If It’s Worth Doing… Considering Resume Scanners, HR Generalists and the Contemporary Job Market

As an Executive Search Consultant, I spend a lot of time searching through multiple resumes for that one individual who best matches the position. Most professionals are highly skilled at their jobs, but explaining to interested parties, exactly how they do what they do, becomes their biggest handicap. Would you buy an expensive new automobile if the entire body of the car was covered in a half inch of mud? If the salesperson won’t show you what is under the mud, you will head on to the next dealership, as fast as your legs will carry you. That is the same thing that HR does when a resume arrives in their email. They will first take a glance to see if you are better than another resume. The other resume arrived at about the same time. If the CV is not up to standards, the HR professional will toss it in the trash, and go on to the next candidate.

There was a time where nice paper and a short description of your duties from each job was sufficient for getting your qualifications in front of the right people that were hiring. Many things have changed. Your next job may well be decided by a computer, which determines how well you wrote your resume and how easy it was to find it in an automated search. Every word matters, every piece of software you know and every kind of equipment you have used should be listed on the resume.

If HR is looking for a ditch digger, shovel should be on the resume even if most of the time you are driving a back hoe. HR knows a hole needs to be dug, and most don’t understand the equipment, but they will know they use a shovel when they dig a hole at home.

Old Billy Bob, (IQ < 100) only knows how to use a shovel; he’s been using it for 20 years… Billy comes up in the search where you didn’t. In fact, he is the only person that has ever handled a shovel in the whole database of possible candidates. Billy is going to get your job, unless you are more careful.

Take the time to write a list of everything you do in your current job. If the search string is for electric, it will find electrical. If you search for electrical, it won’t find electric, so use wording that will be seen in the most applicable searches possible. At the same time, correct sentence structure, punctuation, spelling and grammar are critical. Take the time to write the vita correctly. Tailor each resume towards the job description that you should have read carefully. It could make a $20to $50K difference in your next salary. It’s worth the extra time, care and patience.

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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

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What’s it all Worth?


A business coach who often coaches top executives told me this tale:

It happens quite often that when I coach top leaders, they end up realizing that while they have indeed achieved all the outward signs of success, they’re just not happy at work or in life. They have the corner office, company Mercedes, million dollar salary and stock options. But ask the right questions, and it turns out that many of them are lonely and lost. Their work brings them no joy, it holds no meaning and creates no positive, lasting relationships. It also takes up all their time and keeps them away from their family and friends.

One well-known top leader broke down crying over the realization, that most of his work life had been wasted on chasing money and power. Soon after, he quit his job and is now doing work he enjoys – at 1/10 the pay.

This begs the question: What is success worth, if it doesn’t make you happy?

The Dalai Lama once said:

I believe that the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness. That is clear. Whether one believes in religion or not, whether one believes in this religion or that religion, we all are seeking something better in life. So I think the very motion of our life is towards happiness…

All of this applies to your life work, and I believe that we are seeing a new approach to work emerge. Where previously work was something we did to earn a living, in the future, the point of going to work, is to be happy.

So should you just be happy and forget about success? This is where it gets interesting: Recently a group of researchers published the results of a meta-study. A meta-study is a study that combines the result of a lot of other studies done in a specific field, and this meta-study combined 225 studies in happiness that had examined the lives of 225.000 people.

The researchers concluded that while success does make you happier, there is an even stronger correlation that happiness will make you successful. Research shows that happy people are more optimistic, outgoing, likable, motivated and energetic – all essential qualities for business success.

No one really has to sacrifice happiness for the sake of success – a common assumption today. In fact, the opposite is true: The happier you are, the more successful you’re likely to be.

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Love & Work Part II

Who are you?

Hello, what do you do?

Just a few decades ago people had many sources of identity: Religion, class, nationality, political affiliation, family roots, geographical and cultural origins and more. Today many of these, if not all, have been subsumed by work. When you meet someone at a party, what’s the first question you ask? “So, what do you do?”

We are increasingly defined by our work. It’s what takes up most of our time. It’s where we get to employ most of our talents. It’s where we experience our greatest triumphs and failures. It’s also the basis for our standard of living. All of this means that when work is not working for us, we become subject to depression and anxiety, and that being happy at work becomes crucial!

Mind and Body

Being unhappy at work can make you sick and being happy at work can make you well again. This sounds like an unlikely claim at first, but it’s really very true.

Lancaster University and Manchester Business School performed a study in 2005 involving 250,000 employees which found that low happiness at work is a risk factor for mental health problems, including emotional burn-out, low self-esteem, anxiety and depression. The report warned that just a small drop in job satisfaction could lead to burnout of “considerable clinical importance”.

Mental stress symptoms like the ones found in the study also increase the risk of physical health problems including ulcers, heart problems and a generally weakened immune system. Martin Seligman found the same thing in his positive psychology studies, in which he concluded that optimists are healthier and live longer than pessimists.

