An algorithm deciding which programmer to interview? Permission to ignore resumes?
It had to happen sooner or later. Applicant tracking systems (ATS) were the first major application of technology to the decision about whom to interview. Now there is a new kid on the Siliconblock in Gild.com. .
A good article in the NY Times ties the paradigm of applying technology to applicant selection to Big Data and the emerging field of work-science. Already top companies are testing and using Gild's software: Facebook, Wal-Mart, Twitter and others.
The thesis is this: Traditional hiring of programmers for coveted employer brands such as Google and Apple has depended on credentials such as a degree from MIT or Stanford, work experience at another premier company, etc. Glid.com believes that talented programmers who may be as good or better are being overlooked because they don't have a degree from a top tech school or a prestige background. They have developed a technology to address this problem.
How do they identify promising candidates then? By applying Big Data analytics to recruitment and using ~300 variables to predict a valuable hire. Instead of looking at three or four factors, they weigh more heavily the actual programming work someone's done.
The NY Times describes the broader criteria this way: "The types of language, positive or negative, that he or she uses to describe technology of various kinds; self-reported skills on LinkedIn; the projects a person has worked on, and for how long; and, yes, where he or she went to school, in what major..."
Executives at Gild.com in an interview with NPR said that they have ambitions to apply similar technology to fields in which work is harder to quantify: teaching, community organizing etc.
Gild's vision aligns well with the paradigm shift going on in HR (human resources) towards metrics-based decision making about recruitment and new hire evaluation. HR increasingly is needing to justify its existence in terms of providing quanitifiable value to the business.
Takeaways for programmers and job seekers in general? If this early-stage tech company is a harbinger of things to come, jumpstart your online footprint now! Leverage Linkedin to the max, including work products (once you get the media feature), put up a personal website to provide even more examples of your work and its impacts, start now to build thought leadership on Twitter, and blog. In other words, be everywhere and anywhere recruiters might be looking.
It's hard for me to say this more strongly: If you're not branded online - with breadth and depth, you will not be ready for the hiring environment of the future. With the tremendous communication potential of the Internet, you have the potential to beat out other applicants with much more impressive credentials. Who doesn't want to be able to do that?
What are your thoughts on this trend? I'd love to hear.
Why the resume as ad? To borrow a phrase from the campaign, do the math!
- 141 resumes submitted for each job (way too low an estimate IMHO)
- Each recruiter manages ~22 openings at any one time (multiply times 141 for the number of resumes a recruiter has to process at any one time)
- Only slightly more than a quarter of recruiters use applicant tracking technology; the rest have to visually scan resumes
- Only 10 applicants on average are screened for a position *
So, do you think the thoughtful summary, job descriptions, and accomplishments on your resume are going to get read and that the material will prompt the recruiter to choose yours out of hundreds to be one of the 10 marked for follow up??
Here’s what I think, having been in the resume writing industry for 19 years now. Today’s resume – which has only 30 seconds to be reviewed by a recruiter – has to act like an ad. Look at an ad. What are some of the elements that make it work?
- A brand - something that makes it memorable, the way Coke's brand helps it compete against Pepsi and generic colas
- A tagline - to capture the essence or strong theme of the brand
- Large letters to help the main message stand out, with smaller letters and fine print for critical details
- A website to link to for more information on the product
- A quote from someone or a picture of a famous endorser for the product
- Color - eye-catching
- Unique design and font - an ad tries to attract visual interest
It is possible, and even desirable, for resume writers to amp up their resumes with some of these elements. One way a resume should be different from an ad, though, is that white space, although necessary, shouldn't own so much real estate that there is no room for descriptions of primary accomplishments for each position.
(Please note: only a stripped down .txt version of your resume should be submitted where there is a chance that it will be processed by an Applicant Tracking System. Use your highly formatted resume for human eyes!)
With those points noted, let’s take an ad's elements one at a time and consider how you would build some of its successful features into your resume:
- The brand you are looking for is your career brand/personal brand. It is your industry, function, value proposition, and differentiator(s).
- A tagline is a short phrase that serves as a quick handle for people to remember you by: “The technologist’s instructional designer.”
- Large letters: go for size 16-18 font for your desired position as the “title” of your resume and 14-16 for your brand and tagline.
- A website link, or LinkedIn profile if you don’t have a resume – with a link embedded in the text towards the top of page one.
- A quote from relevant third party to lend credibility, if you wish.
- Color! Since most resumes are viewed online (laptop, smart phone, tablet), any color you select will help that part of the text stand out; use it for your brand statement and perhaps the main contribution in each position.
- Font. Again, because most resumes are viewed online, you can be creative with fonts, design, and other visual elements, remembering to be more conservative for more conservative industries, such as banking, and more creative in marketing, design etc.
