BSides Tampa Information Security Job Search and Resumes
CyberSecJobs.com is a proud sponsor of BSides Tampa 2017, and producer of the Career Track for the event. Kathleen Smith with CyberSecJobs leads this lively information security resume and job search roundtable discussion with Kirsten Renner, Director of Recruiting with Novetta, Derek Porter HR Manager and Recruiter, and Mike Wolford Sourcing Manager at Hudson RPO, at BSides Tampa 2017.
Kirsten Renner: My name is Kirsten Renner; I’m the director of recruiting at Novetta. I’ve been in the InfoSec space for about 10 years-ish in terms of recruiting and I mainly look for offensive and defensive hackers, weaponisers, developers, all the things you’re not allowed to say mainly.
Kathleen Smith: And that your family’s down here and that’s why you’re here as well?
Kirsten Renner: My dad is the chief of police at Tampa Airport, he’s picking me up here this evening, we’re going to go to some belly dancer place. Who from Tampa can tell me what this is; anybody knows? Yeah, what? Anyway.
Kathleen Smith: Derrick?
Derrick Porter: Derrick Porter and I’ve been recruiting a little over seven years in fields from I.T to mining. Hired everywhere from VP to your local tech or customer service rep on the call center floor. I’m currently an HR manager for a small company here in Tampa. I’ve been in Tampa 20 years, originally from Chicago. And I guess my prize, my three beautiful children; my son and my two daughters and one on the way.
Kirsten Renner: Wow, congrats.
Kathleen Smith: Mike?
Mike Wolford.: My name is Mike Wolford; I am the sourcing manager at Hudson RPO, which means my specialty focuses on finding people who aren’t looking for a job and get them to consider my job. I came into recruiting like I said about 10 years ago. I run a team of sourcers in an RPO which means I have clients all over North America, about 12 different clients. My sourcers work on specific accounts, finding people. So the skill-sets that we search for can range anywhere from the people who work in the plants that make the cardboard boxes that Amazon uses to the scientists who research genetically engineered cancer treatments and pretty much everything in between.
Something special I guess or unique about me, I did write a book about how to find a job. Because when you are a recruiter and your friends know that you are a recruiter, when they go looking for a job, you’re the first person they call and you get a text and it says, “Hey can we go for lunch? Can I buy you lunch?” And I know how this conversation’s going to go. So I just took all the advice that I give my friends at coffee and I wrote it. And it’s not that long; it’s probably 55-60 pages because I want people to read it. And that’s something unique about me.
Kathleen Smith: One thing’s that’s really interesting, when you are in this space and you’re a recruiter and your friends or your families at holidays ask you to help them find a job and then you give them all of your hard earned advice and they promptly throw it out the window. So they are like, “I can’t find a job.” And I said, “Well, you know I did spend two hours with you and gave you some advice.” Using the advice that a recruiter gives you is hard earned advice, so please pay attention to it. So Kirsten, what drives you nuts on a resume?
Kirsten Renner: We were talking about whether or not to customize your resume to what you’re looking for. Don’t tell me the same thing over and over again. Keep your objectives short and please put the technical at the top. That’s what I hate on resumes.
Derrick Porter: I have to agree. One of the biggest things that I find on the resume is that people tend to write a book because they have so many years of experience and they’re trying to get it all out. And so when you have this, everything jumbled together, that’s what drives me crazy and I promise you I will not look at the resume at all. I will throw it out instantly if I see it jumbled up. I won’t even give it a chance because we are looking for professionals and you have to know your breaks, you have to know how to space your resume out and you have to just practice or ask questions on how a resume format should look. And if you are not asking those questions, you are not using some form of critical thinking, I’m not sure you’re the person I want for the job. I’m just sorry. That’s it.
Kathleen Smith: Most recruiters – there’s statistics out there; most recruiters are only going to look at your resume anywhere between 5 and 9 seconds. So if you’re going to make them read a novel, they are not going to read it. They are going to just move on to the next person that gives the information in a concise manner.
Mike Wolford: That was, teed me up. We have ADD, that’s consistent about recruiters. Some of us are psychology majors, biology majors. Some of us were accountants somewhere, engineers; we are all ADD. Universally, we have the attention span of a squirrel. So yeah, don’t write a novel, functional resumes, those need to go away. It needs to be chronological. Some people think it’s like a gimmick, we’re going to call you to figure it out; we’re not. We have 40 jobs to fill; we don’t have time to solve an Agatha Christie mystery.
