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Terms You’re Sick of Seeing on a Resume

How is it possible that we live in a world with billions of unique people yet every single resume seems to be identical? In a way, we like when people use the same boring font, simple format and basic structure, but the least they can do is mix up the wording. Any recruiter or hiring manager who looks at resumes is tired of the same buzzwords.

This infographic from ebi sums it up perfectly. Not only did they capture the most common clichés that appear time and again, they hit the nail on the head with what we’re all thinking when we read it. Better yet, this infographic is more than a negative stab at uncreative job applicants. It also includes suggestions for job seekers on what they can say instead — perfect for you when those keen rejected applicants ask for your feedback!

Terms You're Sick of Seeing on a Resume

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How to Use Google Drive to Track Candidates

How to Use Google Drive to Track CandidatesApplicant tracking systems (ATSs) are great tools for recruiters. The right ATS provides capability to easily accept resumes from candidates, sort and screen through those resumes, and organize them so qualified candidates can be contacted for future opportunities. Unfortunately, small companies rarely have the resources for a dedicated in-house recruiter, let alone technology such as a sophisticated applicant tracking system. However, in today’s world of free technologies and cloud storage, there are still opportunities to create a makeshift ATS with similar capabilities, albeit missing some bells and whistles. Enter Google Drive!

If you’re not familiar with Google Drive and are interested in exploring it to create an ATS, here are a few quick tips to get you started:

  1. Create a Google Account. The days of needing a Gmail address to have a Google Account are long over. Anybody can create a Google account, using any email address, which will give you access to the hundreds of Google’s available services. For the sake of this post, Google Drive is the only service you need to worry about.
  2. Start Creating Folders. Just like Windows Explorer, where you may already store most of your documents, Google Drive lets you create folders and sub-folders. To organize it like an ATS, you may want to create folders for each department in your company, and then common positions within each department. From there, you can create a folder for individual candidates where you can store notes and resume versions.
  3. Share Folders. As long as your co-workers also have created a Google Account, you can give them access to all or specific folders so they can also browse resumes. If at any point they receive a resume that they think would be helpful for you in the future, they can save it into one of your folders for when you need to hire.
  4. Verify Folder Ownership. Creating folders and sharing documents can start to get out of control as different people become owners of different folders. For security purposes, consider organizing your structure so only one person in the organization (ideally somebody who will never leave) is the owner of all folders. This will simplify things down the road should a folder owner leave your company. You might also consider creating a generic account for the company that is not associated with a specific person and, therefore, is never closed.
  5. Start Searching. As you know, Google is pretty awesome when it comes to search capabilities, and they bring this knowledge into Google Drive. When you’re searching for a candidate, type your criteria in the search bar and see which resumes pop-up.
  6. Upgrade Your Google Drive. As noted, one person at the company is going to “own” all of the folders. This doesn’t mean they physically own anything, but it means their Google Account is the official home for all files. It won’t be long before the free space Google provides to that account is used up. Given the very low monthly costs of an upgrade (around $3/month) this would be a good move.

That’s it! Google Drive does not replace the amazing capabilities of a regular applicant tracking system, and will not come without its flaws; however, if you’re a small company looking for an applicant tracking solution, Google Drive is a great place to start. How do you organize your resumes without an ATS?

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How to Easily Pick the Best Candidate Based on the Resume

How to Easily Pick the Best Candidate Based on a Resume You have an important role that you need filled ASAP, or you’ve had a nagging job opening for the last month and half and don’t know where to start with that pile of resumes on your desk.  You know one thing, there’s no way you have time to interview them all, so how do you know which resumes are the best?  Is there a way to, quickly and effectively, spot the best candidate just by scanning their resumes?