Click here to see examples of resumes that are a fast read with easy-to-grasp "reasons to hire." These are not extreme examples of the resume-as-ad and don't include every element of an ad, but they have enough to have attracted the interest of recruiters.
So don't hesitate to tap into the power of Madison Avenue to help your resume become one of the 10 selected by a recruiter for follow-up!
* Image attribution: Dell
** Statistics courtesy of HR Tech Blog
If you look at resume from the nineties or earlier you will commonly see objective statements starting off resumes. They would read something like this:
Objective: A sales job where I can contribute to a company's growth while continuing to advance my career.
Do you want to write this kind of objective statement on your resume these days? NO! This kind of objective statement is an indication that you have not kept up with the times. Even more importantly, recruiters - internal and external - don't care in the least about the benefits you will receive - only the benefits their organization will receive.
Why write this blog post at all, since most people know not to write the old-fashioned kind of objective statement? Because there are reasons why including an objective on your resume is absolutely critical!
1. If you don't say right at the top what position you are seeking - the exact title - the recruiter may not spend the time to figure out which of the several titles you've held - or some other - you are going after! You have only about 120 seconds to provide the recruiter with a "fast match" between your resume and the open job. Make it as easy as possible!
2. If you don't include the position title you are going after - even if you haven't held that one exactly - software used to process resumes will likely not retrieve your resume in a keyword search by a recruiter. And all your time and effort on your resume will be wasted! With 70% of large companies using Applicant Tracking Systems, you can't afford to leave out a critical title keyword!
Here are a couple of examples of ways to use objectives in contemporary resumes. Give your resume a heading, often a title. That's easy if you are a VP of IT and those are the only jobs you are applying for. But what if you've been an VP of IT and you want to apply to a CIO job? You'll want to be sure that title and keyword are prominently featured in your resume. Here's an example:
Targeting: VP of IT / VP of Information Technology | CIO / Chief Information Officer
Under that title, put your branding statement, industry, areas of specialty, or key selling points, whichever is the most strategic. But by including the word "targeting" and the exact position title you are applying for you will allow the reader to immediately categorize you as someone at the right level. Including both the title you currently hold and the title you aspire to also provides you with the critical keywords for electronic processing of your resume.
To make it even more complex, if you are sending your resume to a networking contact and tell him or her that you are looking for the top IT management position in a company, you have to do something more. Since the top tech person in the company goes by different titles depending on a number of factors - such as the size and history of the company - you'll need to cover the waterfront:
Targeting: VP of IT / VP of Information Technology | CIO / Chief Information Officer | Senior Director of IT / Senior Director of Information Technology
That way you enable a "fast match" when a hiring authority or recruiter considers your resume for a particular job and job title. You also have provided the necessary keywords to keep your title options open. Notice that I spelled out "IT" so that either "VP of IT" or "VP of Information Technology" will capture search engine attention.
We've devoted a lot of time in this post to a small number of words on your resume, but they are critical ones. So think like a time-challenged recruiter and like a computer to increase your chances of being considered for a job!
Image Credit: clouducation.wordpress.com/
It's amazing, though understandable, that so many people are pursuing job search strategies that are apt to yield no results.
The job search environment is more complex and requires greater sophistication to navigate than ever before. Here are 8 of the things you should not do to avoid getting stalled in your job search.
1. Give your resume to your contact list and assume you've done their networking
2. Failed to get your resume into the hands of the right people at all of your target companies
3. Spend significant time searching on job boards and company websites looking for jobs to apply to
4. Put your profile up on LinkedIn without attention to keywords and your personal/career brand and assume that "if you build it they will come"
5. Spend just a few hours per week on your job search
6. Do your entire job search from home without making appointments to meet with networking contacts and hiring authorities
The new job search is a social search - involving the use of Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook, among many others. These are places hiring authorities are looking for candidates. And they are places you can also create networking opportunities times 10.
The new job search is more competitive. Recruiters want 10 out of 10 of their requirements met. Hiring authorities can usually find someone who matches their needs on LinkedIn, which has become a Big Data resource for them.
That means there is a premium on alternative job search methods that will produce direct face-to-face contact with decision makers, a context in which you can pitch your value, not just be someone evaluated with a checklist. It also means that, to get results, you need to spend serious time each week looking for the right job.
The savvy job seeker of 2012 has mastered new skills that will hold him or her in good stead for now and into the future - understanding that new changes are sure to come that will require further adaptive skills.
The world of job search is a little like the current Republican race for the presidential nomination: the lead contender is constantly shifting. In job search, although networking has always been king, the ways to do it are constantly evolving along with technology.
While searching for a job and applying online through big boards was judged to be a worthwhile activity some years ago, now there are new big kids on the block: LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, in that order.
