Guest Column | July 17, 2018

Discovering The Gold In Candidates Requires Changes In Recruiting

By Sue Tidswell, CTG — Computer Task Group

Field Service Hiring

For most of the last 100 years or so, the traditional resume was the centerpiece of the job search for recruiters and human resources departments. The (usually) chronological listing of every job the candidate had held, along with the responsibilities and accomplishments in each position, reflected the often paternalist approach organizations took to looking at the “whole person.”

Today, that is no longer the case. As work in general becomes increasingly specialized, organizations are focusing more on candidates with the specific skills needed to compete in the global marketplace. In other words, they are less concerned with who someone is and more focused on what they can do.

This change, of course, is a challenge for recruiters since many candidates have not come to this realization yet. Recruiters still receive reams of traditional resumes which force them to dig through mountains of glowing but irrelevant language to find the gold they need.

That’s not the only change recruiters face these days, however. Here’s a look at the brave, new world of recruiting and what recruiters need to do to take advantage of it.

Focus On Skills

This is the main reason the traditional resume is dead. Organizations need candidates who have specific skills to fill specific roles, and recruiters are charged with finding those candidates. The more those relevant skills are highlighted up-front, regardless of when or where they were acquired, the easier it is for recruiters to match the candidates to the needs.

That doesn’t mean candidates shouldn’t include company names and dates worked in their LinkedIn profile or summary sheet. But that information should no longer be up-front. If it’s easy for recruiters to see the skills and experience that will make candidates valuable contributors to a particular organization, those candidates are much more likely to get selected.

The Search Today Is Online

Another reason the traditional resume is essentially dead is recruiters spend the bulk of their time searching for candidates online. For higher-skilled, professional positions, LinkedIn is where most of this search takes place. As recruiters we may go to other job boards for entry- or lower-level positions, but for executive jobs LinkedIn is the 800-pound gorilla.

Candidates Are Much More Passive

America is currently experiencing one of the lowest levels of unemployment in recent history. Fewer people are looking for jobs, especially in higher-skilled areas, meaning recruiters with positions to fill must go out and not only find qualified candidates but convince them to consider leaving a position they’re comfortable in for a new opportunity. That’s no easy task.

Yet it’s not just about skills. Recruiters must also find candidates who will be a good fit in a particular environment. For example, a highly qualified candidate with a Type-A or outgoing personality is unlikely to be happy — or productive — in a quiet environment such as a clinical laboratory.

This means after identifying candidates with the proper skillsets, recruiters must also look at hobbies and non-work activities, as well as have conversations with the candidates in order to determine whether there is a good fit. For that laboratory environment, someone who likes sewing or reading in the spare time is far more likely to find happiness than someone who enjoys extreme sports or going out to noisy clubs on the weekend. You can’t discover that from a resume.

Digging Deeper

This passive marketplace on behalf of the candidates also makes it tougher to find the hidden gems — the most qualified (and highly desirable) candidates with the deepest experience. They are often working at a competitor, have a thin LinkedIn profile, and little-to-no information about them on the organization’s website.

Recruiters will likely never receive a resume or any other information from these types of people. Instead, they must use their networks to reach out and learn who is doing this great work and how to contact them. This can be an aggravating, time-consuming process, but when it yields the result of bringing that highly qualified candidate to the attention of a potential new employer, it’s worth the effort.

Overcoming The Talent Crunch

Another recruiting challenge in the current environment is the talent crunch. Today, many open positions tend to be a result of a lack of talent to fill them. People either aren’t available, don’t want to move positions (or locations in some instances), or don’t have the training or skills the position requires. For many skills today, the unemployment rate is 0 percent, i.e., everyone who can do that job is already doing it somewhere.

One long-term way to address it is for companies to start working with colleges and even high schools to start training students for the position organizations will need filled in the future. This approach is essentially a throwback to the apprenticeship model, where a person received training on a skill in exchange for a commitment to work for the trainer for a certain number of years before branching out on his/her own.

This model can be highly attractive to students, especially if it ensures they will have a job after they finish school and won’t be saddled with a mountain of debt after receiving that training. Smart organizations that look at where their skill gaps are now, and where their employment needs will be over the next few years, can partner with educational institutes to create a win for everyone.

Striking The Motherlode

Finding and recruiting the right candidates has never been easy. But in the current environment it has become particularly challenging.

By understanding how the process has changed — and taking full advantage of the tools, technologies, and strategies at their disposal — recruiters can mine the gold and deliver outstanding candidates to the organizations that need them.