Follow our foolproof 6 step process to save hours of interviews, background checks and reference calls wasted on candidates that were never going to be Mr. or Mrs. Right anyways, and streamline your hiring process by learning the best way to rank candidates just by looking at their resumes:

  1. List all of your requirements for the job, necessary skillsets, education or certifications, and minimum experience. Once you’ve got the full list, categorize them into mandatories, desirables, and bonus qualifications.  Set a minimum score or tally that you want, either for each section or for all of the mandatories, desirables and bonus qualifications in total.
  2. Without looking at any names, personal profiles or pictures, scan through the resumes and tally how each resume stacks up against the above requirements.
  3. Eliminate the resumes that don’t meet your standards from Step 1. Unless one of those resumes grows legs and walks back into your new pile, you’re done with that candidate.
  4. So now you’ve got a new stack, but how do you break ties or close ranks? Within your new, whittled down pile, look for measurable results listed in the resumes.  Search for achievements like awards, goals met, dollar value of projects, or number of people managed. This will give you a tangible view of the candidate’s past instead of waiting until the interview or reference check process to find out your Project Manager has only managed a 1 person, $1 project that was 1 month behind schedule.
  5. This next step is the personality/culture fit.  Every office has its own vibe; what types of personalities click in your office? Similar, to step 1, list some personality traits that you think would be beneficial to someone joining your office.
  6. Scan the profile/hobbies section or any other personal information section on the resumes. Sometimes the personal profile section can be a bit of a gloss-over section, but if you know what works in your corporate culture, don’t be shy to look for it.  For example, if your office is very green, look to see if anyone has noted any environmental volunteering on their resumes, or if you’re in an ultra-competitive company, see if anyone has marked down sports accomplishments.

By the time that you’ve run through this process you should have your own quick, clear ranking of your candidates, based on experience, results and personality fit, prior to interviewing them. We still recommend you go through the interview and reference check process, but this should help you get to that process faster and with a better view of what candidates to seriously consider!

Next time you’ve got an open position, try this process out and let us know how it worked!


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The Flawless Methodology Recruiters Use to Discover a Job Hopper’s Real Intentions

"Why" MethodologyIn a recent post, we tackled the notion that not every resume filled with short-term positions is a concern, and there are a number of valid ways a “job hopper” may have been created. In the end, you need to ask the right questions to learn more about each individual. If you do decide that the job-hopping applicant is the right fit for your organization, you’ll still want to take the right measures to ensure your company doesn’t end up as another notch in their belt.

How to uncover the truth about a job hopper’s history

Are you evaluating a rising star who left various positions for valid reasons or is this a toxic worker who was pushed out of multiple organizations? This can be difficult to deduce through just a resume. If their skills and qualifications meet your requirements, bring them in for a job interview and learn more.

A smart job seeker will be aware that their job history is a concern and will be prepared to answer your questions on the topic. As hard as it is to believe, when you ask a candidate “Why have you had so many jobs?” they won’t honestly tell you “Because I’m a terrible employee.” Instead, ask questions like:

  • Why did you leave each position?
  • What made the new jobs attractive?
  • What did you accomplish at the short-term jobs?
  • What do you consider a “long time” to be with a company?
  • Where do you see yourself in 1 year? 5 years?

These questions will help you learn a lot about somebody’s personality, loyalty, intentions, and expectations. The “right” answer will depend on your company’s culture and the role itself, but in general, if their responses to leaving a job are always negative, salary is a consistent motivator for moving, they only want to be with a company for a couple years at most, and they have no goals or ambition for the near future, it’s time to politely end the interview.

Alternatively, you may be satisfied with the responses and see that this person is a professional who was in some short-term positions and genuinely wants to build a career with your company — great! There’s just one more check before you can write-off the job hopping red flag. You need to verify the references as you would any other job applicant. Ask the candidate if you can contact people from companies where they had short tenures. This will allow you to confirm the truthfulness of the candidate’s story.

If/when you hire the job hopper

It’s natural to be a little nervous when you hire somebody, especially when they have a history of leaving positions quickly. So what steps can you take to make sure you’re not another paragraph in their resume? First, ask them right-out for a commitment. Even if it’s verbal, asking them to say they will stick around for a certain period of time will have an impact on some people. You could even offer incentives after an agreed-upon milestone. If your hunch is that your new-hire leaves companies because they get bored, then ensure you have plenty of challenges for them so they can continue to grow in your organization. Finally, if you’re serious about keeping your employees, especially in a competitive industry, you’ll need to make sure you are paying at market rates. In this Quora post, the tech professional realized that the only way he could get compensated fairly was to continuously job hop.

