Pick 5 To Interview


Imagine for a moment that you’re the person responsible for looking at some job applications. You’ve got to pick some to invite into the interview process. If you’ve already applied the ATS software (Applicant Tracking System), the reduced pile in front of you already meet your stated qualifications. In other words, the key words you and Human Resources identified as must haves and preferences are already checked off. You’ve got a nice pile of winners here.

So having a pile of 10 before you on your right and 60 the ATS passed over on your left, you begin. Hang on a second, what are you looking for? If you’ve never had to actually go through this process of choosing people to interview, it’s not as easy as it sounds. If after all, each of these 10 applications have already surfaced as the cream of the crop, why not just interview the 4 or 5 on the top of the pile; random selection?

Well, I’m sure some employers do. I mean, it’s possible isn’t it? No one has to know what the person narrowing these candidates down actually did to select them. But for the majority of situations, what does that person do behind closed doors to pick their next potential employee?

Quick question before proceeding; how many readers don’t like the idea of some computer-generated software creating these two piles in the first place; the potential winners and the losers? I’ll bet a fair number of people would rather a human being look over their application rather than having their potential employment governed by a digital scan.

Here’s the thing about that software though; it’s programmed by humans to select the applications which on paper at least, most closely match the stated needs of the employer. That software selects and rejects solely based on what it was instructed to look for. If you didn’t know this technology existed before, you do now. Oh, and it’s not so expensive that only the big organizations can afford it. Like a lot of technology out there today, its come down in price, it’s affordable and it sure helps the employer when the alternative is having to set aside a huge amount of time going through more resumes and cover letters than they’ve ever received in the past.

Okay, so now the impartial and unbiased computer program has put these 10 applications before you. The next phase is choosing from the 10, the ones you’ll meet and make your interview list from. Most organizations set aside time for this process, and they might have to coordinate the schedules of the Supervisor, Human Resources staff, and a second person in Management. Just coordinating the schedules of these three people might take some doing, and they’ll need a couple of days perhaps to clear their schedules. Meanwhile applicants are waiting.

So whether it’s just you or you and one or two others, you’ve got these 10 from which to choose 5 to interview, as this is all time allows. So half of these will move on and half will join the larger pile of passed over/rejected applicants. By the way, no one in that pile will be contacted yet (if ever) to advise them they’ve been passed over. After all, you might end up going back to at least one of those who almost made it if none of these 5 you end up interviewing work out.

So now that human eyeballs are finally involved in the interview selection process, you and I need to understand one other thing. In addition to your eyes, you’re filtering these 10 resumes with some other things too. You’re applying your biases, preferences, assumptions, stereotypes, past experiences, gut feelings and knowledge. Still don’t like computer software? It doesn’t bring any of these to the selection process.

In the mind of the person selecting people to hire, they know the chemistry of the existing team this potential employee is going to join or lead. They have in their mind the personal characteristics they see as needed or desired. They might have a preference for someone who went to a particular school or who worked for a certain employer in the past. They might grimace at an incorrectly placed comma or run-on sentence. Then again, they may overlook grammatic errors and take that as a sign of authenticity, especially if the job doesn’t call for written communication skills as a top priority.

If the names are on the resumes before them, (some companies remove these from the applications so they eliminate human bias), these alone can potentially sway a person to choose or pass by an application. The presumption of gender too might be present. Is this a good thing or not? Perhaps an organization is intentionally hopeful they might hire someone from a specific segment of the population to better reflect the communities in which they operate. How could a gender, ethnic, age, or other characteristic dominated workforce become more balanced if such factors of applicants remain unknown?

You see it’s more complicated than just randomly picking a few or going through every single application received. This process takes time and expertise to do it well. While all this is going on, each applicant is wondering why they haven’t heard from the employer. What’s taking so long you might wonder?

After selecting those to interview and conducting those interviews, more narrowing done happens until one is remaining. May that person be you!

