For The Hiring Manager

Professional Recruiter Associates


Recruiting Top Employees for Small Businesses 

Last week, I met the owner of a small business that is undergoing explosive growth. His main concern was how to justify the fees for hiring employees through a Search Firm. The answer was simple, most small companies are not experienced in finding new employees, qualifying those they find, or keeping the interest level up, until the employee joins the company, which is often a significant delay. Without constant contact, the best employees will often find other opportunities, before they get hired by your company. Many employers don’t realize that, when they run an ad, hundreds of people will respond, almost all of them unqualified for the job.

More unqualified people respond in the modern era, because applying for jobs requires a click of a button, to submit a resume. Janitors apply for CEO jobs. Sales people apply for engineering jobs. Secretaries apply for Sales positions. Someone needs to take the time to dig through all of these resumes, understand who is correct for the position, who is qualified but not skilled at writing resumes, and who are the professional Job Seekers with a resume so perfect it could hang on a wall, but who can’t keep a job. Many of these candidates really don’t have the quality of experience when compared to highly qualified passive candidates. What is a passive candidate? Let’s explain it this way: would you prefer targeting an employee that is currently working in a similar position with one of your competitors, or those who were laid off 5 years ago? Recruiters are trained professionals whose bread and butter is keeping track of qualified people in their industry.

Recruiters track top candidates from their databases for years, contacting them when an opportunity arises. Search professionals know who is unhappy or happy with their current position, and who is open to a better opportunity. Running an ad on a job board, catches those who are hunting for a job at that moment, but not necessarily the candidates you would want to find to join your company. Large sums of money are spent advertising, and these advertisements yield unqualified people. It is like casting fishing net into the ocean, versus using scuba gear and a spear gun to target the one fish you want.

For over 15 years, I’ve been watching small companies grow into large corporations. Many of those business owners still remember the day I showed up at their door to help them. They call on me for special searches, to this day. The candidates I helped in landing their dream job have tracked me down now that they have started their own companies or have moved to a managerial position, ready to hire others.

Let’s go ‘Rambo’ on “Post and Pray”

In an excellent blog post titled Post and Pray: Gone and Hopefully Forgotten, Pinstripe suggests we erase from our minds the idea of merely posting resumes on websites and praying they get filled. But I say we never forget. I say we go ‘Rambo’ on the fallacy that “prayer is the answer”!

As an Executive Search Consultant who writes fiction (or am I a novelist who also recruits?), I’ve a unique perspective. I’m privy to stories in a number of industries that cross relate. One apocryphal story that seems especially appropriate in today’s economy is how the movie First Blood (i.e. “Rambo”) came into being. This was told to me by David Morrell the man who wrote the book on which the movie was based.  First, a question:  How much do you think David was paid for the film rights to the film that eventually grossed over $125,000,000? Did you guess $1M? $500K? Certainly $100K? Nope. He was paid $80,000 for the film rights for the film that resulted in a four-movie franchise that grossed over $726,000,000.

“How can that be?” you ask. “Did his agent rip him off?”

Actually, the agent more than paid for himself, but we’ll get to that later. The reason that David Morrell sold the rights for $80,000 (and was thrilled with that price), was that he made the deal in 1972. That’s right. Ten years before the movie was finally made. Columbia Pictures originally purchased the rights and then sold them to Warner Bros. The story passed through three different companies and eighteen different screenplays. That is ten years.

The geniuses in Hollywood may have thought themselves prudent for saving production costs on making the film. They also let inaction become the rule of thumb. They let a fantastic story die on the vine for a decade because they didn’t want to take a risk. Two of the companies actually passed on a $726,000,000 project (my pet theory is that those same individuals—banished from Hollywood—are the very same folks who later passed on the publishing rights to the Harry Potter franchise because it “just wasn’t right for them”). There are dozens of examples of this in Hollywood. Once an idea has been around town for a while, there’s little chance the film will get made. Everyone assumes it’s a bad idea.

What in the name of Orson Wells does any of this have to do with recruiting? With “post and pray”?

Well, I’m curious how many times otherwise well-run companies have gone with “post and pray” in order to avoid paying a fee only to miss out on the very best potential candidates. I wonder how many of those firms paid HR representatives salaries for weeks/months/years. These HR generalists were evaluating resumes submitted through their website that were nowhere near qualified, or perhaps qualified, but nowhere near the right fit. How many hiring authorities and C-level executives spent hours/days interviewing under-qualified candidates? And I know for a fact that a decent percentage of those under-qualified people were hired and ultimately let go before they ever contributed to the bottom line.