So not only are people who’re happy at work happier – they’re also healthier.

Part III is coming up soon, stay tuned…

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Love and Work

The Wellsprings of Life are Love & Work, but in what order?

Man travelling for Work

When I got my first professional position, I worked a lot of hours in the name of success. I’d moved for that opportunity, far away from my friends and family, but that was fine: I didn’t really have time for a life. My main goal was excelling at work! There was no time for love and friendship, in this unbalanced existence.

After a while, I realized something: I was successful, certainly, and I made good money. But I was not happy. I was in fact feeling lonely. All I ever did was work. I decided it was better to work in a way that would make me happy. I cut back on work and started spending time outdoors, making friends and participating in sports. My life changed completely. Where my evenings consisted of commuting from work, some fast food and lots of TV, I now had new friends, interesting hobbies and I was in the best shape of my life. I also lost 20 pound from eating better and exercising.

Think about it: You will spend more of your adult life on your job than on anything else, except possibly sleep. Your work will take up more of your time than your family, friends and hobbies combined. Won’t it be nicer if that time is spent at a job that actually makes you happy?

The Role of Work in your Life

Thomas Hobbes said life is “nasty, brutish and short” and concluded that work is hell but we must endure it because we’re all sinners. We get our reward once we’re dead.

Maybe it’s time to put that particular view of work behind us.

Some people have the ability to have a lousy day at work and to then go home and be happy as if nothing has happened. I can’t do this. When I have a rough day at work, it ruins the rest of my evening.

It is easy to accept a job that makes you unhappy, because the way it changes you can sneak up on you very gradually. Think about it – did you use to be happy, outgoing and energetic, and lost that somewhere? The explanation could be found at work and many people find that having a job that makes them happy gives them energy and zest for life.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this article…

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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.
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Talent Management

How to Go About Predicting Performance in Talent Management

Employee PerformanceThere are problems in using “predictors” of suitability for open positions within a company. Hunter and Hunter (1984) showed that interviewing is one of the worst predictors of future job performance.  Using reference checks (.26), education (.22) or biographical data (.37) did not improve the odds too favorably. In fact, even the best predictor, test scores, came out at .57.  We could make the argument that in order to be able to best predict future job performance of a candidate, several methods should be used. Hunter, J.E. and Hunter, R.F. 1984. “Validity and utility of alternative predictors of job performance”. .Psychological Bulletin. 96:72-98

Others studies showed that structured interviews having a maximum validity coefficient of .24, which is certainly better. One of the most-embraced contemporary personality assessments, the Big 5, was found in Mount and Barrick’s 1995 study to have a coefficient of .18 for Conscientiousness. That is acceptable but not all that good.

In the USA, we can be worried about the legality of personality assessments in employment decisions. “Griggs v. Duke Power” found that personality assessments must show “a manifest relationship to the employment in question” and that it is up to the employer to show the relationship. In employing a several methods, you should conduct a job analysis to establish job relevance (as required by the Griggs decision, and by other legal precedents).  The appropriate job analysis should offer guidance to the right selection methods (such as test, interview, resume screen) as well as testing constructs (such as cognitive ability, conscientiousness, job knowledge). This job analysis is supposed to drive the selection methods and not vice versa.

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Biotech Industry

Professional Recruiter Associates works within a variety of industries. A large portion of our staff has worked in the Biotech industry in the past, and we are very familiar with the type of jobs and professionals that are involved in this industry.

Biotech Scientists at Work

Industry areas we have expertise with involve a variety of disciplines including Biotechnology, Clinical Trials, Renewable Energy Resources, and other scientific areas, which are used to develop technology that helps to improve our lives and the health of our planet. We have made placements with some of the biggest Biotech firms in the industry, and worked with biotech scientists and other scientists who possess a variety of different backgrounds. The scientist jobs available within these industries, are very specialized, and require recruiters to have a scientific background.  It takes a company which has extensive experience working with scientists in order to accurately source and place the right type of scientific candidate for biotechnology and other scientific industry positions.

Senior staff members at our firm were involved in technical industries as executives for many years before becoming Executive Search professionals. These areas include Scientific Instrumentation, Renewable Energy, and Biotechnology Clinical Trials.  We have developed networks of scientists with Renewable Energy and Biotech companies. We have biotechnology and energy  scientist jobs available consistently.

For a listing of all of our Job Orders in the Biotech Industry, feel free to view our website.

[button link=”http://profrecruiters.com/candidates.php?class=0″ color=”lightblue” newwindow=”yes”] Job Orders[/button]
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Our Recruiting Process

Here at Professional Recruiter Associates, we follow a very simple process in order to do our Recruiting. We separate it into 6 different steps.

