Today is another difficult, emotionally challenging day in the life of an executive recruiter. We have to eliminate a dozen executive candidates — people with hopes, dreams and, in some cases, the very real need to find a job. From that group of 12 we will ultimately eliminate seven more in the next round of interviews so we can present 5 vetted candidates to our client.
All of these people are qualified. Most are earnest, striving to put their best foot forward. My biggest frustration is that most in this group, like those before them, will be eliminated for self-inflicted reasons. And it all began with their resume. A better resume — which was in reality their first interview — might have improved their chances to advance.
In this search we produced a 35-page Position Prospectus. It outlined, in great detail, the opportunities and the challenges facing the hospital. The document emphasized specific needs of the client. We disclosed the corporate culture, the deliverables and the potential challenges for success. Our web posts were fairly detailed. So most people who have submitted their resumes, presumably took the time to read the criteria knew what we are looking for as well as the underlying issues.
Of the 70-plus resumes from potentially qualified candidates for this specific search, very few took the time to revise their resumes to address the needs of our client by demonstrating their expertise and success, in addressing these specific critical issues. The vast majority of the candidates just submitted the same resume they have submitted for every other job, or the one prepared by some expensive resume guru, without any thought to connecting the dots, and demonstrating their value for the employer. (Most qualified candidates we interview who came from outplacement firms are never told that customizing their resume can actually enhance their chances of differentiating themselves from the dozens, even hundreds, of job applicants. They have their new resume and believe they are good to go.)
For those of you who read this blog on a regular basis, I understand that today’s post must seem like a broken record; we have heard this before, you must be thinking. You have.
Now, from my perspective, here is a bitter irony. If you ask the average CEO what he or she thinks about contingency physician recruiters, the most common response you get is “they throw candidates at us with little or no vetting, little scrutiny about if our opportunity is a good fit in hopes that sooner or later something will stick.” However, that seems to be exactly what they do when they are searching for a job; they just submit the same resume without any attention to the needs of the client in hopes that it sticks. They hope they get a telephone interview and they hope, they get to meet the recruiter, and they hope… They hope the recruiter will sift through their assortment of job entries and figure out their value.
They are so optimistic. Please do not be optimistic. The job market is just too competitive — executives looking to advance and those looking to recover from a layoff or termination. Employers know this and they are asking for the best of the best.
This position, like the others we currently represent pays well. The hospital’s physical plant has great curb appeal and it enjoys the support of the community and the medical staff. They are profitable and have a goodly amount of cash on hand. Yes, there are challenges, but this could be the proverbial bird’s nest on the ground. This place has all of the elements from which great leadership legacies are built.
Yet only three or four of the candidates took the time to focus their resumes, emphasizing their experience and success, with the issues my client said were important.
The rest were rushing to sameness, hoping they would have a chance in the first telephone interview that got the recruiter’s attention.
That is a terrible job search strategy. We are like virtually every other recruiter — internal or outside firm. We are looking for a reason to include you in the panel. Don’t be uninformed about the changes in the job market, or worse, lazy — you just didn’t want to go to the trouble of revising your resume.