One More Chance Santa…(Get It Right This Year!)

Dear Santa, It has been a year since my last letter. (I know, I know, “My how times flies! Ho, ho, ho – so what!” ) Well, in all candor, thanks for nothing! Last year I sent you a nice, friendly letter. I even thanked you for the lousy 3-speed bike you sent me when I was 12. How many “thank you” notes do you get? Not too darn many I would imagine. I sent my letter early enough for you to comply with my simple request. I did not ask for a new “Beemer,” a big screen multi-media entertainment system, or an oceanfront home on the coast of Maine. (Well actually, if you happen to know of a nice 3 bedroom…never mind, getting off track there.) I just wanted resumes. A nice big box of relevant resumes and useful resumes. I did not even want them for myself. I just wanted them so I could try to get my hiring managers off my back, screaming all day for the impossible: “Where’s the paper, where’s the paper?” It could drive you nuts, what a bunch of…ah, I mean…. I just wanted to support my wonderful hiring managers with their simple requests and their gentile urgings for greater acceleration of the paper flow. (Salts of the earth – each and every one of them.) So, what do I get from you?

  • Resumes of candidates no longer on the market. (“That resume was four jobs ago. Geez, is that still out there? Boy, that is something somebody ought to fix, isn’t it?” Augh!)
  • Resumes of candidates who insert keywords into their resumes, even though they have no experience represented by those keywords! (“Web Content Editor,” but has only worked as a “fry cook” at Micky Ds – fired twice for not being technical enough to turn on the heat lamp or read the directions!)
  • Resumes of candidates who require 3 months to relocate. (That includes the need for extra money to move their antique crystal life-size farm animal collection ? that’s part of the package. Right?)
  • Resumes of candidates who did not stay in a job long enough to get their new business cards delivered. (“Like, I could like tell, ya know, in just a few days, that like, ya know, I just was not going to grow there, ya know, I mean like truly grow, like. I mean, I know what I can be, but, like, ya know, I got to know I can like grow into like that where I am at the, like, the moment. Ya know.”)
  • Resumes of candidates whose lists of personal demands exceed those of the boss’s nephew in MarComm. (His own Jacuzzi ? my aching “flying buttress”!)
  • Resumes of candidates who think entry-level salaries should be competitive with Bill Gates. (“It is my personal plan to be retired by age thirty, even if I have to work 32 hours a week to make it happen!” Yikes!)
  • Resumes of candidates who consider proofreading a non-essential skill. (By the way, it is “their,” not “there.” Spellchecker is not God!)
  • Resumes of candidates who think I want to see their picture as part of the new age CV movement. (If I wanted your picture I would have a paparazzi stalk you with a camera!)
  • Resumes of candidates who actually think I care if they mountain climb, cross-country ski, and play tennis as hobbies (I love the ones who include “reading” as an activity. Why not include eating lunch and breathing?)
  • Resumes of candidates whose cover letters/emails include the note that, “I will call you in three days if you have not called to set up an appointment.” (Yeah, like my favorite country western song that says, “When the Phone Don’t Ring, You’ll Know That’s Me.”)
  • Resumes of candidates I already received from six other sources! (“I am very excited about the opportunity to work at {insert company name here} and have always respected your reputation. What does {insert company name here} do anyway?”)
  • Resumes that will not download without a six-hour lecture from my I.T. guru about interoperability issues and how “thick” end users can be when it comes to fixing problems that can be resolved with simple Microsoft 32 step sequential commands! (Hey, I am not the one carrying around a Swiss Army knife stuck in a pocket protector and calling it a “miracle tool.”)
  • Resumes that have sentence construction that even the “Rosetta Stone” would be challenged to translate! (I mean, I know I tend to use run-on sentences, but if by the end of page two you have not yet ended a sentence, here is a thought…PUNCTUATION!)
  • Resumes that just are not what I wanted, looked for, sought, paid for, or ? in any way shape, form or manner ? resumes that resolve the issue…HIRING!