And as far as the resume goes, if you’re trying to decide how to do it, put the most detail on what you’re doing now and then the further back in time you go, less detail is required. So I interned at Walgreens, there’s no bullet points there. That was a long time ago, I interned there, it’s there but there’s nothing about it. So further back in history, less detail, more of your detail about what you’re doing right now because that’s going to be most relevant to what I’m looking for you to do.
Kathleen Smith: Yeah good questions as you just mentioned, more detailed the recent experience, less detailed the further way we go in line of time. But what if that experience which was back then let’s say, three-four-five years ago is more important to the function that we’re performing now and it can be consolidated up on the top?
Mike Wolford: No because, here’s what the hiring manager is going to say, “They did that five years ago, what have they been doing since then?” Even if you articulated it and wrote eloquently like Shakespeare about what it is, when it gets to the hiring manager, they’re going to say, “Okay great, they did that in the past but technologies change, the environments change. Is it really that relevant versus what you’re doing now?” There’s still like – you got to know your audience.
So put it in there for sure and that’s relevant experience, like I was in accounting and finance, your career those years of experience are relevant to my job now but not as relevant as my next role. I’m the sourcing manager so what I did as a recruiter isn’t as important as what I’ve done as a manager now. Even though it gives me a basis for understanding my recruiters, what the recruiters that work for me are going through, and that’s important. It’s not as relevant as me taking the team and making our e mail response rates go from 10% to 30%. That’s much more relevant because that’s about my team building skills.
Kirsten Renner: So Mike, would you say – by the way what you’ve said, your last answer could be, we could tape record that, just play it for everyone; it was perfect on how to do the resume. But in a specific exceptional case like this, would you then take that skill from three to five years ago and put it in your summary statement, saying, “Previously did this, looking to do this again.”?
Mike Wolford: Yeah It really depends – again I think you can put it up top and highlight it but just remember, recruiters, when we search for you, we’re doing a keyword search. So if it’s the keyword, it will come back up and it’ll show on the top of your resume but that five to seven seconds, nine seconds, I don’t know how efficient other recruiters are. It usually takes me about 30 seconds; I’m slow and old I guess.
But if I get a resume and I get – the search engines, a lot of them highlight the keywords for us and when we look at your file, when we look at your resume, they’re highlighted. So the more of that that I see as a visual cue, I feel a little more comfortable about it. So if I see it up in the summary, but candidly I don’t get to that until second. I start, where are you now? What are you doing now? And what have you been doing lately? And then if I think that’s relevant, then I’ll keep reading.
Derrick Porter: I’d like to jump in on that. It depends too as well. For example, in the mining business, it’s expected, and I.T as well it’s expected that you’re going to work contracts. So you’re going to have a year maybe two when you’re jumping from job to job. Depending on the hiring manager, dependant on want they’re looking for and if you are able to convince as a recruiter, if you are able to convince the hiring manager to look at folks who you’ve jumped, that’s possible. And then, yeah, this is where the summary of qualifications or if you want to get smart in your objectives and make sure as Michael said, keywords, they are going to pop. If you’re posting on CareerBuilder or Monster that’s where it’s going to pop when I put, when I do my Boolean search. This is what you simply put the keywords in and I want to see everything magically appear that has that in it, in the beginning highlighted. It’s going to pop up highlighted for me.
So it depends on where you are with that. Does that make sense to a degree? So if for example if you are in I.T and you’re trying to cross over into something that’s say instead of hardware, you decide to switch trains and go to software but that was maybe years ago when you tried it out. The economy dried up and forced you into hardware or just say if it was the other way around. And all of a sudden at the top of the chain where you wish you were and you’re applying for a software position but all your software experience is two-three years ago, then yeah, you definitely want to hit the summary as much as you can with keywords. And make sure that you read the job description and understand exactly what we’re looking for with that because that’s going to be your way in. That’s your best bet.
And may I add that seven seconds, I do seven seconds, it depends. Again, I like to use that when I’m talking to my students, I also teach college courses at a local college. And one of the things that I say is it all depends. It depends for example, if I have 300 something resumes in the database, I’ve just all of a sudden just have wonderland in front of me. So that means that I don’t have to spend a lot of time with your resume. So if I have my keywords up, I can just jump, jump, jump, jump, jump, jump, and go through as many as I can. And whoever’s got the smartest, best looking un-jumbled resume that I like to see, those are the folks I’m going to pluck and pull out to the side. Would you agree someone?
Mike Wolford: Yeah.
