Last week I made a huge mistake. I did something that I thought I wouldn’t. I made a judgement call on someone, based on their resume – and I was very wrong.
I thought I knew better. You see, we’ve been in the recruitment space for 6 years – and I’ve been recruiting staff for over 25 years – so I thought that I was good at seeing beyond the resume to the real person.
But I was very wrong.
This week, we were recruiting for a assistant. Because of the circumstances and logistics (which is irrelevant to this story), we were using an external party to shoot through relevant candidates. We got a bunch of resumes from them and I did what everyone does – compared them.
They came in a variety of styles, some prettied up with graphics – some more basic. They all listed the work experience, qualifications and personal details. So I made a judgement call on what I saw – and pretty much discounted one right away.
This particular candidate had a background that was quite varied (my interpretation = not skilled enough in what we needed) then had, a few years ago, moved into a different field that was not office admin (my interpretation again = not relevant to what we needed).
I had already discounted this particular candidate, however, the recruiting team had already scheduled Skype interviews with all of them, so given it was only going to take a couple of minutes, I agreed to interview this candidate as well.
All of the candidates were great but the one I had discounted was fantastic and it was only when I got to speak with her and saw her real personality shine through that I realised that her enthusiasm, her warmth and her go-for-it attitude would be a perfect fit for our team.
So what are the lessons in this for me (and you)?
- Don’t judge a book by its cover (or a job seeker by their resume.)
- There is no replacement for seeing and hearing someone – or how they specifically respond to your questions.
- It’s very hard to put enthusiasm on paper – and, no matter how you try, there’s a limit to what you can convey.
- People make assumptions when doing their resumes. Some will get straight to the point, assuming that’s what you want, others will really “sell” themselves – again making assumptions. Just because their assumptions and yours don’t line up doesn’t mean they are not a great candidate.
If you’re a recruiter or hiring manager, here are the takeouts:
- People are more than their past work history or what’s written on their resume.
- Because someone doesn’t sell themselves well in a resume, doesn’t mean they may not be a perfect fit.
- Look past the pieces of paper – and use video or Skype to establish the person behind the resume.
- Workible includes video interviewing. #justsaying. 🙂 In this case, the use of video saved me from a big mistake!
And, if you’re a job seeker, here’s what you should know:
- You only have one chance to make a first impression. My advice – don’t hold back.
- Tell the reader of your resume why you can do their job – not just any job.
- Make your resume specific to the job you’re going for. Don’t reinvent your work history but highlight what in it is relevant to the new role.
- Focus on achievements, not roles.
- Have a personality – and let it shine through.
- Include short testimonials about what other managers or co-workers have said about you.