<*SPONSORMESSAGE*> I know I must sound somewhat bitter, but you try my job for a couple of decades. My life sometimes makes falling down chimneys into homes with large angry dogs, stale cookies, and sour milk look like a walk in the park. However, those resumes you sent me last year were the pits! P?lease, I could have retrieved a load of resumes like that from anyone of the 16 paid sites and 275 free sites I currently wrap my openings in every week. I did not need a 300-pound dude flying 3,000 miles and landing on my roof in the middle of the night to drop of a box of resumes that were not even worth the paper cuts I got to reading them! (By the way, we need to talk about what those reindeer did to my roof. My God, what do you feed them?) Therefore, this year I thought I would try something different. I hope this helps:

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  1. I went to my hiring managers and I clearly outlined the process required to get a requisition approved. If I am going to take a candidate search seriously, I need no mental clutter or unfinished tasks. If it is important enough for me to “get gray” searching, get the requisition into the system.
  2. I further explained the need to write fresh and exact position descriptions that not only reflect the needs of the job, but the benefits of working in that position to insure we showed candidates the position’s professional appeal.
  3. I went to the websites of our competitors and made copies of their similar needs to determine if we were hitting the right “excitement chord.”
  4. I worked with my managers to fix issues in delays in reading and screening resumes to insure I get the timely feedback I needed to refine and improve the search.
  5. I did not rely on “automatic” searches, but rather, I continued to refine the keywords I used and other criteria based on a careful tracking of what was working and what was not working.
  6. I constantly investigated new resume resources to insure that resume flow issues were not the result of over-working the same resources. Or, to insure that I was not only using those resources that “everybody else” was using. After all, “the most popular” means the most “accessed” or “depleted.” Certainly the least original.
  7. I treated all the appropriate candidate resumes with the respect, courtesy, and the timeliness they deserved. I hoped that since “birds of a feather flock together”, so would quality candidates. By treating all I had generously, I hope they will tell “the rest of their flock.”
  8. I was not afraid to spend money in proportion to the importance of the need. The days of saving one thousand dollars on a “million-dollar hire” are over! For me anyway.
  9. I networked and went back into old files for people who may have become tired or restless in that job they took two years ago. I am contacting people who resigned after six months to insure all is I well in their new position.
  10. I have asked for more training resources for my researchers, screeners, and recruiters and hiring managers. Wasting one good resume is a luxury we can no longer afford.
  11. In addition, I have been open to any other ideas that come my way. It has been months since any person in my department felt comfortable citing the historical precedent of “not ever having done that before” as a compelling reason for us not to review, rehash, and reconsider the idea on it’s merits and not it’s past.

Therefore, Santa, you can keep your box of resumes this year. I still need them, but I finally figured out that resumes are not “presents.” In this market, resumes can come only as the result of careful, professional, and consistent excellence in recruiting and selling. These are the skills that separate the real recruiters from the “short timers.” So as always, Santa, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to everyone! And of course… Have a great day (and New Year) recruiting! Sincerely,

Ken Gaffey P.S. Maybe that “Beemer” would make a nice present after all, in lieu of a box of resumes. After all, I have been good! (Sort of…)

Ken Gaffey (kengaffey@comcast.net) is currently an employee of CPS Personal Services (www.cps.ca.gov) and has been involved in the Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration project since its inception. Prior to this National Security project Ken was an independent human resources and staffing consultant with an extensive career of diversified human resources and staffing experience in the high-tech, financial services, manufacturing, and pharmaceutical industries. His past clients include Hewlett Packard, First Data Corporation, Fidelity Investments, Fleet Bank, Rational Software, Ericsson, Astra Pharmaceutical, G&D Engineering, and other national and international industry leaders. In addition to contributing articles and book reviews to publications like ERE, Monster.com, AIRS, HR Today, and the International Recruiters Newsletter, Ken is a speaker at national and international conferences, training seminars, and other staffing industry events. Ken is a Boston native and has lived in the greater Boston area most of his life. Ken attended the University of South Carolina and was an officer in the United States Marine Corps.

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