I have found very educative the article “I Will Reject Your Resume If I See These 4 Things” by Hope on why organizations are having difficulties with hiring new people. An HR manager in it describes her motives to reject CVs. The list is incomplete, but one can notice how formality and stereotypes prevail over purpose and objectives. While the business environment changes and becomes more dynamic, HR’s way of thinking and approaches remain frozen for decades back. Let’s look at each thing a bit deeper.
1) Irrelevant experience
There is no better example of recruiting stereotypes than this. In my experience, the most common job advertisement is the one that requests one thing in the title and something completely else in the body. Sometimes one can find two, three, or even more jobs combined in it. We should ask instead whether the job ad, together with its job description, indeed matches the vacancy and the true need of the organization.
People have their skills, experiences, and attitudes. Both they can obtain in work. And also in some work unrelated activity — hobby, raising children, traveling, and many more. Many skills are interchangeable and applicable in many jobs and professions. When we add into such a mix an HR manager, a person with usually little or no education, and ask her to match people with positions, we can end up with a seasoned user experience guru being rejected, because it is UX that they are looking after. An attitude is often more important than all experiences, but it is the most difficult part to put into one’s CV.
How about other circumstances? If your profession is A, and there is only a limited number of companies offering such jobs, it may happen that you will get rejected from all of them. So you apply for a job B, which a similar to A. And then for a job C, which is less similar but still ok. And then, at some point, e.g. crisis or some disruption might occur, when you just have to apply for any job. There are also living situations when people prioritize different motives than building a career or searching for the best-paid job prospects. It is because suddenly their living priority becomes to get a job in a particular place (taking care of a dependable person) or in a specific timeslot (copy the schedule of children in school). The motive can also be relocation from a place where there are no possibilities to grow or make a meaningful living.
We can train somebody for nearly 70–80% of all jobs. If someone is rejected just on the CV because some inexperienced recruiter or hiring manager believes in a super guru and waits for him, it is a loss for both parties. The organization loses because waiting months or years rarely ends up in a miracle. Then they complain about how difficult it is to find people, even if tons of CVs arrive. They bury their resources in the searching process for a mystical “ideal”, while candidates that meet the requirements for 90% are at the door. It is indeed cheaper to invest in training and start working immediately. It is also a loss for the candidate. Rejection is unpleasant, and rejection from the last company in your area that can use his skills is even more frustrating. Sometimes even devastating, especially if one is locked in the area by the circumstances.
I am surprised by the number of people, who claim, they have sent out thousands of CVs. It is an enormous amount of work, time and money wasted. I just cannot believe they were “misfits” in so many organizations. Sadly, I see this quantity becoming normal, even for jobs that require higher qualifications.
„You failed the first test if I see typos.“, writes Hope in her post. In 2008, when I became in charge of recruitment, I canceled CVs entirely. If you desire to apply for a job or work with us, just let us know. If you want to send us a CV, fine. If you want to write a letter or a short message, fine. If you drew a picture, sang a song, or just called in. It is also fine. Let us know how you want to contribute, what you know to do, what you would like to do, and that was it. We could discuss it, and we might figure out a solution. Or not. A typo can happen. Not a big deal. If you are a higher manager, you should know to write, and the sea of typos may stop you. It is not that much about typos. Grammatical mistakes or poor written expression is a problem for senior positions.
3) Inappropriate lengths
„You’re applying for an entry-mid level job, and your resume is 3 pages long?“ And so what? „Changing a job couple of times?“ And so what? In my experience, many organizations prepare beautiful hiring ads. The candidate will discover that the company is a complete mess, once onboard only. No wonder people leave soon, even during their trial period. Most organizations I have ever visited do not have any career plans to help people understand their possible future options. And when they did, the progress was politically biased. It is because for many organizations the people are resources and costs. They love to speak about people as they are their most valuable assets, but they do nothing to keep them, nurture them and let them shine.
4) Poor optics
„I mean you added so many designs elements, frills, lines, and icons to your resume that it looks too busy for me to even read.“ An elegant example of laziness. Isn’t the purpose of the recruiter to bring the best talent? Or it is a job, where you sit on the chair, with your leg on the table, irritated by any request, and only executing your power. I expect the HR recruiter to be proactive. She will dig deep to find out and bring the talent and stay objective regardless of the design of the CV. In my experience, most people have difficulty expressing what the best is in them. It is the role of the HR recruiter to find it and help the organization acquire the best.
These are only a selection of stereotypes that contribute to helping HR recruiters to lose the war for talent. Unfortunately, they are not anyhow isolated excesses, but they are mainstream.
That is why I have started to organize the Agile Recruiter course. I want to help HR recruiters understand what their role is about. And equip them with some tricks and ideas to play with when they create their new approaches.
Michal Vallo dedicates to creating human and learning organizations as a precondition for Agile adoption. He shares his experience with HR departments and managers who are in desperate need of radical innovation. He has experience from both sides, which led him to create better recruitment practices and the course Agile Recruiter. Michal helps managers to understand agile techniques, benefit from their adoption and consequently radically improve organizational performance. Feel free to contact him if you need help with your HR department or agilization of your organization.