Sourcing Hacks – Are Your Hiring Managers Overthinking Resumes?

Does this Sourcing story sound familiar?

You conduct a targeted search for non-active prospects, reach out using your favorite medium, and get an excellent response. You cherry pick the best 3-4 that are spot on functionally, and have a terrific initial chat with each. You find all are sharp, strong interpersonally, and possess excellent business acumen. All is in alignment from their innate ability to functional capability. You get copies of your prospect’s resumes, and you even attach a few sentences about each in your submission email making the case as to why they should be considered for hire.

It’s a slam dunk, you congratulate yourself for your sourcing super powers and forward the candidates on. All is good…right up until you hear back from the hiring manager (HM) who has poured over the resumes searching for hidden clues that make one better than another…

You hear that one resume doesn’t demonstrate leadership and another one shows no proactive initiative and still another seems to lack intellectual curiosity. To finish this story, let’s assume these prospects don’t write resumes for a living, but even if they did, most of these takeaways are based on assumptions with no real evidence. Crazy…but all too familiar – right?

Let’s not forget that resumes began as a way to market ourselves, and have remained unchanged since the 1950’s. Yet somewhere in the last few decades resumes went from being career marketing documents to de facto career passports (thanks ATS!). When HM’s parse resumes beyond functional ability, knocking out hard won prospects, a shift is needed in how prospects are viewed. Let’s face it, determining leadership, initiative and curiosity or the like is pretty darn hard by reading a resume, but this happens all the time…

So what do you do?

I’m not sure about everyone else, but in my world sourcing is isolating, engaging, and assessing talent. I’m asked to present talent that is “qualified, interested, and available,” and to determine this I need to assess each…usually a 15-30 minute phone or Skype conversation.

To me, simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, so I focus on just four areas. Here is what I ask:

  • Why are they looking…and for how long
  • Why they want to work for us
  • What they want to do more of
  • What they are earning

The answers to these questions provide the prospect’s attitudes, interests, motivations and activity. This combined with where they work, their career level and functional capability make a compelling case for who to interview F2F or not. It demonstrates I actually spoke with them and that the conversation was valuable. The call may be 30 minutes, but I distill each answer to no longer than a sentence (tweet length is best). All four answers are added to the top of each resume as an “easy to consume” picture of the prospect. This is the only data needed beyond functional accomplishments to decide on whether to interview someone.

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As for resumes, those that know me, know how I’ve plotted to get rid of them for the last 20 years. I know I am not alone as evidenced by the amazing array of “creative alternatives” (click the link -the ResumeBar candy bar is hilarious!). Today with Social Media, we’re all playing the role of editor and publisher and the resume’s demise may be closer than we think…when you consider how out dated and inadequate the resume is – it’s not that farfetched to think someone somewhere is plotting to “Uber” it…I certainly hope so…

While we wait for that…by including the attitudes, interests, motivations and activity level of your sourcing prospects with (or without) a resume, you are sure to get more of your prospects interviewed and hired…

Good hunting!

K.C. Donovan

K.C. Donovan's motto is, “Live in the future, then build what’s missing.” He has a unique blend of executive marketing, recruiting, sales, and entrepreneurial experience that encompasses an eclectic mix of CPG, pharma, wine, hospitality, government and technology. A 4x company founder, has built businesses and teams of up to 200 employees as an internal VP/recruiting; managing partner (exec search); president (retained search); CEO (talent communities); VP marketing (CPG); director of sales (wine), owner/GM (restaurant). Previously he kept busy as a sommelier, firefighter, asst press secretary U.S. Senate, sous chef, field camera (ESPN), and a “door to door” insurance salesman. Currently, he is working on his next venture and is more excited about it than anything he’s previously created.