Have you ever hired a job hopper? How did it work out? Share your experiences in the comments below.

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7 Reasons Job Hoppers Aren’t the Waste of Time You Think They Are

Job HopperA recruiter’s first step in screening a massive pile of resumes is usually to weed out the ones that are definitely not qualified. That could be the people who clearly have no experience, those from a complete other geographic location, and, for some recruiters, “job hoppers” — the applicant whose resume hosts a number of short-term positions.

There are valid reasons job hoppers automatically raise a red flag in your recruiting process:

  • They may have been fired or pushed out of many companies;
  • They could always be on the look-out for better salaries, leaving all loyalty behind;
  • They might be a negative, dramatic individuals who don’t get along well with others;
  • Perhaps they’re afraid of commitment or get bored easily;
  • The list goes on…

Any of these should cause you, as a hiring manager, to put their resume through the shredder and pretend you never saw it. After all, why would you invest so much time into somebody only to have them leave you with headaches down the road? The problem is, you don’t know if those are the reasons your candidate is a job hopper. In fact, one could argue that there are as many acceptable reasons for having multiple jobs as there are for unacceptable reasons.

Here’s why your job hopper may not be the high-maintenance drama king/queen you expect at first glance:

  1. Their multiple positions are all in the same company, or group of companies, and represent department shifts or promotions;
  2. The candidate has worked on temporary contracts that were never meant to last any longer than a few months;
  3. The “job hopping” happened in a rough economy, where jobs were hard to come by and companies were having unexpected lay-offs;
  4. The average length of a job in their industry or position is short;
  5. They organized their resume badly to show many co-op or internship positions;
  6. They’re very ambitious and still haven’t found the perfect fit (this is only good if you’re up to the challenge); and,
  7. Some people just have bad luck and get stuck in many terrible companies until they find the right one.

Your parents taught you at a young age never to judge a book by its cover and the same applies when hiring — never judge a candidate by their resume. Remember to ask the right questions and truly understand a job hopper before throwing them in the “no” pile. Of course, where your mother may have encouraged you to give people a second chance, we won’t force that upon you when you come across a resume with a ton of red flags. One or two questionable traits in a resume is one thing, but if an applicant’s CV sets off alarms in every line, you have our blessing to burn it.

What other reasons can you think of or have you seen for job hoppers — good or bad? There are an infinite amount of reasons, so let’s start the list in the comments below.

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Is That Degree Really Necessary?

The education section of a job description is very common these days. In most cases, there are some mandatory requirements in there telling applicants that if they don’t have a certain education, they shouldn’t even bother applying.  Have you ever taken a step back to look at your descriptions and ask yourself if that requirement really is necessary?

If you’re hiring for a highly skilled professional position, such as an accountant, lawyer, engineer, or an IT professional with extensive knowledge on a specific technology, education should definitely play a key factor.  But there are also some situations when you may be able to back down, look past the lack of degree, and really analyze their experience.  Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • Graduation Cap and CertificateAre you hiring for a performance-based role? The easiest example here is a sales position. It doesn’t matter if they went to a prestigious school 15 years ago, what matters is if they can make money today.  Check out the recent successes with business development of the applicants, their personality when networking and dealing with clients, and their ability to really understand your industry and product.
  • What have they learned in past jobs? They may not have a signed piece of paper officially announcing they’ve learned new skills, but have they? Explore their past jobs, technologies they used, and their successes.  Perhaps they received on-site training from industry experts or attended conferences and seminars from leaders in the field.
  • Are they trainable? Continuing with the previous point, if you’re dealing with an ambitious person who loves to learn new things, it may not matter that they skipped post-secondary education. If there’s potential for them to learn and you’re willing to train them, hiring that person could get you a very loyal employee.
  • What education does the applicant have? If the applicant has some formal education but it doesn’t match your requirements, don’t put their resume in the shredder.  Explore what they do know. Perhaps the basic skills they need to be successful in that role are still there.  Also consider the institute.  In the same way that there are Universities handing out shabby degrees, many other schools are awarding certificates that come with above-average credentials.
  • Do you want to save money? It’s accepted in today’s economy that people with higher education receive higher compensation. You can use that to your advantage when negotiating with a candidate who lacks that degree.

