Monday, November 30, 2009

How Much is Your Resume Worth?

Seriously. How Much is Your Resume Worth?

Think about it this way: If your communication with a potential employer is limited to a brief email, a cover letter, and a resume, how much attention should you pay to those tiny bits of communication?

You might be tempted to say that you're hoping to get a job at $50,000. That makes your few hundred words worth $50,000. Or perhaps you're hoping for a job at $80,000. That makes your few hundred words worth $80,000.

Realistically, somewhere in this wonderful world of ours, someone is willing to pay you at least $40,000 or $50,000 USD (if you're competent). So your resume is really worth the difference between your ideal salary and the salary you'll actually be offered.

So quite realistically, let's say you'll get a job somewhere for at least $48,000 and you're really hoping for a job at $60,000.

Your resume is worth $12,000.

In other words, if you have THE perfect, butt-kicking resume, it can be the difference between "a job" and THE Job.

For regular readers, this topic may be getting old . . . But Oh My God, why is it so hard to post a job in a great paying industry and get people to care about applying for the job? After years of hiring people, I have given up on the old established way of hiring people.

The old way is:
- Post a job description
- Get 100 + resumes from people who don't give a crap
- Eliminate 90 of them for tiny, meaningless reasons
- Screen ten of them seriously
- Interview 3-5 people
- 2nd interview with 3 of them
- 3rd interview with 1-3 of them
- Hire one of them

I know it sucks to look for a job. But it sucks just as much to hire people.

- - -

So we are trying something new.

I recently posted the standard ad and got about 130 resumes. I started to look through them, but they were full of unqualified losers. I think people submit their half-assed emails and crappy resumes so they can check a box on the unemployment application.

YUP: I looked for a job.

So I threw away all the resumes and cursed. Then I came up with a new plan. I posed the following on Craigslist:

    Tech Support -- MS Certified in Sacramento, CA

    Position: Senior Technical Support--MS Certified
    Location: US-CA-Sacramento
    Job ID: T17

    Employment: Hourly - W2 - Part to Full Time

    We are looking for a Microsoft Certified Professional with field experience who is passionate about customer service and small business consulting.

    Ideally the candidate will also have hands-on experience with Small Business Server and customer service.

    We are looking for an *experienced* and *certified* Windows Technician to support our clients.


    - Do not send a resume until requested to do so. We will not look at unsolicited resumes.

    - To apply for this position send the following two items to [email protected]:

    - 1) 1-2 paragraph description of why you are passionate about technical consulting

    - 2) Go to to register and share your MCP transcript. Email the link to us.

    - We will send a technology self-assessment to people who stand out. Some of these people will be asked to submit resumes.

    We are looking for a long-term employee who will grow with the company as we evolve into offering some new and very cool technologies. If you want to work on known technology and just collect a paycheck, you won't fit in here.

    A background check and clean DMV report are required. KPEnterprises is a drug-free work place.

    This position is in Sacramento. Please do not apply if you are outside the Sacramento Valley.

Let's Examine This

Here are a few key points:

1) Do not send a resume

2) Send a few paragraphs about why you're passionate about this industry

3) Send a link to your Microsoft transcript

Now let's think back. Let's say the average job applicant's resume was worth roughly $12,000. Don't you think for that kind of money you'd follow the instructions?

Here's What Happened

In total, 34 people applied.

17 of them - exactly 50% - sent a resume and did not follow instructions. They were eliminated without looking at whatever they sent in.

Again: I know I'm frustrated here, but for a job that pays the rent and puts food on your table, isn't it worth following some very simple instructions?

- - -

I consider this experiment a success so far. Let's see how the guy works out. :-0

It's a success because I started with passion and the ability to write a paragraph. That was mixed in with the ability to follow instructions. If someone can't spend a few minutes to follow these instructions, they certainly won't put out much effort after they're hired!

We also started with absolute proof that they had a Microsoft certification, so I didn't have to fiddle around with that.

We have a good interview process. And other than a tech who was out sick for part of the IW process, it went well.

I was pleased with all three candidates, although one admitted in the interview that he did not meet all of my criteria. The other two were great and both would work well on our team. We hired one.

So after all that, one out of three candidates that we actually did a first interview with still weaseled through the system far enough to waste a significant amount of my time. The new process is better than the old. But maybe there's just a certain level of B.S. in the whole hiring process!


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  1. We did something similar when advertising for our last job. But instead we set up a temporary phone number with an answering machine on it. Applicants were asked to phone the number and leave a 1 minute message about themselves.

    Some tried to bypass the process but in the end this screened most of the unwanted applicants because those that were wasting time just wouldn't call.

    We ended up employing someone who has now been with us for 4 years.

  2. Great idea!!

    May we use your method in our own job postings? Done the traditional resume-ask, don't want to go back if possible. :)


  3. Of course anyone is welcome to try this. The good news is: We got a FEW very qualified candidates. When it got down to the final two, we could have been happy with either one.

    We have a new technician who is working out great.

  4. Karl, thanks so much for the valuable information on your blog. I am getting ready to hire my first p/t tech and was wondering if you had more info on the the technology assesment you use.

  5. Basically, this is a list of all the technologies you use.

    - MS Office
    - SBS 2008
    - SBS 2003
    - DNS
    - DHCP
    - MS SQL


    Ask for a self assessment and how many years they've been using the technology.

    It's really simple, and you'll probably get some great comments that are quite revealing.

    We redo this list every year and try to create a complete list of the technologies we actually sell and service.

  6. It's interesting to see how things differ from company to company. I've applied for some companies that are very specific on what they want to see on your resume, and I've also applied for some companies who hardly glance at the resume at all. It's best to be prepared no matter what because in a lot of circumstances, the resume is all the employer sees. Whenever possible, when turning in a resume, I always try to give it directly to the employer so he/she can put a name with a face when they read my resume. I've found that little tricks like that go a long way when looking to be hired.


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