Recruiters’ Paradox: Recruiters That Rely on Resumes Miss the Best Candidates!

World class recruiters find “names” rather than resumes Make a note ? Recruiters that rely on resumes miss the best candidates! Why is that? When you are seeking the very best candidates you must assume that because they are excellent at what they do, that they are currently working. Happy, employed top performers almost universally do not have (or need) updated resumes. As a result… anyone that sends you an updated resume is very likely to be unemployed or a malcontent and thus is NOT an ideal candidate! Recruiters paradox #2 ? Requiring (or waiting for) an updated resume almost assures that you will not get the very best candidates! Most recruiters make having an updated resume a pre-condition to add someone to their candidate list. This is a serious mistake. Leading firms like Cisco have found that you can easily recruit candidates without resumes by using tools like ?profilers? (automated software that prompts candidates to answer questions about their skills and experience). World Class recruiters go a step further and put a high value on just capturing the names of the best in the field as a first step in building a recruiting relationship. Finding the names of the best in a field is the first step toward World Class recruiting! Why the best don’t have resumes:

At any one time less than 25% of all people have updated resumes and among top performers the number is often half of that. ?Michael Jordan? doesn?t have a resume and it would be an insult to ask him for one. The very best don?t have resumes because:


  • They are too busy and never seem to find the time
  • It would hurt their image (and ego) if people thought they had to prepare a resume or actively look for a job!
  • They let their ideas and their work sell themselves in their professional life so it is a strange behavior for them to list job duties in a resume format

So it doesn?t take a rocket scientist to see that if you rely on having an updated resume as a precondition to become a candidate you will exclude over 80% of the best candidates before you even start! Keep reminding yourself that the best performers are happy in their job and thus would have no reason to update their resume. Unemployed/malcontents are the ones with updated resumes. If you learn to avoid resumes?you will improve the quality of your target candidate pool. (Think about it. You are a top performer… and your resume hasn?t been updated in the last year, has it?) Identifying the best in a functional field is easier than you think: Because there are no ?hidden stars? in business or technical fields. With hard work, a working knowledge of technology and some ?out of the box? marketing tools you can build a database of the ?names? of the top people you really should be targeting. Finding names must be “owned” by managers:Identifying names is not a HR task. It needs to be done by managers and teams in each department, with HR acting as a coach. This is because relationship building with candidates requires the exchange of advanced ideas and knowledge that no HR person could reasonably be expected to acquire in this fast changing world.Learning and finding names are directly related: The ?name capturing process? has an added benefit in that it forces managers to define what and who is ?good? is in their field! When managers and employees make contacts with the ?names? they also ask the individual about upcoming problems, best learning sources and the best solutions. Relationship recruiting forces our managers to keep in touch with those that can teach us a lot. The name “capturer’s” toolkit ? Try some of these tools and then refine your approach as you get more experience in the capture game. Remember the one with the best list of names ?wins!? After capturing the names the next step is building a relationship with them. I call that process relationship recruiting.

  • Ask everyone when they talk to other professionals (while benchmarking, at conferences, through e-mails etc.) to ?capture the names? of people that are impressive. Have them keep a log or just write it on their calendar for later transfer to the ?best of the best? database.
  • When you find one great candidate also ask them:
    1. Who is your Mentor?
    2. Who is better than you are?
    3. Who do they learn from?
    4. Who do you mentor?
    5. Who is almost/ soon to be as good as you?
    6. Where/ how do you find the best in your field?
  • Use the Web to find the names of people with good ideas but avoid resumes posted by active job seekers.
  • When you ask applicants for their references capture them as well. References are also asked for additional names when they are called.
  • New hires from “target” companies are asked on their first day who else is good there and their names are captured. They are also asked who are good mentors, managers and trainers.
  • Key idea people from listservers and chat rooms/ newsgroups are identified. Occasionally questions are posted to draw them out.
  • The names of speakers at conferences are captured from junk mail brochures, AMA type catalogs, web sites etc.
  • Authors of articles, books and technical information pieces are captured.
  • Consultants we hire are asked for names. Consultants themselves are names to capture if there is a chance they may sometime return to making an ?honest? living (joke).
  • Headhunters we hire should be asked to provide names of any star candidates they come across (that are non-clients).
  • Individuals that were ?almost qualified? (or soon to be qualified) as applicants to our firm and finalists for positions that either didn’t accept or who didn?t get offers are captured.
  • Attendance lists at conferences are scanned in
  • Names from press releases and newspaper notices of promotions from target companies are captured.
  • People that write articles or are cited in target company newsletters are noted.
  • Award winners and runners-up at professional associations. Board members and officers are noted and they are also asked for names of ?up and comers? in their professional organizations.
  • Buy targeted direct mail lists from associations etc that only include names of people with __ years experience or have this ____ title etc.
  • Give your employees a small reward (1-5 dollars) for capturing the names of ?stars? they meet.
  • Do the same with your sales staff. Ask them to look at suppliers and customers as sources of names.
  • The top 10% of college recruits (and interns) we identified but did not hire should be added to the list. Interns and recent grads are asked for the names of mentors, fellow students or great people they have met in informational interviews, shadow days etc.
  • University Alumni lists, award winners and speakers are targeted as well as anyone quoted in professional magazines or newspaper stories. Guests on radio and TV are added.
  • Our people that speak at conferences are asked to get the business cards of people that ask good questions.
  • Managers are encouraged to sign up for ?push? press releases, and customized news sources in order to capture names.
  • Individuals with WOW personal web pages on technical topics are added. People they visit our web sites technical areas are added to the list.
  • Talk to the conference coordinators for public seminar providers (like IIR, Linkage, AMA, IPQC etc) about names they have captured for potential speakers. They are masters at identifying the best.
  • Journalists and editors, on occasion, will help with names of people that contributed to technical stories.
  • Give away gifts at conferences and capture the business cards that are put in the hopper.
  • Hire interns or temps to surf the web for names you might have missed from the web pages of professional association, magazines, listserver archives, etc.
  • Detectives and “researchers” can be hired to capture names.
  • The best we hire are asked to search their e-mail address book / daytimer for names.
  • Reviewers and editors for technical journals are added to the list.
  • Use four11 or similar web pages to capture e-mail addresses for these individuals.
  • Capture the names of individuals with patents, awards etc.
  • Ask those that leave the company but that remain ?loyal? and in touch whom else is ?good? at their new firm.
  • Add someone with market research experience to your employment staff to help you design and refine your capture system.

After capturing the names the next step is actually building the relationship with these ?names?. That will be covered in next Friday?s part III of this series.

About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

Check Also

Hands Holding a Smartphone with Data on Screen

The 3 Powerful HR Metrics That Drive Action (That no one uses)

Most HR metrics are “so what metrics” because they don’t create a sense of urgency …