  1. The first portion is what we called the “Information” stage. This includes us gathering information from the client as to what exactly they are looking for. We do this by researching the company, finding out about their products, their services, who do they do business with, how they like to do business, and a variety of other details which may not seem relevant but they really are. From there we find out what their “need” is. Everyone Company can use a Sales person, but what do they really need? It is our job to find that information out. From there we find out the details for the position, such as compensation, qualifications, location, and the objectives of the position. Once we have gathered as much information as we can get without being a part of the company who we are working for, we move on to step 2.
  2. The second step is to “Research”. This is different than gathering the information, because the research that we do is based off the information that we have gathered in the previous step. This can be anything from doing research on competitors of the company for which we are Recruiting for, to finding resumes using our various resources which match the information we have gathered for the position that we are filling.
  3. The 3rd step in the process is “Contact”. This includes taking the Resumes that we have compiled for the position and contacting the candidates. The candidates need to know what they are interviewing for, and we need to know if they are still interested in a new opportunity, therefore communication has to be made in order to determine whether or not the situation is right. Once we have found candidates who are interested, we have to train those candidates to understand the position for which we are having them interview for. It looks bad on the Recruiting firm as well as the candidates that we send if we do not prepare them for whats ahead. This does take time, and certain candidates are eliminated from the interview process if they choose not to take this portion of the process seriously. After we have trained our candidates and narrowed it down, it is time for step 4.
  4. Step 4 is the interview process. This portion is simple, we contact the Hiring Manager, and we set up a time for the interview between this person and the candidate that we have chosen. This portion can be very easy, or can take some time based on the type of schedules that we are looking at between the Manager and the candidate. Once the interview times are setup, we move on to the following step.
  5. The 5th part of the process is the “Selection & Negotiation” stage. This includes taking the offer that the Hiring Manager is making for the candidate and presenting this to the candidate in a way that they make the best possible decision for themselves. Obviously we would like to be able to make the placement right off the bat, with the first offer, but in a lot of instances this is not the case, sometimes the candidate needs more, or wants more, and would rather fight for more instead of caving and taking the first offer that comes into play. Realistically we serve as the middle man, due to the fact that we are providing the Hiring Manager a candidate, and most of the time they feel that we must present the offer to the candidate, sometimes, if they are really interested, they will offer it themselves, but this is quite rare. Once we have reached an agreement between both parties, we move on the final step of our process.
  6. The 6th and final step is the “Transition”. This includes assisting the candidate in beginning their career with a new company, and checking with them to make sure that things are going alright. You don’t want your candidate to be released shortly after being hired, because this does not reflect well on your firm. To be a successful Recruiter, don’t think that your job is done after the candidate is hired, we recommend that you contact your candidate even years after you have gotten them a position. You never know, maybe they have moved up in the company, and they are now in a position to hire, and you can get yourself another client, or perhaps they are unhappy and would like for you to find them another job. Either way contacting your candidates after you have found them their job is key, only positive things will come from doing this

Well there you have it, the 6 step process to being a successful Recruiter. It may sound like a lot of work, but it is actually quite fun. This process can range from a week to 6 months depending on the hiring company, and the candidates. If you enjoy working with people, and being a problem solver, being a Recruiter will definitely be something that you would enjoy. It is tedious at times, but it is a very rewarding career, and makes any future career choices seem much easier. Thank you for reading, and we hope that we were able to assist any Recruiters, and give any Hiring Companies a good idea of how we do things, and as you can see we have established a very successful and in-depth process over the years which will not fail!

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The main thing to consider to be successful in any part of business is teamwork. No matter where you work, you are going to have to work with a group of people to make a company successful. If you expect to be able to work alone, and you refuse to work with others, no company will want to keep you around for too long. Any successful business owner will tell you that the first and most important thing that a successful employee has to learn is how to work within a team.

There are certain Hiring Managers that will not even consider an employee unless he has proven that he has to be able to work within a team. Here at Professional Recruiter Associates, we have developed a team of Executive Recruiters who pool their resources in order to ensure business for the company. This allows us as Recruiters to share candidates, and to work on various placements together in order to fulfill the need of our clients quickly, and efficiently. Being as Recruiting is by nature a competitive industry due to the fact that it is generally commission based, any Recruiting firms who challenge their employees to work against each other do not last long.

One person can only do so much, and only has so much time and energy to spend on a certain project or order. Eventually, no matter how good you think you are at what you do, someone better will come along, and the key is to learn from this person, and work with this person in order to better yourself and the company with which you are working with. There is always that person at the office that chooses to flaunt his success in front of his co-workers, but eventually that individual always finds out that this will not get him support, but will cause his co-workers to turn on him, and if ever, this person does need their help (which he/she will), they will most likely not be able to get it.

Being in business for over 15 years in the Recruiting Industry, we have learned that working together as a team makes our individual Recruiters more successful, and therefore happy with their jobs, and makes the company as an overall more successful. We recommend this for any business venture, although we have used Recruiting as an example since this is what we do.

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