Accommodating the Renaissance Job Seeker

For the next few minutes, let’s take on the persona of a talented job seeker, based in North America, who is looking for a mid- to senior-level technical position. Let’s call him the “renaissance job seeker.” It’s been a while since he’s looked for a job, let’s say five years. The company he works for now was once a stable Fortune 1000 telecommunications entity where he enjoyed a growth career, but the company now is going on its second round of layoffs. Our renaissance job seeker is concerned about his job security and wants to explore other opportunities. As he embarks on his job-changing journey, this job seeker has many options to consider. Although not an expert in the area of recruiting, he’s absorbed a certain level of “job seeker know-how” from his experiences, friends, environment, and his own cursory research. This person is a “renaissance” job seeker because he knows there is more than one way to find a job or submit a resume. To begin with, our job seeker is armed with some general experiences. His company intranet has taught him a lot about using online systems for job bidding, as he’s moved three times into different roles at his current company. He’s also read a few articles in the Wall Street Journal and Fast Company about hiring/recruiting trends and some of the newer technology that is being used by cutting-edge corporations. When he goes to the websites of a few targeted companies, he easily finds buttons called “Careers” or “Join Our Team” where he can explore information and jobs at that company. His close friend got a job through Monster.com in just three weeks, and he knows he wants to try that site. These experiences and others start to form a loose job-seeking strategy for our renaissance job seeker. In this article, we’ll examine the success factors of three components of this strategy, from two perspectives: the job seeker’s as well as the potential employer’s. Then we’ll summarize by examining what can be done from a process or system standpoint to bring more success to both sides. Strategy #1: Networking Renaissance Job Seeker: He’s talking with friends, contacts, and anyone who might seem to be able to lend a hand from his PDA contact list. He’s using mostly email to save time. A few people respond that they may know of something available and ask for his resume. He sends a resume as a Word attachment in an email and marks his calendar to follow-up. Potential Employers: One day, emails start to pop into the inboxes of a few people at various companies, including a small software company, a state agency, a larger consumer-goods company, and a consulting firm. These emails are from our job seeker, who is looking to see if his contacts can hook him up with any inside information on job opportunities. Person A asks for the resume to be sent, and once they receive it, they forward it to the recruiting department and forget about it. When the job seeker follows up, they say that they haven’t heard anything back from “HR” yet. Person B sends him a link to go to their corporate website where they think there is a good opening and where he can apply directly online. Person C asks for his resume and submits it with an attached paper form as a referral into the recruiting department. In a few weeks it gets reviewed and filed in a drawer. Person D writes back and says there are no openings at this time. Success Factor: In this case, there is not much hiring going on at any of his special contact companies. His inside contacts don’t seem to have much influence or association with the recruiting department and his resume may be lost in the shuffle. Having his resume get into a system or in the hands of a hiring manager is inconsistent. Strategy #2: Job Boards Renaissance Job Seeker: Our job seeker has set aside some time to spend online. He’s got the names of some big job boards. He goes ahead and takes 30 minutes to build a profile in two job boards so he can apply to jobs. After that he, searches the database. It takes a while to really find something compatible, as the database is packed with similar-sounding positions and titles. But finally, he applies to five jobs. He also takes some time to research other job sites that hire “technical” professionals. There are so many out there. How does he choose? Without too much research, he zeroes in on a few and spends another hour applying to some sites, but notes he needs more information about which job boards are worth his time. Within a few minutes he receives some acknowledgements from two hiring companies that his information was received. One company calls him that evening. He does not receive anything from the others at this time. Potential Employers: Company A has certain job boards electronically connected to their ATS or HMS database. Our job seeker’s inquiries come right into their candidate list for jobs along with other internal and external applicants. An acknowledgement is sent out and his information is under review during business hours. Company B has separate accounts for different job boards. The recruiter for a particular job is on vacation, and since he has to go to the job board to review the results, he has not seen his information yet. Company C has a service that processes all job board inquiries into a central email box. They decided this year to only take out accounts on two major job boards. This service sends out an acknowledgement later that day and processes the information into the company’s system. Several recruiters see the candidate information, as they had auto-searches set to look for this type of candidate. One calls him that evening. Success Factor: Success here depends on what’s behind the job board and the process of the hiring company. In some cases the information is reviewed immediately in the context of the job, in others, it’s in a holding pattern. Some action is recruiter-dependent and out of the job seeker’s control. To cover all potential available jobs, the job seeker would have to know comprehensively which boards companies use, and he does not have that information. Strategy #3: Association Events Renaissance Job Seeker: Our job seeker heard about a local event where he might meet other people in his field. He thinks this may be more of an opportunity to network. Thinking ahead, he starts to get a paper copy of his resume together. He thinks his resume, in Word, looks good, but he updates it and adds his new personal email as well as some fancier bullet points. He takes a few copies with him. As luck would have it, he meets one of the contacts from his networking efforts. The person asks for his resume again and he gives him a paper copy. He also is surprised to find a few agency recruiters at this event and feels fortunate to meet them while he’s in search mode. He gives them his resume. He heads home thinking it was worth the trip. Later he receives a call for an interview. Potential Employers: His contact that now got his resume twice, once in electronic and once in paper, submits the paper to the hiring manager directly. The hiring manager calls him in for an interview, liking what he sees. The agency recruiters both take the resume and lift off some key data from it into their tracking system. They both call our job seeker for more information to fill out his profile in their systems and ask for an electronic version of his resume to be sent via email. Once they receive the electronic one, they intend to forward to their clients. Meanwhile the recruiter working with the manager finds out the manager is interviewing someone not in the system. They get a copy of the resume and process it in. A potential duplicate is found (because of the name, but the email is different). They determine that it is the same person and update the record in their system. Success Factor: Our job seeker’s paper resume seemed to serve two purposes: (1) to make some contact and (2) to go directly to a hiring manager. In both cases he had repeated the resume transfer process by delivering both in paper and electronically, which is inefficient for the job seeker, and probably frustrated some recruiters who were not in the loop. From the job seeker’s perspective, this redundancy may have brought him some success in this scenario. The company that checked the duplicate seems to have an efficient process of following up and getting candidates into the system. What can employers learn from this so far? So far, our job seeker has achieved some success with his variety of approaches including networking, job boards, and association events. As we can see, each method has loopholes in the process depending on the company being represented. But it’s clear that recruiting as a whole is still a patchwork quilt of many different systems and processes, and the average job seeker can get lost depending on what is happening behind the scenes. The more an individual company designs their process and systems to accommodate a renaissance job seeker’s expected actions, the more benefits for both the job seeker and the recruiting organization. Some areas that could help this equation are:

