My company recently began a search for two managers and set up a nifty Gmail account to house the responses. In a short period of time, hundreds of resumes came pouring in. Our vice president, who wrote and posted the ad, spent hours reviewing the submittals, setting up interviews, and meeting with perspective employees. She sent me her final two candidates, neither of which was suitable. In an emotional meeting, she stated that her workload did not allow her to repeat the frustrating and time consuming process, complained about the quality of the applicants, and seemed nearly certain that one of them was a murder suspect she had seen on the television news. I offered to take over the search for the two managers. Having personally hired hundreds of people over the past 28 years, I approached the task with confidence.
By the time I accessed the swelling gmail account, there were 921 responses. It was daunting to make that first click and absolutely overwhelming to consider such a large number of applicants. After my first session, a handful of resumes were saved in a folder and approximately 215 were reviewed and discarded. Hours later, I was down to 700 applicants. I found myself looking for any excuse to avoid the process completely, willing to spend time doing anything but throwing myself into the black hole of click after click on resumes that included air conditioning techs, hospital clerks, cashiers, sushi chefs and journalists. Not one included a cover letter stating why, despite their lack of related experience, they were applying for a community manager position and what special talents they could bring to my company. It was clear that a lot of clicking was going on from their end, utilizing software that allowed their resumes to be blasted to any and every job posting on the site. The old adage about throwing spaghetti against the wall and seeing what sticks came to mind.
Many of the responses were barely in the form of resumes. My favorite so far is:
"Worked in a high paced,large volumes of wealthy and distinguished clientel! Professional attititude and conduct is what i am all about, I work very hard and thoroughly ,i am an efficiency expert!I am creatative ,outgoing very articulate, a team player!"
Finally I went to my folder and selected one candidate and dialed his number. He was overqualified for the job but his resume was beautifully done and his vast experience was at least indirectly related to our industry. We spoke on the phone for nearly 40 minutes and he was an impressive candidate. I reiterated, as was stated in the ad, that it was an entry level management position with tremendous potential for rapid growth within the company. While I knew he was overqualified, we would have to both agree to take a chance on the other and see if we were a good match. He said he had enjoyed every minute of our discussion and we scheduled an interview at my office. I recklessly stopped looking at the resumes after that, feeling confident I had found my manager.
During the interview, I offered the job at the high end of the salary range posted in the ad to which he had responded. He seemed shocked at the number and it completely changed the tone of the interview. It suddenly dawned on me that he had no idea which job he was applying for because he had forwarded his resume so many times by repeated box clicking. For a moment I drifted off in my mind to the days when resumes were received in the US mail with beautifully drafted cover letters and crisp, well organized resumes for consideration or dropped off in person by people dressed in business clothes with briefcases or leather notebooks under their arms. A good response was maybe 30 applicants with direct experience and the hard part was which qualified candidate was the best fit. He asked if he could think about it overnight and promised to get back to me this morning. I think it's even money as to whether he can even imagine coming to work for that kind of money when he made so much more in a position that no longer exists in today's economy.
All I know is that it seems backwards to me that the employer has to do all the work in the hiring process and the job seekers have only to click, click, click to circulate their resumes anywhere and everywhere, sometimes without even reading the entire job description. It dilutes the process for both sides which is a real shame with unemployment being what it is today.
I honestly feel that I would seriously considered any applicant, literally, who takes the time to write a personalized cover letter to my job posting showing at least minimal interest in my needs. But so far, not one resume has included such a letter. What seems perfectly clear to me is that resumes flying around internet space does not a legitimate job search make. A small effort to make yourself stand out to an employer would be worth it. And don't worry, you won't have to leave your computer to do it.