Kirsten Renner: Sorry real quick. I submitted – I look for passive people too. They are the most valuable thing of all. And I was pulling up some very old profiles and forwarding them un-vetted to a manager this week for a project and the manager spent less time than the recruiters. So seven seconds is a luxury, he goes, “My brain hurts stop”. Because it was jumbled. So headline bottom line. Engineers are a level worse than me, headline, bottom line. That’s the attention span, get to the point quickly.
Kathleen Smith: What’s also interesting is, I hope you’re hearing that the resumes are being reviewed electronically. And it’s amazing how many times that we will look at resumes and someone has told you that you need to have it on really great paper and that you need to put italics and you need to put bolding and you need to put bullets, you need to put all that. You don’t know the kind of computer system that the recruiter is going to be looking at that resume on. So that computer system that is viewing your resume and showing it to them may take everything that is italics and make it all Zs. It might take bolding and throw off the spacing. So yes, it might look graphically very appealing and you think you’re capturing someone’s attention but you have no idea what the computer is going to do on the other end with that resume. And all of a sudden all of your great formatting and bolding and stuff is going to go down to the bottom and they are going to bypass it. So really be very plain, let the keywords and the contents speak rather than the bolding and the bullets and the italics, Ma’am.
Kathleen Smith: So is there a better I guess program that would be like, where it’s going to be more universal? Whatever you put in on your end is going to look similar when it comes to their end. Is there just – I know Word can be pretty tricky if I went from one place to another something like that.
Kirsten Renner: Some of the resumes are getting scraped, they are getting pulled in, they are going through a lot of different systems like she described. In fact when we’re posting things, we frequently, we have to take everything and paste it into notepad and then move it over. Plain text is best. Bring that fancy resume physically with you to the interview but there has really no value other than in that instance.
Male Speaker: Kirsten, you mentioned kind of an offhand comment that passive candidates are best.
Kirsten Renner: Yes.
Male Speaker: Why is that? To someone who doesn’t have a job right now, that may hurt.
Kirsten Renner: I’m not devaluing the people that don’t have a job.
Male Speaker: But why do you feel that, as a recruiter that a passive candidate is better than someone who’s looking for a job?
Kirsten Renner: A passive candidate, I’d like to correct my statement as if I were in politics, a passive candidate is not more valuable than someone looking for a job. They are sort of a golden prize for the recruiter because wouldn’t it be great for me to find you before you start looking or not have to compete for you with all the other recruiters? That’s what I meant to say; I’m sorry. Passive people aren’t better; they are just more valuable to the recruiters because they are not looking at so we don’t have to compete with all the other recruiters, yes.
Male Speaker: I have two basic questions. First one is formatting. So if you are working with a third party recruiter who says “Hey I’m recruiting for whatever, finance and accounting, send me your resume.” At what point is a Microsoft Word document preferable opposed to PDF so they don’t really mess it up. I think these days, they could break that either way or – that’s one question, the second question is on resumes do you include when you graduated from college or jobs that are over 10 years old.
Kathleen Smith: So the one thing I will just say from a PDF standpoint and our panelists can talk about that. Realize that you’ve heard them all say search. That they are going to be doing some kind of Boolean search. Well, PDFs are not searchable. So if you have sent your resume to an employer to have them upload against a position and then they are going to be searching their database for that, they are not going to be able to search your resume because it’s in a PDF format. So you’re going to want to keep it in a word document. Derrick.
Derrick Porter: Yeah, I tend to agree with that in and of itself. And now at the course of your applying for a position and you get there and it doesn’t accept the Microsoft Word for some reason, it’s asking for you to upload in a different way or the system crashes trying to do it; which obviously can happen. Then obviously you have to do the best you can and – hopefully if you’re applying online, you put the best type of information application. So hopefully that’s helping. Regarding the question on years for the school, I’ve been on the other side as –
Male Speaker: School or employment that’s over10 years.
Derrick Porter: I’ll answer both. I’ve been on both sides of it as an employment specialist for the department of labor some years ago. And one of the things I advise people is, leave out the year that you graduated because it tells your age. I hate to say that but it is what it is. And as my colleagues were sharing with you, the hiring managers are looking at this as much as I would love to believe all hiring managers were created equal, then do the right thing. Unfortunately as HR professionals, we’re there for a reason, to constantly make sure the company is seen within compliance with ADA. So we have to make sure that we are not having problems with discrimination. So I would say, leave it out just as a rule of thumb but I would put graduated on there as the caveat. Because for me I don’t want to have to ask you again compared to Mike, we won’t have to figure this stuff that out. Because I’m one of those people that takes a resume from the bottom up; I don’t read it from the top down. That’s just me, that’s just been my style for years.