If a degree, certification, or any other piece of education is truly necessary to the job, then by all means, include it in your job posting. But be sure to think twice.  It would be a shame to discourage great applicants, or rule out qualified professionals, simply because they’re missing a few letters at the end of their name.  What do you think?  Is education a deal breaker when you’re looking for applicants?

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How to Keep a Fair and Consistent Hiring Process

You have a great opportunity and an influx of valuable candidates knocking on your door to get that job. (What a great problem to have!)  Who do you choose?

Before you jump to hire your favourite person, take a step back and make sure they’re really the best fit.  Was your screening process consistent enough?  Do you really know who the more qualified people are? Screening fairly

A fair and consistent hiring process ensures that when your options are marginally close, you pick the best person for your organization.  If anything, though, you should be concentrating on a fair process because it’s the right thing to do.

So, how can you be confident you’re recruiting ethically and in the best interest of your company?  Here are a few quick points:

  • Keep the entire process consistent for each and every applicant.
  • Make a plan that aligns with the goals of the open position before you even start to hire… and stick to that plan!
  • The plan should extend to interviews. Keep the same format, ask the same questions, and record all of the answers so you can review everybody fairly at the end.
  • Create a diverse hiring committee to help eliminate unintentional discrimination or biases. Each person can have different priorities for the new hire, but everybody should agree on the final plan and goals.
  • Periodically evaluate to make sure you’re still on track. Is everything still consistent?  Should something be added to the plan?
  • Have weighted qualifications. This will help you stick to the priorities and adds objectivity to your skills evaluation.
  • Written tests are also great, but make sure they’re marked objectively, possibly by an unbiased third party. Also be sure they’re relevant to the requirements and weighted accordingly.

But don’t miss out on great candidates!

Of course you need to be fair, but remain flexible and human.  Don’t rely on just numbers and select the candidate with the best score.  Your team’s feelings and intuition should still play a significant role. Remember to pay attention to unique skills and experiences a person may bring to the table.  They may be flashy and irrelevant, but they may also be valuable assets that align with your organization’s strategy.

How do you keep a fair and consistent hiring process? Share your ideas in the comments below!

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4 Candidates You Should Reject but Not Forget

One of Virtual Recruiter’s most value-adding services is our resume screening.  Our clients get dozens of resumes and we scratch most of them off the list, leaving only 3-5 top candidates.  While often there are some applicants who come close to making the shortlist, there are many others who get cut fairly quickly.

So what should you do with those rejected applicants?  Some of them obviously have no business applying to your job and should go directly to the shredder, but others may come in useful for the future.  Here are a few examples of some rejected candidates you may want to keep around.

The Under-Qualified: This person has many of the right skills, but lacks some of the major requirements for this particular job.  However, Business handshakecould they come in useful for future opportunities?  Perhaps you’ll be looking for a more junior-level person who you can train and bring up the ranks.

The Over-Qualified:  The opposite of the above, this person has way too many qualifications.  You’re concerned that they’ll either be extremely expensive, or won’t stick around because they will get a better offer down the road.  If you’ve decided you do not want over-qualified people, don’t burn their resume.  Even if you’re never going to need somebody that senior, these people could be great consultants or even have a network of people who would fit your opportunity.

Wrong Geographic Location:  A question we ask all clients is if they would consider out-of-town resources.  Responses vary depending on the client, but for those who select “no”, we reject many more candidates.  Often an applicant is a perfect fit for the role, but they live on the other side of the country.  We still recommend keeping these resumes on file.  Perhaps another one of your offices will require that resource, teleworking will become an option for your company, or you will be in a better position to help them move down the road.

