Look at the image above and really try to understand how broken the hiring process has become. According to a 2013 survey by Manpower, 39% of employers in all industries were having trouble filling open positions. The graph above explains why. While positions are left open through selective “choosiness” do companies really consider the true cost of leaving positions vacant?
Number two on the list of the ten hardest jobs to fill according to Manpower’s survey was sales representatives. Now using the graph above let’s map out a hiring scenario.
I’m looking for a sales representative who has experience selling to C-Level executives at semi-conductor companies with 500 or more employees. Sounds pretty simple right? Well let’s see. After gathering resumes from job postings and recruiters, the candidates are either fed through an applicant tracking system or through HR professionals. Let’s pretend I have 100 resumes with which to start. Bam, right off the bat the ATS eliminates sixty candidates. Most of these aren’t remotely qualified but a few good ones who don’t know how to pepper their resumes with relevant keywords slip through the cracks. The HR professionals eliminate another ten because, though the applicants are dynamite quota busters, they have either jumped around too frequently or have sold only into smaller companies.
Next, I begin reaching out to the thirty that made the cut. Only ten of those remaining candidates live within a commutable distance to the office. The others didn’t want to drive ninety minutes to work. The employer is willing to relocate a candidate from another state but unfortunately the candidates that would consider relocation live in an area of the country where the cost of living is much lower.
So now I have only ten candidates left who on paper appear qualified. Of these ten first contacted by a recruiter, three are happy with their current employer. Great, now I only have seven candidates!
Two of the seven remaining candidates make far more money than what the employer is offering. “Thanks but no thanks,” they reply. Now I’m down to a measly five. Five is better than nothing though.
I video interview the remaining five and show their interviews to the hiring manager. Within minutes three more are eliminated for “cultural fit” reasons. Now I’m down to only two candidates, which isn’t great, but at least I saved the hiring manager time by not having to interview all five in-person.
The big issue now is that the better of the two candidates has received job offers from at least one other employer. Ok, no problem if we act quickly. But nooooo! The hiring manager drags his/her feet for seven days and the candidate goes elsewhere.
One candidate remains. Though not the best this is a good candidate who won’t require much training because we know how employers no longer like to invest in training. The hiring company makes a good offer to the candidate but unfortunately the candidate’s present company makes a counter offer that is much better. Guess what? We are now back to square one.
Keep in mind that from the time the first posting went up until the time that only five candidates remained, six weeks or more may have passed. During that time and for the next six weeks while more candidates are found, this open sales position will remain unfilled or filled by a sub par candidate. But hey, it’s only money, right?
Do you know what a black hole is? Basically a black hole is a spot in space that is so dense it creates a gravitational pull so powerful that not even light can escape. In other words, once you get sucked in, you’re not coming out.
Until recently black holes could be examined only through literature, movies and the theoretical imaginings of scientists far smarter than I. However, startling research in the last twelve months has uncovered the existence of black holes much closer to home than originally hypothesized. As it turns out black holes have been forming within HR organizations for some time and have grown steadily bigger as the job market has worsened. A direct correlation appears to exist between the number of unemployed workers and the intensity of the black hole’s gravitational pull.
Let’s break down this phenomenon and clearly examine what is occurring. As the economy worsens, more and more unemployed people hit the job market and apply for the scarce number of job openings. These online job postings, whether posted to a job board or on a company’s website, are then inundated in some instances with hundreds of resumes. Qualified candidates are clicking “submit,” but their online applications are often drawn into a void from whence corporate replies rarely come. According to a survey conducted by The Talent Board, a non-profit seeking to improve the job application process, only 1 in 10 employers say they respond to every candidate. “You’re submitting your résumé to a black hole,” concurs Dr. John Sullivan, a human resources consultant for large companies who teaches management at San Francisco StateUniversity.
Some companies like Google, Proctor & Gamble and Starbucks, which alone had 7.6 million applicants last year, have 150 to 500 people apply to each open position. Perhaps the largest known job black hole on record was described by Peter Cappelli, a Professor of Management and Director of the Center for Human Resources at Wharton. His continuous research into the job market revealed a black hole at a staffing firm so large it swallowed 25,000 job applications for a “general engineer” position. Though the belief is that a small percentage of the applicants did receive a reply of some sort, not one resume out of 25,000 resulted in a hire.
Can job candidates do anything more than click “submit” and say a prayer when sending their resumes into the abyss? “You need to have (current) employees make referrals for you if you want to find a job,” suggests John Sullivan.
Black holes affect not only the candidate but also the hiring organization. Top talent enters but fails to exit the black hole on the hiring manager’s side seemingly disappearing into an ATS wormhole of sorts. Job openings then remain vacant. As a result big companies like Ernst and Young are adopting Dr. Sullivan’s referral suggestion and are increasingly using their own employees to find new hires. Employee referrals now account for 45% of their non-entry hires and they hope to reach 50%.
The referral behaves much like a homing beacon or tether between the applicant and referring employee. The resume can journey through the black hole quicker and with greater success. Riju Parakh, for example, a passive candidate not even looking for a job, was hired by Ernst and Young within three weeks after receiving an employee referral while thousands of other weekly applicant resumes wallowed untouched in the darkness.
Though I write this post with a bit of jest, resume black holes are very real and increasing. Be careful not to let your resume blindly go where thousands of others have gone before.