A top-performing employee typically makes his company many times what he or she earns. Is that multiplier 2x? 3x? 5x? If so then, each month that a vital position remains unfilled because of the “post and pray” mentality, money is being lost. Money that eventually dwarfs the size of a recruiting fee. In other words, every film Columbia Pictures and Warner Brothers released between 1972 and 1985 which made less than the $300,000,000, in a sense “lost” them money. When the big picture is examined, there can be no other conclusion that a search firm which helps its clients find and attract the top talent in a reasonable time, more than pays for the fee that is charged them, if only in opportunity costs.

Lastly, here’s something to consider:  A good Executive Search Consultant acts in a very similar way to a literary agent. They help ensure that both parties benefit by the connection. In 1985 when David Morrell was paid the industry standard half the amount ($40,000) for the rights to the sequel (Rambo:  First Blood II – that cost $44,000,000 to produce), he wasn’t as depressed as one might think. Decades earlier, his agent had apparently thought ahead and made sure that his clients retained the “Ancillary Rights” for anything produced from the book or film.

“Ancillary rights?” David asked his agent, when informed of the sale. “What are those?”

“You know. For the sale of things like lunchboxes. Action figures etc.”

“Lunchboxes? Action figures??? Everyone dies at the end of the book.”

“I’ve dealt with Hollywood before. Just trust me on this.”

David trusted. David profited. And so should you and your clients.

– Steve Prosapio


Facebook Remorse?

Will Gen Y feel remorse for their Facebook Pages?

When we think candidate’s Facebook pages, we’re thinking about beer bong pictures and other adolescent behaviors that tell us if the candidate has basic character and discretion. Don’t we?

We’re certainly not thinking about predictive analytics designed to guess the probability of disease, pregnancy and the health issues  like alcoholism and migraines.  But if you think about what’s going on with big data these days, why wouldn’t that happen?

Read this and consider:

Candidate A’s resumé rose to the top because of LinkedIn Expert, the social network’s high-end professional service. LinkedIn developed technology to data-mine resumés for specific qualifications. Candidate A’s research on trade disputes between Korea and the USA caught everyone’s interest at a top technology consulting company. That’s why her “3D Resumé”  rose up to the top of the candidate pile.

The hiring manager does this pitch:

“She’s what you need for the transpacific trade issues you had mentioned. Her dissertation speaks for itself, she even learned Korean…”

He pauses.

“But?…” Asks the HR guy.

“She’s afflicted with acute migraine. It occurs a couple of times a month. She conceals it, but our data shows it could be problemlatic.”

“How did you learn that?”

“Well, she falls into this particular Health Cluster. In her Facebook wall, she sometimes refers to a spike in her sensitivity towards smells — a precursor to a migraine headache. In addition, each two weeks, we see a drop in the number of words she uses in Facebook posts, her vocabulary diminishes, and her tweets, usually sharp, become less articulate. That’s an obvious pattern for people suffering from serious migraine. In addition, the Zeo Sleeping Manager website and the stress management site HeartMath — both now connected with Facebook –  suggest she suffers from insomnia. In other words, we think you can’t take her into the firm. Our Predictive Workforce Analytics Modeling shows that she will cost you at least 20% more in lost days and productivity. Not to mention the patterns in her Facebook posts suggest a 60% chance for her to become pregnant in the next 12 months, according to our predictive models.”

“Not exactly a 100% certainty, but OK, let’s move to the next candidate”.

You might think I’m exaggerating with this tableau. But the fictitious Company could be using existing large quantitative research firms, combined semantic and data-mining information resources such as Recorded Future. This Sweden-based company, which has a branch in the USA,  provides real time analysis of thousands of sources (news services, social networks, blogs, government web sites). The firm offers clients the ability to predict a vast array of events (see this Wired story).

  • Do we fully understand the impact of big data and HR? Probably, we do not. Are predictive analytic techniques that speak to the possibility of a candidate’s insomnia and migraines crooked cards?
  • Is it right or is it wrong?  This is a probability score index.  Perhaps this index was modeled to give you a productivity and “ability to complete projects on time” score rather than talking about health issues.  Perhaps, the ability to be creative is under scrutiny?  Would that be more useful to Human Resources?
  • What if one used a Psychology professional rather than metrics alone to give the hiring company access to plausible deniability?
  • We would guess that high-end firms that already use this type of service will be the first to try predictive analytics in the hiring process. Perhaps we will eventually see the many uses of analytics litigated out in the courts.

Beyond Job Descriptions

Searching for a new employee?

Look beyond the responsibilities and experience listed on your job descriptions. Think about the traits you valued in the employee who previously held the position or of other employees within your firm.

When interviewing potential candidates, have several team members sit in on the interview process to gain a better perspective of just who you want to bring on-board. Think about the person’s personality.

