Stop hoarding those resumes already!


Stop hoarding those resumes already! by Nina Merklina-Morrison

I’ve written about this a few years ago and it is interestingly still the case.

The technological boom of the 20th century profoundly changed how we live and work.  Entire industries were wiped out while others were dynamically created almost overnight.  Yet while technological upheaval raged all around, recruitment somehow remained…virtually unchanged.

This is not to say recruiters completely ignore technology, they don’t, because they can’t get away with it. It would be like an executive assistant clinging to a typewriter.


So recruiters have adopted technology and the new tools it puts at their disposal just enough to allow them to continue doing business as usual. There is a long list of rudiments that have to fall off already, but to which recruiters frantically cling to due to “tradition”.  And there are a few particular traditions that are way outdated but refuse to die. I am talking about Candidate Databases and Candidate Ownership.

Sure, recruiters tend to hoard😃

In the dark ages of the early of 90’s, KNOWING people was a big deal and capitalizing on your personal telephone book was the name of the game.

Back then just identifying the name of a CEO or a field sales manager involved lots of digging, breaking through triple-level secretary barricades, and employing techniques best described as espionage.

Personal contacts are no longer a commodity and no longer exclusive.

Nowadays, being a source of contacts does not mean much, and hasn’t for some time.  No longer can one hide behind their Rolodex, no matter how fat.

Once the Rolodex hit the cloud with LinkedIn and many other sources and social networks penetrated the business sphere, transparency increased exponentially and finding and reaching almost anyone became readily possible.

Previously the recruiter’s most fundamental tasks were identifying candidates (the more the better) and presenting them (the sooner the better).   Countless recruitment agencies were built around pushing large numbers of resumes to their clients in hopes that a few will stick. Hence  – the massive databases, guarded like Fort Knox.

Nowadays social networks allow everyone, not just recruiters, to know who is who in any industry.

However – knowing of someone is a lot different from contacting, engaging and selling them on an opportunity.

Being connected to someone does not mean communicating with him or her.  Getting a live person in real-time remains a real challenge – nowadays – perhaps even more so than before.

Employers To Recruiters: “Sorry, But That Candidate Is Already In Our Database”

More than once I have presented a great candidate to a client to hear this response:

“We already know of this person.”

Which translates to:

“We won’t pay you for bringing this highly qualified candidate because he or she is already somewhere in our applicant tracking system graveyard or has been previously bumped into by someone in their team on LinkedIn.”

Oh how many companies are guilty of that. Naturally, why to pay a recruiter for candidates that have been already identified by us? We know them! Thanks for the reminder.

OK, why is it then that this candidate was not approached internally for the opening?  Why has this person not been either dismissed as a candidate or hired yet?

This is wrong. This has to be gone.

Know Eric Schmidt? Great. Can you sell him on a new opportunity? Don’t think so.

These days recruiters rarely bring a wonderful candidate that no one in a client organization has ever heard of.

Demanding that recruiters find hidden gems is simply unrealistic and even self-defeating in a world where online resources put the names and histories of nearly everyone at anyone’s fingertips.

While the cloud made our resume databases irrelevant, our massive list of LinkedIn/Twitter/Facebook connections still means nothing if you can’t truly engage with them.


So who owns the candidate then?

The short answer – the one who engages and sells on an opportunity. This is probably one of the biggest values recruiters bring to their clients, and this becomes increasingly hard as people learned to efficiently defend themselves from the onslaught of incoming information.

Want quick advice on how to better engage? Here are a few:

  • Keep your network relevant. Don’t chase numbers, chase quality. It is better to have 500 contacts, which you can truly engage with, than 10K followers who don’t give a damn
  • Be relevant to your network. You will lose the opportunity to reach them if you fall off the relevance wagon. Be interesting. Follow the interests of those you need to work with.
  • Stay human, stay personal. Talk to people. Respond, thank them and keep the conversation going. In the world where every second tweet is another “freebie” to have you buy something, were carefully designed images replace reality, it is good to be imperfect. Goofy at times. And most importantly – reachable.

Once you hide behind a polished and well crafted image of yourself – no one is really interested in real you just because they don’t know you anymore.

In recruitment being human is a must and the key to being truly engaging to your network. And let this candidate database die already – it is merely a graveyard of resumes. Time to move on.



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