Monday, June 09, 2008

Getting Noticed by Employers

The other day I read this pretty old post on Skyler Reep's Blog - whose punch line was that your resume was the most important thing that was going to get you noticed by employers. I think that this is a misguided notion that is mostly believed by folks in HR or those candidates that still think that responding to a job posting on Monster is a serious way to look for a job.

Do you want to get noticed by employers? Well, let me share with you an executive perspective on recruiting. I DON'T care what paper your resume is written on. I couldn't care LESS about whether you put education first or last on your resume. Whether or not you have an "objective" listed at the top of your resume means diddly squat to me. What do I care about? I care that you are the person that my organization must hire to succeed. In fact, that is pretty much the only thing I care about.

If you are out looking for a job, you need to understand one very important thing. HR is your enemy not your friend. If you are responding to a job posting on a company website or on a jobs website, in all likelihood your resume will first go to a gatekeeper. That person is probably inundated by resumes - much as Skyler describes. If you need to try to impress the gatekeeper, or someone that fits the description that Skyler paints, then you will most likely have to resort to the tricks and tips that Skyler talks about. However, let me share a little secret with you. Gatekeepers are simply swimming in resumes, especially in tough economic times. I still remember an episode during the dot com bust when I advertised 6 open positions and our HR team was flooded by 1200 resumes. How useful do you think Skyler's tips will be in getting your resume noticed among 1200 others? Probably not that useful.

This is where I finally get to my point. If you want to get a job you need to outflank the enemy. You need to get directly to the hiring manager, and here is the absolutely best way to do it: get a personal reference. The best way to get an interview for a position you are interested in, is to get your resume personally handed to the hiring manager by someone they trust. If a trusted friend or colleague tells me I should interview someone for a job opening, the risk that I will decline is very small.

How do you get to the hiring manager? Networking. Yes, I know, folks hate to hear that word, but if you want to get hired (not to mention advance your career in the long run), networking is something that you have to master. Using sites such as LinkedIn is a simple method of finding people you know in organizations you are targeting.

I left a comment with the general message of this post on Skyler's blog, to which he responded by saying that he is a hiring manager and that every applicant, even his brother, must follow the rules in applying to a position. Well, more power to him. Personally, if I run across a good candidate (even if I bump into one on the street), I bring them in to interview. I am not looking for folks that are good at following rules or filling out web forms. I am looking for folks I can trust and that will make a difference to my organization. I don't know what to tell you except for: try what Skyler and I each suggests and let me know which strategy is more successful.


Skyler Reep said...


I'd like to clarify that the purpose of my article, "I Will 'Lose' Your Résumé" was not to tell my readers how to get a job. My purpose was to teach how to write a good résumé.

You are right that there are many ways to find employment. There are certainly better ways than dropping ANYTHING (even the best application packet in the world) off with the folks at HR.

That said, a lot of companies have rules that include the completion of an application and submission of a résumé. I defend that even in the 1,200-applicant situation you mentioned; a glossy, bound portfolio will get a second look.

Whether you want to apply through the traditional channels or get a recommendation through networking, the real question we should ALL be asking is do we really even WANT another J.O.B.?

Anyway, thanks for the review. I enjoy your articles.

The Other Biz Guy said...

I think both of you make excellent points, but as a hiring manager myself I have to agree more with Shadox -- because I never even LOOK at resumes. By and large the resumes are pre-screened for specific qualifications, and I recommend an individual (or group of individual) for hiring based on an interview.

Additionally, I work now almost exclusively with recruiters. That protocol didn't start out as my choice; I felt like a lot of them were over-priced and didn't exactly bring in a fresh catch every time. But now the company goes through marketplace-driven sites that are pretty cost-effective (Dayak is notably interesting, has a priceline-ish sales model for recruiting), and I've actually met a few recruiters that I used to know in grad school, so I've come around.

The point here? If you want to get hired, I highly recommend sending your resume to a recruiter and getting ready for that interview. The recruiter often fills in the networking blanks and acts as the personal go-between for hires and managers. The interview sells you to your new boss, who doesn't have time to compare paperstock on CVs all day. 5 or 10 years ago I would have been telling prospects to put effort into their resumes, but recent innovations in recruiting have made them much more common.

I'd send my resume to the recruiter with the biggest rolodex. :)

(ps I enjoy your articles too!)

Shadox said...


Clearly I am not knocking the importance of writting a good resume and I think that your tips for writing a good one are useful. All I am saying is that many folks think that by sending someone a resume they are, in fact, looking for a job, when reality is that that the vast majority of resumes barely even get a glance.

Biz Guy,

Working with recruiters is always a good idea. For one thing they can keep an eye on the market for you even when you are not looking for a job, and they are pretty aggressive in selling a candidate they think can make them money. The trick is getting the attention of a good recruiter. That might not always be that easy. A good relationship with a recruiter is one that starts years before you ever send out a resume.

Thanks for both of you for the kind words.

Skyler Reep said...

I had some new thoughts on the whole topic of job-searching, and I hope you'll give me another shot at the issue. Have a look at "Getting a J-O-B."