  • Do you feel they might fit within the company environment?
  • How well do they communicate?
  • Do they seem to embrace questions that are asked, or do they become nervous over something they weren’t prepared to answer?
  • Do they present themselves in a professional demeanor?

Some things you just can’t ‘see’ in a resume.


6 Rules To Get Your Resume the Attention It Deserves!

1. Basic Guidelines for Resume Preparation

a. Typesetting                                                                                                                                      You can use your own computer with word processing software such as Word or Word Perfect. The quality of this method depends greatly upon the kind of printer you use with your computer. A less desirable method is to use a typewriter. If you do use a typewriter, make sure that it is in good condition, and use a new ribbon.

b. Printing
If you have a laser printer attached to your computer, you can elect to print multiple copies of your resume that way. The quality of a resume which you type on your computer and produce on your laser printer should be excellent; almost as good as one that is typeset by a professional and reproduced at a nearby printer. Be aware that the typed copy on your laser-printed resume can “crack” along the crease if you fold it. If that happens to your laser-printed resume, mail them to firms flat in a “9 x 12” envelope.

2. Helpful Hints on Writing Your Resume

Start your resume writing process by listing your jobs and what your day to day activities are/were.

  • Write job descriptions in easy-to-understand terms, and as completely as space allows.
  • Organize these by your employer in the suggested format.
  • Next list all your skills, technical knowledge, and computer skills.
  • Group your technical skills or other skills at the beginning of your resume under a summary paragraph near the top of your resume. Be brief but be complete.
  • Finish with your pertinent education and/or training, seminars, work-related course work, etc.
    Include an objective if desired.
  • List “Under contract to” for any contract assignments you may have had.
  • Include total number of years experience.
  • Give security status, if any. If your security clearance has expired, include the date of expiration.
  • Include your name and page number on each page of a multiple page resume (except no number on first page).
  • If you want to use a better quality paper, consider a white bond paper with a rag content (available from most printers or paper supply stores). Rag bond, however, should not be used if you are printing copies of your resume on a photo copier (such as Xerox), as the letters may break up on folds.

3. Tips to Help You Shorten a Lengthy Resume

Have it typed by a professional typesetter.

Eliminate all extra spaces between lines (except between job assignments).

Use narrower margins.

Keep job descriptions to 3-5 sentences (especially for older positions).

If your “length” problem is due to an extensive number of job assignments, leave the oldest positions off and type the following at the bottom of the last page of your resume: “Experience from (date) to (date) available upon request.” Then prepare a “complete” resume to furnish only to firms asking for it.

4. Things You Should Do With Your Resume
Use “8-1/2″ X 11” paper.

List jobs in reverse chronological order.

Include both a permanent contact and present address and phone number. You may be contacted through a permanent address or phone, even after you have moved from your present address.

Make your resume as legible as possible.

Include your job discipline(s) near your name at the top of page one of your resume and as a title to each assignment.

Make your resume visually appealing, keeping your format consistent throughout.

Try to keep to a maximum of three pages (see “tips” if resume is longer than two pages).

Avoid much of the following: font changes, columns, italics, bolding, underlining, and graphics (see Resume Scanner Section).

Keep records of where and to whom your resume is being sent.
5. Things You Should Not Do With Your Resume

Don’t include hobbies.

  • Don’t include your Social Security Number.
  • Don’t use a “Job Objective.” A “Job Objective” tells the firms what you want from them whereas a “Summary” tells what you can do for them.
  • Don’t exaggerate your experience.
  • Don’t show salary or pay information.
  • Don’t offer explanations for leaving prior employers.
  • Don’t use your photograph.

Don’t use abbreviations (except those that are acceptable in the engineering/technical fields, such as IBM, CAD, E/M, etc.).
6. Many Firms Use Resume Scanners
More and more contract firms are utilizing scanners to input resumes into their computer databases. Because of that, new guidelines are required that will enable firms to scan your resume. Here are a few recommendations that will make your resume “scanner ready”:
Use white paper and black ink.

Don’t underline words.

Don’t use script or other fancy typefaces.

All letters should be of the same quality (no light or broken letters, no smudgy or filled-in letters, etc.)

Use adequate margins (at least 1/2″ on all sides).

Don’t hand write anything on your resume.

If using a dot matrix printer, utilize the best quality of type the printer provides (i.e. letter quality, dark copy, etc.).

Avoid boxes or unusual configurations.
NOTE: If you transmit your resume by using a FAX card in your personal computer, make sure you see what you transmit. Many resumes received in this manner, have problems (extraneous characters, missing copy, strange lines, etc.). Also, the format of the received resume is often different than what you think you are transmitting. Try faxing to a friend or local fax number so you can physically see what everyone else sees!