What do we know about how effective job boards actually are at yielding new hires? Richard Bolles in What Color is Your Parachute 2011, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, estimates your job board success rate at 4-10%. CareerXroads found in a 1/2011 study that 25% of hires from external sources come from job boards. Why the difference? One reason is that a lot of hires come from within a company or from employee referrals, so a correspondingly higher percentage of hires come from job boards.
Still, whether the number is the 1% (est. # of hires from Monster.com), the 4-10% or the 25%, spending your time on job boards is not the best use of your time.
However...you will still find many (most) of job seekers spending a lot of time on job boards. So what is the seductiveness of using job boards?
- It's easy. You can roll out of bed and open your favorite job boards and see some that look good to you. You don't have to pick up the phone and cold call or even call a networking contact.
- It's simple. The jobs give you title, often name of company, job description, requirements, and instructions for applying. You can form a picture in your mind of the job and of you doing it. You don't have to network your way into an organization seeking one of the hidden jobs whose names or requirements you may not know.
- It feels proactive. You can submit your resume to any number of positions and feel a sense of accomplishment (whether warranted or not).
- You can do it when you feel tired or discouraged. Job search is so hard. Let's face it. Networking, whether traditional or enabled by social media, requires enough moxie to actually do it. You may not always have the energy or the courage at that particular moment.
- Betting is fun. Yes, you say to yourself, the percentages don't look great, but I just might be one of those who gets hired this way.
I actually think these are all acceptable reasons to give job boards a shot, particularly the niche job boards or company job portals. Even though the percentages are dwarfed by the other, more effective methods, THERE ARE TIMES WHEN YOU NEED A BREAK. No one can be on their best game 100% of the time. It's simply not possible. Why not use the slack time to surf the boards and apply to a few jobs? It's a better bet than playing Angry Birds.
Just as the food police say that eating healthy fats should be a modest part of one's daily diet, so keeping an eye on job boards specializing in your function or industry can be a small part of a highly effective job search campaign. So keep networking and leveraging social media, but, when you need to, relax and do what's easy. Happy New Year!
I spent an enlightening hour attending a webinar offered by Jonathan Ciampi, a former executive at an ATS (applicant tracking system) company. He has started a new business, Preptel, to help job seekers increase their odds of success. He talked about how ATS works and implications for your resume.
Putting his input together with other information about ATS, I've compiled the most important things to avoid in order to optimize your resume for search.
1. Format: Do not submit a highly formatted resume electronically. Stick to a simple format or save your highly formatted resume as a .txt (ASCII) file. Most ATS will scramble tables, graphs, and graphics, defeating your purpose in presenting them. Take your beautiful, creative resume to the interview.
2. Keywords: Don't assume that it is enough to include the common keywords for your position, level, function, and industry or the ones in a job posting! Many ATS will identify as keywords the uncommon, unique-to-the-job-posting words or phrases in the job ad. This practice cuts down dramatically on the number of resumes retrieved for consideration by the hiring authority or recruiter.
3. Headings: Most ATS will only recognize the common headings: Work Experience or Professional Experience, Education, and sometimes Professional Summary. Eliminate creative headings such as "Career Highlights."
4. Sections: Extra sections - that is, those that don't have the common titles listed in #3 - won't be stored. So if you have information essential to your application, such as certifications, community activities, publications etc., I suggest you include it under the Education heading.
5. Contact Information: Leave it out of the Header and Footer sections. Put it at the top of page one. And do include both home and mobile phone numbers if you have them.
6. Process: Don't paste your resume into a field online. Rather, upload it if given the opportunity. Chances are better that the formatting will remain intact with this method.
7. Acronyms & Abbreviations: Don't rely on acronyms alone. Include the full language. For instance, don't use USPs for "unique selling points." ATS should process common acronyms correctly, such as BA, MA, and MBA, but may not process other tech and business acronyms right.
8. Keyword Use: Newer ATS recognizes keywords in proper context within a sentence or word group. Don't rely solely on a keyword list. Let the job ad be your guide about which keywords to use in context. You may still want to provide a keyword list at the end of your resume under "Education" to cover the bases.
9. Source: Don't neglect to indicate where you heard about the job. ATS tracks sources and ranks some more highly than others, such as employee referrals over the big job boards.
10. Job Description: Don't forget that the ATS software will be searching for the descriptions of your jobs. Many people have been leaving that out in favor of just achievements. Time to put them back in!
If you are like a lot of people, you probably wish that the resume you worked so hard on to make visually attractive and easy to grasp would be seen on the first pass. Unfortunately, it isn't even seen on the second pass. The resume you submit to most large companies and many small-to-mid-sized ones gets mined for data that then populates fields on a form that the HR employee or recruiter sees (not your resume). Your resume may in fact only be seen at the time of an interview.
One further thought on length. If you need to go longer to adequately communicate what you've done and integrate keywords into context, go ahead. The software doesn't care!