 

If Resumes Were Only About Key Words


More and more people are coming to understand that constructing a winning resume; one that gets you invited in for an interview involves ensuring the key words and phrases from a job posting are included in their résumé.

If that was all employer’s were looking for, you’d think they’d be receiving an extremely high percentage of such resumes, giving them the luxury of having many highly qualified people to choose from. You’d also think that if it’s just a case of putting these keywords in a résumé, anyone could consider themselves an expert by doing so. That’s not the case though; resume writing is a craft like any other endeavour, and there are those who are better at it than others.

This being the case, that resume writing is a skill; what would make some people believe that they can write one as good as anyone else? Especially if writing a résumé is something they only do when out of work and looking for a job. No, there’s got to be more separating those who craft resumes – and there is.

Your résumé you may recall from earlier posts, is your personal marketing document. It should therefore, or rather it must therefore, communicate clearly to the employer that bringing you in for a conversation will be worth their while. And by this, I mean that as their time is valuable (as too is your own), they have to perceive some benefit to be derived from meeting with you as a potential employee. Think, “How does hiring you benefit us?” and you’ve got it.

Many resumes fail to communicate this to an employer however. No, many resumes send the message, “I want to work for you so that I benefit in the following ways”. This message doesn’t appeal to an employer at all. Organizations aren’t in the charitable business of giving people jobs just so they can grow and learn new skills. Businesses have to be profitable, their workforces efficient, and how will hiring you achieve profitability?

So pull out your résumé – go ahead I’ll wait. You’ll find this useful trust me.

Okay so looking at the document, have a look at your stated qualifications. I would hope that what you have in this area responds to the stated needs of the company you are applying to. If it does, that’s good but that’s not all you need. Does each line stop there? Is that all you included? For example, if the employer says the successful applicant must have the ability to work well in teams, it takes more than just saying, “Team player”.  Maybe you said, “Work well with others” or “Work well in team settings”. Ho-hum, boring and pretty standard for a lot of resumes. If this is on your résumé, you don’t really think you’re making the best impression you could do you? Unfortunately, the answer for many is that yes, that is exactly what they believe.

  • “Work cooperatively with co-workers; self-invested in working towards common organizational goals, achieving efficiencies and maximizing profitability”.

The above has a lot packed in to that single bullet. First it communicates how you work with others; in this case cooperatively. Don’t assume this is a given. There are many people who work with others grudgingly, and although it may seem to an observer there is a team of six people in a situation, it’s really 4 team players and 2 others standing next to them working in their own silos.

The term, “self-invested” is an interesting term that stresses how the person is committed and motivated internally, without needing an employer to be constantly monitoring their activity. Self-invested people are not just present, they are present and engaged in what they are doing, taking pride in what they do. The rest of the bullet is just as critical. It communicates that you understand that achieving maximum profitability requires finding efficiencies; streamlining processes, looking for ways to get more accomplished requiring, speed, fewer distractions, less waste, commitment and a unified approach – ie. the common organizational goals.

Now imagine if your entire resume took what the employer is looking for and better communicated how hiring you will fulfill their needs and realize their end goals, and not just plop down your qualifications.

Take two resumes for a Cleaning / Maintenance position. The employer’s posting states that the job requires mopping floors, cleaning office areas. One resume states:

  • Skilled at mopping floors and cleaning office spaces

An exact match for the employer’s needs, but compare that to the 2nd resume:

  •  Proven experience mopping and cleaning office areas, achieving full compliance with Ministry Health and Safety standards; ensure offices are welcoming for staff members daily

In this second bullet, not only does the applicant have the required experience, they are demonstrating that they know WHY they do what they do and HOW the work they do contributes to the overall productivity of the organization. They get the big picture. Staff who walk in to a clean office start feeling good and ready to go. Staff who walk into their office any other way are immediately distracted, waste time complaining or making a report. Meeting Health and Safety standards keeps the staff healthy and at work, and not needing time off for illness. In other words, both employees say they can clean but one did a better job communicating they understand the big picture and how their role fits.