I’d like to see where you’ve gone since you graduated. If you are a returning student, that’s great, I teach so I get it. That’s not a big thing; I just got my degree in 2011 so hey, hey. But I’ve been working in my profession for much longer. So again, the answer to that – and I think over 10 years, as far as 10 years, I say go for it because if, and this is – and keep in mind I’ve hired VPs, when I’m reviewing a resume for an executive or let’s just say someone who’s in a critical role, I actually want to go beyond 10 years. And most cases you want to hit 15-20. For example I had to bring someone on, a VP on for a company, a local company and he was going to head the region. And to me 10 years is not enough experience. Because if you’ve jumped around just once or twice, all of a sudden you just kind of water down your total of experience because you have to be able to implement and watch what your implementations have achieved. And sometimes that can take, results can take two-three-five years.
So if you jump once, that means that you have to go through that cycle again. I hope this makes sense. So I go beyond the 15 years. So again, back to, it depends. That make sense?
Kirsten Renner: And remember we talked about – real quick, just real quick. We talked about being yourself at a different session. You want to be a fit for you as much as you want to be a fit for it. And when we’re establishing labor categories and everything, when you – probably go to the new one in the room, we are going to base the amount of pay that you receive on your years of experience; as part of your qualification. So you don’t want to take that away from yourself, your experience is valuable.
Mike Wolford: Please tell us you graduated. Because here’s what happens, I’ve had this happen. I made this rookie mistake when I was a brand new recruiter. So put the education on the bottom of the resume and I had recruiters teach me to read from the bottom up. I read most recent, it’s really a preference thing for the recruiter. But the degree – so I had this candidate go through the entire process and then we did the background check, education verification and came back nil. And I was like, you have a degree or? “Oh I never finished, I went to college, this was my course of study but I never finished.” Well that’s mud in my eye. So I learnt that if I don’t see when you graduated, and I don’t see that you did graduate, I’m going to assume you did not. But you just attended that and that was your major.
Male Speaker: I hear that, just feels uncomfortable to me to say graduated at first. I guess those would be fine but seems redundant saying graduated with this degree.
Mike Wolford: Well, people just put the field of study or the other thing too that can’t, like I started accounting and finance. And they would put like they were in process of getting their CPA so that’s a four part process and then that candidate kind of mysteriously vanishes off the resume. So an experienced recruiter learns to be critical and if it doesn’t explicitly say it, like MBA CPA, CIISP, whatever, and you just put that down on the bottom, we’re just going to assume you took the class or it’s something you’re interested in, I don’t know.
Kirsten Renner: It’s because of people like me, I have University of Maryland in my field of study but I never finished.
Male Speaker: That is right.
Kathleen Smith: Yeah. Because more and more jobs are going, especially in the government space but more jobs are basically saying a minimum of a college degree. As they were saying, don’t make the recruiter have to find this information. Take that off their plate so they can move on to the really important stuff. So Mike, what do you find people bury the most in their resumes since we’re talking about buried treasure here? What are the things, when you are looking at someone’s resume and all of a sudden that nugget of gold is buried at the third bullet point? What do people tend to not highlight; what do they tend to bury?
Mike Wolford: Their accomplishments. We look for patterns of behavior as a recruiter and people who are successful, leave a path. Like they’ve won performance awards, they’ve been made responsible for things. So the very first word in almost every bullet point on a resume should be a verb. Responsible for, managed, supervised. Give me an action, what did you actually do? And people will bury that sort of thing. Like a performance award on the fourth bullet point; employee of the year. That’s a pretty big deal that should be first. There’s only one employee of the year probably and if you’re employee of the year of 2014 at the company, you need to put that first. That’s your lead here. That’s not the guy you make that seventh.
Kathleen Smith: Derrick.
Derrick Porter: I would agree with Mike on this one as well but I would like to add, numbers. Put numbers on it. We’d like to see numbers. People tend to hide the numbers and I’m often times surprised at my managers, those who’ve had to write reports; a lot of them leave that out of the resume. That’s so critical and I need you to tell me how many direct reports have you actually managed and talk to me about the space that you worked and dollars you saved. We want to see that stuff; that’s what’s important. Make sure if you have numbers like for my IT folks, put the numbers of the projects you’ve worked on and successfully completed. I don’t care what field you’re in, there is some numbers tied somewhere. Okay, so that’s what I would add.
