Tuesday, February 28, 2012

HR Forum Update: News and Info for Job Seekers

Last weekend, I had an opportunity to attend the annual HR Forum organized by the Resume Writer's Council of Arizona. This event enables resume writers and career specialists to sit down with global and national hiring managers with more than 30 years of combined hiring and recruiting experience and learn about hiring trends.

I was part of a group of career services professionals that attended the HR Forum. We were able to ask about the process that these HR specialist go through to hire candidates, the way they source and screen their employees, and their thoughts on resumes. I want to pass on the highlights of the event to you.

  • The use of applicant tracking systems has become common among larger corporations. The experts we talked with hired both globally and nationally. The use of an applicant tracking system, where applicants upload their resume and cover letter into the company's database, is the way they go about screening and locating candidates.
  • The recruiters estimated that 80% of their jobs were not ever posted. Most jobs were filled before they had to be posted by searching for candidates through their applicant tracking system or networking.
  • Due to the importance of networking, our panel of expert HR professionals focused on the importance of using LinkedIn to build a professional profile. All the experts claimed that they use LinkedIn to look for candidates and evaluate their background.
  • Our panel of recruiters touted the importance of getting to know the in-house hiring and recruiting staff to network your way into a company. They suggested using LinkedIn to make connections, attending job fairs and hiring events to meet them in person, going to industry trade shows, and participating in local or industry-specific networking groups to make connections and form relationships. They suggested participating in all these activities, whether you were actively seeking employment or not, so you have a healthy network at all times.
  • As much as the recruiters stated that getting to know the HR staff was important, they stressed that there is a fine line between being assertive in your networking and "stalking" the recruiter. Follow up, be professional, and make contacts but also respect their time and realize they have other priorities than you.
  • The recruiters confirmed that if a candidate has 80% of the qualifications on a job posting that they should go ahead and apply. They stressed the difference between "need to have" qualifications and "want to have" qualifications.
  • That being said, the recruiters went on to discuss a lack of education. They stated that in some cases they would be willing to overlook a lack of a Bachelor's degree. However, the candidate should have two to three times the length of an education to compensate for lack of education. (i.e. 12 years experience to compensate for the lack of a 4-year college degree)
  • When a resume is viewed in an applicant tracking system, only the top third of the resume is visible. The summary of qualifications has become more important than ever before! If the top third of the resume "does not clearly state how the candidate can add value" they will not even bother to open the resume in the system.

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