Want to hire the best? Meet the people!

Don’t rely solely on resumes.

(Reading time: 5 minutes)


The frustration of recruiters

Imagine the frustration of recruiters when their carefully selected candidates are rejected outright, without even a brief 20-minute meeting with the client. This common scenario is a source of aggravation for recruitment professionals, who often endeavor to persuade their clients to reconsider.

The unique expertise of top recruiters

Why persist in this persuasion?

Top-tier recruiters possess a unique set of skills and insights that many hiring managers lack.

These professionals invest considerable time in understanding a company’s culture, the specifics of the role in question, and the overarching needs of the organization. Their process includes posting job openings, meticulously reviewing applications, and considering both active job seekers and potential candidates who may not be actively looking for new opportunities.

After an exhaustive selection process and personal meetings with perhaps 50 individuals, recruiters present a carefully curated shortlist of three to four candidates. Dismissing these candidates without a preliminary client meeting not only undermines the recruiter’s effort and expertise but also signifies a flawed hiring strategy.

Invest the time to meet shortlisted candidates

Having invested in hiring a recruiter to guide the hiring process, it is very short-sighted to not invest the small amount of time required to meet short-listed candidates regardless of what concerns may be raised by their resumes. The recruited has short-listed them for a reason and it is to the client’s benefit to trust the recruiter’s judgment in making this selection.

The limitations of resumes

A resume is often an inadequate representation of a candidate’s full potential. Many individuals may not excel in resume writing or self-marketing. Some might be creating a resume for the first time in decades, while for others, this simply might not be their strong suit. This is particularly irrelevant for positions where resume crafting is not a critical skill, such as a machine operator role.

Moreover, we urge hiring managers to provide detailed feedback on rejected resumes to refine our selection criteria. Often, resume-based rejections are superficial, based on factors like job-hopping, lack of specific experience, or industry background. In contrast, feedback from actual candidate interviews tends to be more nuanced and insightful.

Enhancing role definition through candidate meetings

There is also a strategic reason to move beyond resumes quickly: the evolution of the job role. Through the hiring process, clients often modify the scope of the position, sometimes adding new qualifications and responsibilities, or even redefining the role entirely. This evolution often occurs more naturally and effectively when clients interact with candidates.

For instance, a company may initially seek an accountant but realize through interviews that they need someone with team collaboration skills and leadership potential. Such insights are unlikely to emerge without engaging with candidates firsthand.

Overlooking soft skills in resumes

Resumes typically fail to convey crucial soft skills such as interpersonal abilities, teamwork potential, and cultural fit within an organization. These attributes are best assessed through direct interaction. A candidate’s suitability extends beyond their technical brilliance since their behavioural fit within the company is equally vital.

Case study: one client’s journey

Consider the experience of one of our clients, who initially sought a controller for their growing business but realized through our consultation that they needed a general manager for a new venture. Despite initial resume-based rejections, we encouraged the client to meet with our selected candidates. The outcome was a perfect match, validating the importance of our comprehensive hiring process.

The importance of following the recruitment process

Our recruitment process, as we’ve shared previously, is critical to hiring successfully. This includes rigorous steps like reference checks and background verifications. For example, we recently encountered a candidate who resisted a criminal background check and tried to circumvent our process. Despite initial positive impressions, this raised red flags, leading to a justified rejection.

How we review resumes

When reviewing resumes, we begin from the bottom, analyzing educational background and job history. Each aspect, from tenure at each company to promotions within a firm, is scrutinized to understand the candidate’s career trajectory.

Recognizing red flags

Recruiters receive a large volume of submissions from candidates who lack the experience or qualifications that are required for the specific position under consideration.

Even among those whose backgrounds seem relevant, however, certain aspects of their profiles can raise concerns. We assess each case is assessed individually, with an openness to understanding the context behind each candidate’s career path.

A good recruiter looks beyond the resume and seeming red flags to identify the few candidates who may well be a perfect fit for the role. In many cases, only through a client interview will it be made clear that a particular candidate would make a great fit. This will often go undiscovered, if based solely on a resume review.

This is why we hope our clients will trust our process, engage with the candidates we recommend, and provide us with comprehensive feedback. The investment of a small amount of client interviewing time is critical to accomplish this. This collaborative approach is essential for finding the ideal match for both the candidate and the company.

Larry Smith is the founder and president of Kathbern Management, an executive search firm based in Toronto. Kathbern helps companies find the executives and senior managers who not only have the experience and credentials to fulfill their responsibilities, but also have the emotional and “fit” requirements that will enable them to be successful in a particular environment. Kathbern simplifies the process and, through deep research, brings more and better candidates forward than would ever be possible through a do-it-yourself passive advertising campaign.

 Learn more at www.kathbern.com, or contact us today for a free consultation about your key person search. Follow us on LinkedInFacebook, and Twitter.

Join our community to receive more monthly insights

Subscribe - Blog CTA