Kathleen Smith: When we counsel veterans, when they are looking to transition into the commercial world, they say, “I don’t have any applicable skills from the military into commercial.” I said, “You mange a $30 million project. You moved 50,000 people. You managed a platoon of people.” So whatever your technical skills, there is also a soft business skill component to it. You were part of a team, you led a team, you were part of a project, you brought it in under budget. All of your skills that you have used, there is also another component of that that’s not technical. It’s actually business or soft skills. What have you done within your company that was solving a problem or you presented something to management?
Kirsten Renner: So just because it wasn’t part of the job description, often times and I actually do hate this, some people just take their job description and put that on their resume. That’s not interesting. You may not even think about it because it wasn’t part of your job description but did you solve a problem, did you come up with a new and better way for them to do something that wasn’t part of the regular process initially? Did you teach others and not even think about it? Did you teach everybody else a new way to do something? That’s you training people, that’s you developing and mentoring. So think of those keywords, those verb words, you developed, you mentored, you trained and you didn’t even think about it because it wasn’t in your job description.
So think about the relationships that you had either with your managers or your peers and how you affected those relationships, you can bring that out as well on your resume.
Kathleen Smith: We’ve heard a lot today about people who are interested in security, cyber security and they want to come into this field. So can our panelists sort of talk about, how do people live through going in from healthcare into accounting or government cleared and the non cleared. How does someone convey their skills in one industry into another?
Mike Wolford: I think the statistic – I read LinkedIn puts out a report every year for us about how and why people are changing jobs. One in three people are changing careers. One in three people who are changing jobs are changing careers. So I think just to start with, understand that it’s going to be more challenging, it’s going to take more time for you to do that. But what you need to do is highlight the relevant skills as much as possible because there’s no other way for you to know that. You’re not going to be able to move directly from accounting into I.T. That’s going to take time, you’re going to need somebody to open a door for you and that’s okay. But understand and put as much relevant information as you can share upfront; this is probably one of the exceptions to the rules. Upfront you’re going to want to highlight what you’ve done that’s relevant to the new job versus what you’re doing today.
But also be prepared and understand upfront that it’s going to take you longer. You may have to take a step back and be prepared for the question that’s going to come, why? You’ve been doing this for 10 years, why do you want to do something else? And you need to have a pretty compelling reason as to why.
Kathleen Smith: It can’t be that you want more money. It has to be, you’re curious about it; you’ve found the skills that you use are going to be better applied there. You are inspired by something but it’s got to be something more than more money.
Kirsten Renner: I was just going to say because I’ll forget. I was going to say, this is where volunteering, being in a competition, joining a club, going to a conference, is going to be you being proactive for yourself, being your own best advocate and doing those things that you weren’t required to do and that you just chose to do to change your career path and then highlight those things. So before you can bring it out on a resume, you’ve got to do it. So get involved, volunteer, go to a conference –
Mike Wolford: Take a class – get a certification, take a class –
Kirsten Renner: And show, look I did this outside of my duties or my responsibilities and then highlight that. Yes.
Kathleen Smith: Is it more imperative that they have competition skills as opposed to going into college and getting more of the education background or is being competitive more compelling at a younger age than having an education in older – because my understanding is in this field, sometimes the education you get is kind of outdate to some extent a little bit than if you were actually out there competing.
Kirsten Renner: You have to do both – I’m hogging all the answers, I’m going to do it real fast. You have to do both. Because you are going to show two things about yourself, that I can follow the rules and that I take an initiative. You really have to do both. You can’t just pass all the classes, good job or you can’t just do all the cool projects. Good job, you have to do both because that’s what you’re going to do at work.
Kathleen Smith: I think that this is – many people are talking about how difficult it is to get into cyber security or how difficult it is to find a candidate who can fit the job. Of all the industries that I’ve been involved in, this has the most opportunity because the competitions have been around 20-26 years. And people have been competing in competitions; they were hacking into a car right outside here. There’s the wireless competitions, there’s crypto challenges, there’s challenges at many different levels and those can be – there’s cyber patriot, there’s all kinds of competitions out there that anyone in your grade school, high school, college, all of the students have the opportunity to get real life skills but yes, they do need to also get their education. Because the employers are going to say, that’s really great that you got a black badge but I’m sorry I need for certain requirements of this employer, you have to have at least a BA, you at least have to have certain certifications and you have to be in the education mindset. Because, this of all of the industries, you are going to have to have certain certifications, you’re going to have to keep getting certified. There’s always going to be a new certification around the corner that some employer is going to want, so you have to be a good student as well.
Yes it was great there were many great hackers out there that had been in the industry 30-40 years and no, they don’t have a college degree. However, these days, you’re constantly going to have to be learning a new skill. So being able to say, “I went to college, I completed the degree.” Stacy, you just got your MBA a few years ago right?