  • Clear inside processes that either get every resume submitted into the main system, or better yet, direct the job seeker to the Internet career site where their information can be collected in a uniform fashion and possibly even pre-screened effectively for positions. This technology could also provide a job agent to keep the job seeker informed of future positions.
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  • Clear understanding of job board strategy and technical integration of job boards if possible. Again, the goal is to get the job seekers into a central system as often and consistently as possible. Some job boards can direct the job seeker right to the company hosted job page, rather than being stuck on the job board itself. This requires, again, a central system to manage incoming candidates from various sources.
  • Finally, having a process and/or system to manage the paper that still comes in from various sources is a good idea, as job seekers are still networking and visiting contacts with paper in their hands. This can be done by using a resume processing service, manual entry, or communicating back to paper-droppers that they must visit the website.

Next time we’ll continue with our scenario and examine the strategies of targeted companies, agencies, and walk-ins.

Gretchen Sturm (gsturm@recruitsoft.com) is Knowledge Manager of Services with Recruitsoft, the leading provider of Internet-based recruiting solutions for major corporations. She manages the implementation, eLearning and product knowledge transfer for Recruitsoft's consulting services and global client base. Her career has focused on integrating technology into the full hiring cycle and establishing effective Internet recruiting strategies. Previously, Sturm managed the recruitment technology and online recruiting areas of the Unisys worldwide recruiting team and oversaw recruiting technology and sourcing for CIGNA Corporation's US-based operations.

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