Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Crash Course in NOT getting "Screend Out"

This is a long article but CRITICALLY important. We received this from the Professional Resume Writers Association. Read on...

"Screen Out"
By Diane Hudson Burns, CPRW, CEIP, CPCC, CCMC

Career Marketing Techniques

The employee selection process is very much a screen-out process. Recruiters and hiring managers have a plethora of résumés to review to create the short list of candidates to be interviewed. So, at every opportunity, there are screen-out measures throughout the application and selection process.

Side note: This is also true for federal HR specialists and hiring managers. Federal announcements go so far as to clearly indicate to applicants that if they fail to accurately complete any part of an application process they will be disqualified. Which means, a highly qualified and otherwise desirable candidate may be removed from competition
simply because they failed to submit transcripts with an application (screen-out factor).

Screen-out Factors in the Résumé

Since the process from the hiring side is screen-out, HR specialists can easily move through résumés and discard any potential candidates whose résumé does not adequately meet the recruiter’s requirements for an open job order. For example, an employment specialist may shrink a large pile of résumés by screening-out for the following issues:

* Missing a clear objective: If the résumé is missing a clear target, the HR specialist will not spend any time trying to review the résumé in-depth to determine the candidate’s areas of expertise.

* Missing a chronology: Résumés that do not provide an employment chronology raise red flags - the HR specialist may wonder what the candidate is trying to hide.

*Typos and other grammatical and spelling errors. HR specialists tell me that they like clean, well-written résumés - this is also a reflection of how the candidate might perform on the job.

*Gaps in time: If the résumé has gaps in time that are not justified, recruiters may not spend time to contact the candidate to determine the reasons for the gaps in time.

*Missing dates: Lack of dates is a red flag for an HR specialist - again, what is the candidate trying to hide (age, gaps of employment, etc.)?

*Missing education: If the announcement requests a specific degree and the résumé does not indicate the required degree - it is easy for the HR specialist to move on to the next résumé.

*Missing experience: If the resume does not adequately express the number of years of experience required on the recruiter’s job order, then it is out.

*Missing skill sets: If the job order is for a Budget Analyst, and the résumé reads - Program Manager and does not describe budget analyst skills - it will not be a good fit for the job (even though the candidate may have stated “I can do the job”). The same goes for specialized skills like speaking a foreign language or having a specific Credential.

*Missing any required documents: Candidates need to be careful to follow the directions of a job vacancy posting closely and submit required documents, i.e., transcripts, letters of reference, a reference list, a salary history and salary requirements, samples of writing, letter of interest/philosophy, etc. Missing documents can easily disqualify a candidate - a requirement used as a screen-out factor.

Job orders are so very specific, that a generic, one-size-fits-all résumé is pretty much a screen-out. To bypass the screen-out litmus test, candidates who meet directly with HR or hiring managers, perhaps via a networking contact, may have an opportunity to express their skills and experience in person - and get screened-in.

Screen Out Factors in the Interview

*Appearance / Dress for success: Candidates need to dress according to the culture of the company; or very professionally. First impressions are formed in the interviewer’s mind in 30 seconds - and there are no second chances for first impressions.

*Poor body language: Interviewers I speak with tell me they like a candidate who provides eye contact; a candidate who does not provide eye contact is normally out. Interviewers also like solid handshakes - not wimpy handshakes. Irritating hand gestures, standing up and pacing during an interview, or placing feet on the interviewer’s desk are all screen-out factors.

*Being too much of a generalist: Just like a “general” résumé is a screen-out, so too is a ‘generalist’ attitude in the interview. Trying to impress the interviewer with a “jack-of-all-trades / I can do anything” attitude can be an interview killer. Hiring managers want to hire candidates who have professional expertise in a specific industry or functional area.

*Using the cell phone during an interview. It seems obvious, but candidates should be instructed to leave a cell phone in the car or be certain it is off during the interview.

*Barking dogs and screaming children during a phone interview: This scenario leads the interviewer to believe the candidate did not plan the interview time well; and it can make for a challenging interview/conversation.

*Telling personal information or irrelevant information: Interviewers want to learn about a candidate’s professional skills and competencies and how they can function on the job - interviewers do not normally ask about personal information, and some questions are illegal (age, for example - unless the position has an age requirement, i.e., law enforcement professionals).

*Making rude or biased remarks: Disparaging a former boss or company is a quick screen-out for interviewers.

*Describing weaknesses in detail. Candidates need to be careful to describe a weakness, that they can work to improve. If the weakness, however, is angry outbursts, and the applicant was fired from two previous jobs for angry outbursts, then that may not be a good example to use in an interview.

*Not having any weaknesses: One hiring manager that I spoke with said he asked a senior level candidate what her weakness was, and she replied, “I don’t have any weaknesses.” He said, “That pretty much ended the interview she’s out.”

*Not being a team player: Much of the interview is for the hiring manager to determine if the candidate is a team player - will the candidate fit in on the team and help the supervisor, department, and company be successful? So, a hiring manager told me that he asked a candidate who was being considered for a supervisory role, “Do you prefer to work alone or on a team?” The candidate replied, “If I had it my way, I would work alone in a corner, and never talk to anyone.” He’s out.

*Introducing the discussion of salary and benefits during the interview or before an offer is presented: Asking for money sends the message that the candidate is motivated for personal reasons - salary and benefits - as opposed to being motivated to see the company succeed.

*Not asking questions of the interviewer: Interviewers want candidates to ask questions - they want to know that candidates have an interest in the position and the company. Candidates may ask questions about what skills the employer wants the person in the job to have to be successful, or perhaps, questions about what initial challenges the candidate will tackle when he/she first joins the company. Other questions may be introduced as the interviewer
describes the position and the company in more detail. The wrong questions to ask, include, “Tell me about your mission.” Job candidates should do their due diligence and research the company in advance of the interview. Interview questions can be tough to answer - and can range from “What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?” - to - “When I call your current boss, what will he say about you?” - to - “Why are you interested in working for us?” - to - “Tell me why you are the best person for this job?” - and so on.

Summary

With recruiters receiving hundreds and sometimes even thousands of résumés for job openings, they are busy screening-out at every turn.

Candidates need to focus on screening themselves in, through the résumé and interview process, and carefully evaluate their résumé and interviewing skills.

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