Stacy: 2010, yes.
Kathleen Smith: 2010. So Stacy, everyone, we all know that it’s part of our own career development to keep learning. And yes you keep learning by being part of competitions. But unfortunately employers are going to say, are you up on your CISSP? Have you finished a variety of other skills? It’s going to be part of your promotion, it’s going to be part of your salary negotiation and it’s going to be part of your transferability to another employer. Yes Stacy.
Stacy: I would say, especially in government sector, you can use an advanced degree in lieu of a certain amount of year’s experience.
Kirsten Renner: And vice versa.
Kathleen Smith: So Stacy and Kirsten have both worked in the government contracting security cleared world. And yes, in that world, there are very specific requirements for any kind of job you do. And some of them are some of the most exciting jobs that are out there because they are right on the front line. But all of those jobs require at a minimum, a Bachelors. Then as Stacy was saying, because she was able to get her Masters, it was in lieu of having to have five to eight years of experience in specific fields. So it’s always going to be a culmination. Mike, Derrick, any further comments on this?
Derrick Porter: Yeah, I think first of all, everyone here is spot on but I would like to add that you definitely need an advocate. I just want to piggy back off what Michael said; you need an advocate if you can. For example, going to the State Workforce Agency, some folks avoid it. But it’s not a bad idea because a lot of times they have the ear of the employer and if you haven’t tried them, give them a try. I’ve certainly tried them; I’ve been on both ends. And I cut my teeth into HR through an SWA. So you might want to give that a chance. He advocated for me, the employer already had a relationship with them. It was as Michael was alluding to, you got to start small so I had to kind of back pedal a little bit. I had 10 years of call center experience, how the heck did you switch to and show that I’m a credible HR person.
It was your presentation; it was everything that you’ve been working up to and that moment – but then having an advocate is always good. So search advocates. I always tell people when you go into LinkedIn, get as many recruiters. Hook up with many recruiters as you can, get us friendly and cozy as many recruiters will allow you to. Get them in your back pocket if you can and go through those SWAs and a lot of them have wonderful programs that you might actually qualify for. So just something to munch on later.
Kirsten Renner: That’s an excellent point. That’s your untapped resources and that’s what we were talking about, that the agencies either local municipalities, local governments. There are resources that we forget that are available to us.
Mike Wolford: Yeah I want to – the eternal learning and a mentor. I switched careers too. I used to own my own businesses and retail has got nothing to do with recruiting really. But internally too, like I actually just submitted an article, it hasn’t even been published yet but one of my very first mentors in this business is somebody I think a lot of us know. His name is Jerry Crispin. He’s widely considered the Godfather of recruiting. The very first time he ever introduced himself to me, he said, “Hi, my name is Jerry Crispin the eternal student.” And like that to me was an extremely powerful lesson about, this guy has forgotten more about recruiting than I ever knew and he’s not calling himself a guru or a master or anything. I’m an eternal student.
So that is going to be college, that’s going to be certifications, that’s going to be teaching, mentoring but being mentored is going to be really important for you. So find somebody who is doing what you want to do and has what you want to have and learn from them. I think that’s broader than just recruiting or a career.
Male Speaker: Maybe two part question. First question is, have you ever rejected an applicant because they’re overqualified. If you have, what does the applicant do?
Mike Wolford: There’s nothing you can do because it’s the hiring manager. We’re not in charge of the whole thing. One of the great frustrations we have is we’ll present a candidate and we’ll feel really good about him and then the hiring manager will reject them for reasons beyond our control and that’s one of them. Because over qualified means they think you’re going to get bored or you’re just doing it till you get something better or you could do more than they can and it’s a threat to them. Or if they just don’t like you, they come back and tell us it’s not a cultural fit. Which is the most frustrating thing in the world for us because what do we tell you as the candidate? Legally we can’t tell you that so that really puts us on the line.
There is a movement inside the industry actually to stop that sort of thing from happening but you have to understand that we don’t make the decision and – so there’s really nothing you can do about it because we’re not going to get you past the hiring manager.
Male Speaker: So the first part of that was, would you reject?
Mike Wolford: Yeah. Because I know it’s not going to work
Male Speaker: Because you’re anticipating the rejection.
