Monday, October 8, 2007

A Technical Recruiter's Perspective on Resumes

I corresponded recently with a temporary technical recruiter in Seattle, Washington who does contract placements. She shared her insights into the resume screening process -- very instructive for resume writers working with these candidates. She wanted me to note, however, that executive placements are handled quite differently. Temporary placement firms are sourcing for 10-30 jobs per day. She works specifically with IT candidates.

If your client works with a temporary placement firm, due to the high volume of job openings, the job she calls you about today might be gone tomorrow. That's not only due to the larger number of candidates out there, but also because contract recruiters (unlike contingency recruiters) are competing against other contract recruiters. ("I know if I don't fill the job with my candidate, someone like Kelly, Volt, or the like will get the position filled before me," she says.)

Here are her comments about resumes:
  • Candidates need to put their phone number on all documents and in e-mails. If you don't provide immediate contact information (and that means phone, not e-mail), you might miss your chance. And tell your clients to return all phone calls promptly. Candidates who call back a week later miss the boat. With 10 jobs to fill a day, the job isn't going to be there in a week, or even a few days.
  • Soft skills are important, but hard skills win interviews. What kind of projects have they worked on? What are their technical skills? Areas of expertise? It's not enough to say "good with people." What industry? What tools? What did you create? She wants "the whole alphabet soup." Linus or MS? Database or Web/front end? .net or Java? She'd prefer to have it in a grid to match against the job description. List the skill and the number of years used.
  • Don't use a two-column table if you know it's going to be imported into a database. You'll lose the formatting and then it just looks jumbled. ("If you're submitting it to a recruiter, please realize the hiring manager won't see your formatting," she notes.)
  • "I only give the resume 10 seconds. I read from the bottom up, looking for career history and how the candidate evolved. The hiring manager may be interested in the qualifications profile, but it's less important for me." (As a former resume writer and career coach, she said that's hard for her to admit.)
  • Length is less important than depth. ("Six page tech resumes can be fine, surprisingly," she says.) Follow the old adage: "Make the resume as long as it needs to be to make the candidate look credible and worth the money they are asking.")

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