Monday, May 27, 2013

Who is worse, the job seeker that applies for a job without being qualified, or the HR/recruiter that spends 5-15 seconds reviewing a CV?

That is like asking who came first, the chicken or the egg?

I wouldn’t even attempt to address the age-old second question, but I would like to consider the first.

I am not sure how closely these facts of life are related to each other, but I do believe that in this day and age of Internet job sites, their association is an undeniable fact.

In the ideal world, job seekers would send their CV only for jobs for which they are fully qualified.  In the ideal world, recruiters/HR people would invest the time to read each CV in its entirety, in order to fully understand the capabilities of the job candidate.

Of course, in the ideal world, I would be so rich that the entire concept of job search would be irrelevant to me.

Enough of that, back to the real world…

Let’s look at this first from the HR/recruiter’s perspective (for instance, me :>).  I advertise regularly on Internet sites and social media forums for job candidates on behalf of employers.   As can be expected, I receive many CVs in response to my job postings.  At first I was surprised, but now I have become hardened to the reality that the majority of the CVs I receive are from people that do not even meet the basic requirements of the job as described in the posting.  In fact, I am convinced that many people send their CVs without reading anything but the job title.  So, what this means to me is that I need to do two phases of sorting, first to remove the completely unqualified people, and then from those remaining, to identify the most relevant for further consideration.  Certainly in this first phase of filtering, I go very fast, spending a minimal amount of time on each CV, knowing as I do that most are irrelevant anyway. 

Now, let’s consider this from the job seeker’s viewpoint.  When all you have to go on is a job posting, even in the best case, it is virtually impossible to understand exactly what the employer seeks, which “requirements” are critical and which are simply nice-to-have.  It costs virtually nothing to send a CV, neither financially nor time-wise, so it is always better to err on the side of sending and hoping for the best.  Besides, even when a CV is sent for which the job seeker feels there is a perfect match, the chance of getting a positive response from the employer hovers around the 10% range at best.

So, what we have here is a problem brought on by the nature of the medium.  I don’t mean to imply that the introduction of Internet job sites created the new situation of such a large number of CVs being sent, many not suitable.  I have no doubt that HR professionals from previous generations had the same complaints.  However, it is certainly true that when the job seeker has easy access to hundreds of jobs daily and can apply with the click of a button, the problem is exacerbated exponentially.

HR personal certainly won’t invest a great deal of time in reviewing CVs when they know the majority are irrelevant.  And job seekers have no incentive not to send their CVs as frequently as possible.

Is there a better way?

Consider this…  A general rule of thumb in the job search industry is that two-thirds of all jobs are never publically advertised.  This is generally agreed to be true worldwide.  If you stop to think about this, it seems counterintuitive.  If an employer is seeking job candidates, why wouldn’t they be advertising in as many public forums as possible?

The answer is that many companies come to the conclusion that having a recruitment process that includes filtering (via some combination of manual and automated process) large quantities of unknown people is not effective.  It doesn’t bring the results that they require, but rather a huge administrative load with a poor return-on-investment.

So, what do they do instead? 

Some may use placement agencies to do the initial filtering, meaning that candidates that are presented to the employer are only those that have been pre-filtered based upon their specific requirements.

However, informal networking (word-of-mouth) introductions play a huge part in the actual filling of these unadvertised roles.  And these entire interactions are completely hidden to those outside of the process.

One of my favorite stories told to me by a job seeker using our Israemploy website illustrates this point.  The person had seen a perfect job posting on our site, and sent in his CV as instructed.  He heard back nothing.  So, he decided to take additional action.  The company name was included in the job listing, so he used LinkedIn to find people that worked at the employer doing a job similar to his.  From LinkedIn, he introduced himself to a couple of these people, and was able to begin a conversation.  At some point in the conversation, as is not so rare, the person inside the company told the job seeker to send them his CV, and he would forward it to the HR person.  Remember, the job seeker has already sent his CV to the HR person via the job site.  Now, he takes the exact same CV, and sends it to his contact within the company.  The contact within the company takes this CV and sends it to the exact same HR person that has already received the CV via the job site.  The CV is the same, the HR person that receives it is identical; the only difference is the way that it is delivered – via a known/trusted person.  However, in this case that was the critical factor – because the internal person sent the CV to the HR person, the HR person treated it differently, and ultimately the job seeker was invited to an interview.

From this real world example, it is easy to see how networking benefits not only the employer, but also the job seeker.  This is the real (and oftentimes invisible) way that companies identify new job candidates. Job seekers must understand the significance of networking in the recruitment process, and take steps to insert themselves into the mix.  Without such awareness, the job seeker is guaranteed to be missing many job opportunities which can be perfectly suitable – and that is the biggest shame of all. 

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