview
and jot down notes--perceptions of the person, any answers/comments that
seem particularly pertinent, any red-flags I noticed. This cuts down on
trying to remember who had which tattoo & it doesn't matter if I can put a
face with the name. I'm hiring based on their qualifications, attitude &
fit. Remembering what they look like won't help me determine those things.
Also, 7-10 interviews for one position might cause anyone problems. I try to
interview no more than 5 people at a time. That's all I generally have time
for. If there are more than 5 interesting candidates, I'll do preliminary
phone interviews & then weed it down to 5 at most.

>Do you understand how much I
>hate to have to fire people? I generally put it off until it is
>absolutely necessary. I told the sales manager today - every
>person out there that he hires costs the company 10 thousand
>dollars in direct costs, if they don't sell anything and he
>eventually fires them or they leave. They also cost double that
>in lost sales because they screw up good accounts that a good
>salesperson could sell.

Bad hires are expensive! Don't forget about opportunity costs--think about
what you lost by not hiring someone else who would have done a good job! Not
only additional sales to new clients, but expanding existing accounts, and
cultivating pipelines (excuse the mixed metaphor), and the loss of time.

>If you have a series of jobs that have lasted 6 to 18 months, my
>first assumption is that you lasted just long enough for your
>employer to give up on you because you are incompetent or a
>borderline case, or you quit the first time you experienced on
>the job conflict. You had better explain why you left those jobs,
>without my asking, and it better not be 3 versions of 'they took
>advanatage of me and didn't appreciate me.'

Interesting. You work in high tech and you still feel this way? I've had
several short jobs in high tech as a captive employee, certainly not because
I'm incompetent or because I couldn't handle conflict. In fact, it was
mainly due the meteoric rise and fall that characterizes many small, high
tech companies. If you haven't experienced that in this industry, consider
yourself extremely insulated from the realities of the vast majority. Many
of us have bathrooms wallpapered with stock options from these
businesses--they weren't worth the paper when the company couldn't meet
payroll. You make a good point that there are still people out there with
prejudices against frequent job changes, who can't fathom a reasonable
explanation. So it is good to be explicit, even to the extent of stating on
your resume that the company is out of business or is a fraction of the size
it once was.

>If the job you are going to do for me depends on your skills,
>you better list them in context and also in summary. At some
>point I am going to be reading that resume mighty fast, along
>with 20 others. It's marketing literature.

I really don't get this. How is a person supposed to write a lengthy (more
than 1 page) resume, that lists information in context & then repeats it
again in summary, but still keep it short and marketable so that it can be
skimmed? Do you have an example of such a document? I would love to see one
that meets these conflicting criteria.

>I wrote half a dozen emails to people who applied with the wrong
>credentials, or to offer suggestions for changes to their
>resumes. I still have't had time to email about 35 people to say
>someone else has the job - I see I need an automated workflow
>system for this.

I just don't have the time or the resources to respond to every applicant
for a job. If you're committed to responding to each applicant, maybe you
could simply do a generic "Thank you for applying. This position has been
filled." email to everyone & forget about trying to offer helpful advcie
about their resumes (I, personally, might tell you to get bent if offered
such unsolicited opinions, depending on the way in which the feedback was
offered. I appreciate feedback when I've interviewed for a job, but an
unsolicited critique of my credentials and resume? No thanks. Pointing out a
typo--that I'd appreciate.) Also, many people will apply for jobs even
though they don't have the credentials. **I would encourage people to do
this**, but to make sure they tailor their resume for the job. Many ads are
simply wish lists & many competent people change careers. You might have
that one credential that wasn't listed in the ad, but that really strikes
the hiring manager as valuable. Think about what you've done & how that
could be a great advantage to the employer.

>For each job, starting with the most recent, start and end dates,
>where the company was locvated, and what they do, even if I
>should know,

Excellent point. It may be a big company in an industry, but if I'm not in
that industry, I probably don't know much about it.

You know, the more I read on this list about hiring, the more I'm convinced
as a job seeker it's a crapshoot. What one hiring manager likes, another
would scoff at. What one hiring manager holds paramount, another couldn't
care less about. I think the best advice is to take the advice that makes
sense for you, create a resume that reflects you and your ability, and then
be relentless is your personal relationship marketing of yourself. Tell
everyone you know that you're looking for a job. Call & email old colleagues
to get the word out & to reconnect. Usually contacts made this way are a
little less anal about your resume than people reviewing resumes received in
response to ads. The criteria on which you are evaluated are simply
different in the personal marketing arena.

As the comments on this topic indicate, you are never going to create a
resume that works for everyone. Clearly this poster & I have very different
hiring styles and look for different things on resumes. What your resume
will do is allow you to screen employers. If the unwritten criteria are that
I have a resume of a certain length, with my picture on it, created by
applying paragraph tags in Frame, and using particular fonts, well then my
resume is not going to cut it. Good. I am probably not a good fit for that
company--they are looking for a different style than I have. That's fine. So
look at your resume as a tool to reverse screen as well as to promote
yourself & be very true to who you are and how you work.


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