Is the Best Candidate the one Who’s Good at Getting Hired?

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choosing the perfect candidate does over 10,000 resume critiques every day. Our career advocates talk to thousands of people a month, and we conduct research and surveys to understand the behavior and attitudes of thousands of career professionals. Our complimentary services help many people improve their resume, and we offer a paid service for those who want to rely on a resume writing professional to hone their resume. We’ve learned quite a few things in the process:

1) Most people do not have a good enough resume. We see far too many resumes with structural issues, inconsistencies, and even grammatical mistakes.

2) Many people rely heavily on online job application, and therefore are depending upon their resume to get them noticed and selected. In a recent survey, over 60 percent of job seekers applied to jobs EVERY week.

A well-written, focused resume can get results for candidates, especially those with in-demand skills and experience. We receive emails like this one weekly: “Last year you wrote my resume and I successfully landed 3 job offers.”

I’ve come to the conclusion that—from a recruiting standpoint—the best candidates are those that are good at getting hired. They have a good resume, they know how to demonstrate relevant skills and experience on paper or in person, and they keep an up-to-date online social profile.

There is a lot of talk about the “skills gap.” I’ve dubbed a related gap the ‘communications gap.’ The communications gap refers to job seekers who are capable of doing the job, but do a poor job of telling their story in a way that will get them noticed, selected for an interview, and hired.

But perhaps the most critical skills gap is the skill to get hired. The Undercover Recruiter wrote an article on 7 reasons employers will hire you. Reason number 1? A great resume.

Of course, the best way to get hired is by referral. I’ve gotten my last several jobs by networking. In this case, resume is secondary or irrelevant. My question of the day: When you review a referral candidate, how effective would their resume have been if they had applied blindly online? Would it have even gotten a second look? In my experience, referral resumes often come with the caveat, “I don’t really have an updated resume, but here is an old one.” We then overlook their resume shortcomings because the person comes with a recommendation. Chalk up networking ability as an important skill to getting hired.

I have talked with recruiters who try to mine “stealth” resumes, looking for that highly capable candidate who wouldn’t typically make it through the process. I’ve had several recruiters tell me that they find can find great candidates this way. The challenge becomes convincing hiring managers to seriously consider these candidates. A recruiter at Recruiting Trends last year relayed an example where a hiring manager refused to see a candidate even after the recruiter counseled him to ignore the resume and give this person a chance.

This puts recruiters in a difficult position. They can become career advocates, and help candidates to polish their resume as well as prep them to stay focused in the interview. Or, they can put the responsibility back on the job seeker, because quite honestly, few recruiters have time to be career counselors, let alone review hundreds of questionable resumes to find the diamond in the rough. Out of kindness to the job seeker, I’d ask that you be honest with the individual. Tell job seekers that companies want to hire people who are good at getting hired. Tell them to improve their resume, hone their story, and talk more with colleagues. Or else they’ll continue to play a numbers game, with the odds stacked against them.

By Joe Weinlick