Mike Wolford: Yeah. It’s just like if the job required a CPA and you weren’t a CPA, I wouldn’t proceed. And there’s exceptions to that with the rule – we have a colleague Pete Radloff who used to be a director of recruiting. He ran recruiting programs and now he’s a recruiter and he wants to be a recruiter; he doesn’t want to be a director of recruiting anymore. But he already knew the company, he’d worked for them before and was like, “Hey, I’m done being a manager, can I just come be a producer?” And they are like, “Come on back.”
So, he already had that relationship and he was able to sidestep that but if he had applied as a director of recruiting at Living Social for a recruiting job, people would have been like, the recruiters internally would have been like, “No.”
Kathleen Smith: One of the reasons Pete, really great example. He had some very good reasons why he didn’t want to be a manager anymore. He has two young kids. He didn’t want those opportunities. He’s also a phenomenal community volunteer. So he spends a lot of time on the road speaking at conferences, he writes a lot and he is also on the recruitDC board. So he really had a story to tell; he was like, “Look, being a manager is not fitting in my career development, I’m doing these other things.”
And as Mike said, he already had a relationship with the company and he had already worked with them but it was part of that versus as you heard, a lot of hiring managers, a lot of – as you heard, the hiring managers are the ones that are putting the kibosh on it, not necessarily the recruiter. It’s understanding the whole person. They’re going to look – I was working with a job seeker last week, he’s got an M.D a PhD, 30 years of experience and he’s applying for program managers. That’s not really where he should be and he’s getting frustrated and he’s taking it out on recruiters. Believe me, that is not going well for him. So realize you are in control of this relationship. Don’t leave it totally in the hands of the recruiters.
Mike Wolford: Sorry, one more thing. Referrals right? I talked about this in the first thing; getting referred ups your chances. If you can get referred into a position and that’s genuinely what you want, you want a position that you’re overqualified for and that’s all right. Get referred because then the person inside the company can tell the manager the story. Because if you just apply online, we don’t have any of that background information, we just a resume and we have a requisition and this is way up here. We’re not going to be able to forge you; we’re not going to get you past the hiring manager. So if you come in through that door, we’re going to say no. But if you come in through as a referral and in the referral the person who is sending you to the recruiter says, “This is my personal friend and they are looking for this change. This is their story.” The recruiter is going to read that because we are going to be held accountable for the referral and so we’re definitely going to pay attention. Because we know, not only when new hear back from you, whether that person, we’re going to hear back from your manager and our hiring manager.
We know there’s now internal eyes on this. And also when we send it to the hiring manager, we have this other frame of reference to give them. So that’s realistically the only way to do it. But if you just putting a resume out there and you’re just applying for a job and you’re over qualified for it, don’t expect them to call you.
Kathleen Smith: One question that we were touching on earlier but I want to bring it back. Sometimes someone will apply to more than one position within a company. Can we talk about serial applications and do people need to customize their resumes to the job descriptions? Derrick.
Kirsten Renner: So when you get to a certain point in your career and you have a lot of different areas where you could potentially be an expert or you are at least very well qualified. So I can do Java and I can do C++ but technically I can do .net so I can do front end, I can do back end. By the way there was this time that I did a Swank implementation but that’s not what I want to do for a living but I did that and that’s a requirement of position and you’re never going to know about it because I didn’t put it in my resume. My whole point in saying all those words is that you really should at least take the time to read the description very carefully and notice if there’s anything in there that we cannot assume. You know what they say about assuming; that you can’t assume that the recruiter will assume because you’ve gotten to a certain level because you didn’t bother to tell us.
So yes please, don’t rewrite the whole resume but take the time to include information that is in the description, that you have done if you want to qualify for that job. It’s a gate keeper, so it doesn’t mean that you are fit for the job, but it means you’re worth having a phone call
Kathleen Smith: So if there are seven positions at a company, do you send the same resume, do you submit to all seven, what happens?
Kirsten Renner: So then it really becomes sort of a burden on you as the seeker. Do you want all seven of them? Are they all very uniquely different from each other? Is it a total disparity across the board? Are you satisfied doing seven completely different things? Figure out what you really want to do. I probably wouldn’t be as satisfied if I’ve gotten deep into the embedded system level stuff; I probably would be satisfied writing a web app. I know how, but I don’t want to do that. So don’t customize your resume for jobs that you’re not going to be satisfied doing ultimately.
Kathleen Smith: Anything else Mike or Derrick on this point?
Mike Wolford: Yeah. If you apply for seven jobs, I’m going to think you don’t know what you want to do. If I go in into our applicant tracking system and you’ve applied and I see seven records for you, I’m not even going to open it because it’s a waste of my time. You don’t know what you want and I’m not your therapist. I’m not here to help you figure that out. You should already know what you want to do and it just tells me as a – like that’s it, you don’t know what you want. I’m not going to talk to you sorry.
