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Friday, November 14, 2008

Surviving the Resume Flood

The landscape for employment opportunities took a huge turn this year. Our office, like so many other executive recruiting firms, is being flooded with emails, resumes, and recurrent phone calls on a daily basis. You can imagine the deluge that is happening in the Human Resources offices of the attractive (and let’s be honest, even the not-so-attractive) corporations.

For some this is undoubtedly a painful time of transition. Sadly, many will need to revisit their expectations, including their compensation packages. In this pool, there are many who coasted along for years in their jobs. But companies can no longer afford the middling, the unimaginative, and the uninspiring.

Into the maelstrom were also thrown some very talented, dynamic executives. They were let go through no fault of their own other than being the object of across-the-board cost-cutting. Finding a new position will be challenging, but not impossible for these candidates. If you’re an HR manager, how do you find this needle in the haystack, the diamond, the potential rockstar? How do you select in a sea of ‘pick me’s’?

Start with state-of-the-art tools and know how to use them effectively. You also need a keen ability to spot talent when it comes floating across your desk. I’m no clairvoyant, but I do have over 20 years in the recruiting industry so I’ve become really good at sniffing out the B.S. (and I’m not talking college degree) from the real deal. As a headhuntress, when it comes to the hunt, I need to be merciless. I ask probing questions, demand realistic self-assessment and hand out blunt honesty. I do what HR managers wish they could do without jeopardizing the relationship with a potential “find.” I can take on the role of bad cop to my client’s good cop, without risking the company’s employee branding. (But I won’t lie or compromise anything told in confidence.) I leave the HR manager to present the company in the best light possible and only deal with candidates who have passed rigorous screening. I want my clients to be the hero. And I want the really good guy and gal candidates -- the smart cookies, the top talent to land on their feet.

Thinking outside the 9-5 box can also help. This can be an opportune time for candidates and clients to go for a test run; in other words, contract positions. While contract jobs do not come with benefits, which can be a huge dealbreaker for some, many times it is the first step toward a permanent position. A client who may not have the budget for a full-time hire, may be able to justify a project using a contractor. I have great stories about people we have placed this way with phenomenal results.

Don’t get swept under. Develop a strategy that doesn’t just have you surviving the flood, but uses this time to catch talent who under other circumstances may have passed you by.
Want to share your thoughts about how you are dealing with the resume flood? Please feel free to post your comments.

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