Derrick Porter: Before you jump into that, let me add on to and elaborate on this real quick and then we’ll get to that. I’m with Mike but I see things just slightly different probably because I went through in a different way as an employment specialist. So I’ve been an advocate for the applicant at some point. So I have a little soft spot in me unfortunately for some of my business partners but I do try to see things halfway as full. So I’m always looking, how can we salvage someone who’s good? If you’re good, for example a company I recently had a recruitment assignment with, this person applied for 13 positions. We just happened to have multiple positions applied. So I went into the resume because I was assigned that particular, I went to the job app and I was assigned that particular application or that job requisition; excuse me. And I looked at the person’s resume and I clearly could see they’re over qualified.
So I looked at this person – I’ll tell you what I did because this is where I am in my mind today. I would, what Mike’s saying but I just decided today, caught me at the right time that I’m going to go a step beyond and see what I can do to try and salvage this guy, keep him on board, keep him within our sights; because at the end of the day, we want good people at the end of the day. So I actually searched the job requisitions until I found something that was a fit; I found three. Called him up and I asked if I could give my honest feedback and if he would take time to listen and know that it was on a goodwill gesture about to take to the left or go crazy what I’m about t say. He did agree so I went forward and I told him he didn’t qualify for the position he had just recently applied for but I had three others that I would like for him to consider. Sent those job requisitions over to him to take a look at. And unfortunately, he didn’t qualify for any of those or the hiring manager went back, circled back and the hiring manager didn’t select him.
So it’s unfortunate, it goes back into that area, the grey area sometimes or it’s black and white where the hiring manager says, “You just don’t know what you want.” And as a consequence and unfortunately there’s consequences for some actions that you think when you are too extreme, too far to the left or too far to the right that kneel not some point at the middle there’s going to be a consequence. And you have to think about how hard I want to hit him. So at the end of the day maybe two or three. But yeah, after you start climbing up, I’m with Mike, it’s a risky deal.
Kirsten Renner: Super, super fast. Real, real fast on that now. Just know that and remember employers hire good recruiters but just know that when you apply, if you didn’t apply for the perfect match for you, a good recruiter is going to see your resume. Know what else is out there, know what else is in their company and they are going to match you up with that. So you don’t have to apply them separately. But I keep – he was trying to ask a question.
Kathleen Smith: Yes.
Male Speaker: So, assume that there is a company that’s offering let’s say 10 jobs that you can apply for and those 10 jobs are all things that you would be interested in doing and or you have experience doing them and you’d like to do them. What would you consider the maximum number of jobs to apply for at a company at the minute assuming that you have more than that max number that you would be interested in doing?
Kirsten Renner: Let’s just say in this scenario that we’re making up, there’s five postings and they’re uniquely different and you’re truly qualified for all five of them; is that what we’re talking about? It’s going to come down to the size of the company, the size of the recruiting team; I’ve only got seven recruiters I don’t know if you are going to get all the coverage that you need depending on the size of the company. There was a company person, a recruiter here earlier that worked on a team of what; 500 recruiters.
Mike Wolford: 400, yeah they were –
Kirsten Renner: I think I would start with one. Once you have the conversation, once you get to the point where you’re qualified for the job, you should receive a phone call. And be past getting then send e mails. Once you have a conversation, you make that recruiter aware that you noticed these other positions, that you’re aware of because you your research on the company and you’re like, I saw you guys just partnered with such and such. You just partnered with AWS and you just started doing cloud and you are doing this that and the other, you have this new customer and now I’m impressed, I just checked a box. I’m listening to you a little bit harder now because you took the time to do research.
Now the conversation is happening, now the relationship is being established, now you can let them know you are qualified potentially for more than one opportunity.
Derrick Porter: And I want to say that, if I can add, that person that knows that much about the company, that is pesky, just really irritates me, because they’re smart. Smart people make me pay attention and now all of a sudden I thought could do my seven seconds but now I’m 30 seconds. So, but yeah I would read this.
Kirsten Renner: I read that you already go the extra mile.
Kathleen Smith: Okay, even though we’re supposed to wrap up, five seconds from each one of you on video resumes. They are the new hot thing; do you look at video resumes?
Kirsten Renner: I do not. There’s one second; I have not.
Derrick Porter: I have not yet either; not yet.
Mike Wolford: No. And I don’t that they’ll be big because they are, it will be next to impossible to search.
Kathleen Smith: So, let’s thank our panelists for coming.