Salary requirements don’t match: Candidates are sometimes upfront about salary requirements in their resume, and those requirements don’t match what you’re offering.  If the candidate would be great for the role, you can eliminate them, but don’t forget them.  Anything is negotiable and if you don’t find anybody suitable, you may need to adjust your expectations.

Even though there are many terrible resumes, with Virtual Recruiter we still send 100% of the ones we receive back to the client.  Why?  Partially so we can show the value Virtual Recruiter returns, but also because we encourage clients to keep them on file and hire them later.  How long do you keep unqualified resumes?  Have you ever gone back to them and hired somebody?  Let us know in the comments below!

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How to Quickly Identify Job Board SPAM

Searching through terrible, unqualified resumes of people who had no business applying to your jobs is one of the worst parts of screening candidates.  To add to that frustration, “Job Board SPAM” is increasing in submissions and, if you don’t quickly identify it, it can take up a lot of your recruiting resources.

What is Job board SPAM?

Job Board SPAM is the abundance of fake resumes that at first glance look like credible and valuable candidates.  After skimming through them, and possibly even interviewing some, it becomes clear that these applicants are not what they claim to be. When you speak to the person at the other end of the resume, you’ll learn that they have little or no knowledge of what they claim to have and, if you proceed to the reference-check stage, those turn out to be bogus too. The resumes typically come through major job boards and are mixed in with qualified resumes that you would not want to pass over, so being able to distinguish between them is crucial.

Identifying Job Board SPAM

How can you identify these pests and pass over their resume, while being confident you don’t accidentally discard a credible professional?  We SPAM Attackhave reviewed many resumes and based on our review, we have developed a list of common traits in Job Board SPAM.  If a resume matches the traits below, you may want to save some time and file it in the shredder.

  • Identical resume format to a number of other submissions, usually in the form of:
    • Professional Summary
    • Technical Skills
    • Education
    • Professional Experience
  • Experience spans across large companies in multiple North American cities. This makes reference checks more difficult for you, and easier for them to fake.
  • Education is never from Canada, or any institution that’s easy to research.
  • The header includes three pieces of contact information: Name, Email and Phone Number. There is no physical address and the email address usually follows the format
  • There is no link to a social media profile. (not many people include this, but if a resume does have a LinkedIn profile, you can be certain it’s credible)

This is not a fail-proof checklist, but a great starting point.  Also as a growing trend, this list will need to be adapted over time.  Do you encounter much Job Board SPAM in your applications?  Do you have another way to flag it?  Share your comments below!

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Red Flag! Your Candidate is Lying

Many people lie. It’s a fact of life.  There are those chronic liars who never seem to have a believable story and there are some regularly honest warningpeople who have to tell a fib in desperate times. Unfortunately, fibs aren’t limited to personal lives and are found throughout the business world, even when looking for jobs. That makes it important for recruiters and managers to identify any potential lies early in the screening process and verify all truths before hiring somebody.

What kind of lies are we talking about? 

The most common ones recruiters report seeing are:

  • Work experience and job titles
  • Time worked at a company (specifically if they’re trying to cover up being unemployed)
  • Why they may have lost a job
  • Education
  • Previous salary
  • Taking all of the credit for a team project
  • Criminal records

How can you spot if they’re lying?

  • Always do your reference checks! For legal reasons, references can’t always say if somebody was fired, but they can say if they’d rehire the candidate.
  • Administer tests and quizzes to validate technical skills
  • Remember, “studied at” doesn’t necessarily mean received a degree from a particular institution. Clarify if they actually completed a program and always ask for a transcript.
  • Watch for “diploma mills” that sell degrees. These can be identified by sketchy websites, lack of accreditation, and extraordinarily low costs for diplomas.
  • If you’re unsure the person worked somewhere, or is currently working somewhere, call the company and simply ask to speak with them. See if the response is “one moment please,” “they no longer work here,” or “who???”
  • You can’t do background checks without permission, but you can always ask permission. If the applicant says no, they may be hiding something.
  • Check them out on social media, ideally right away. Smart liars will update their LinkedIn profile to reflect their resume, but they may make a mistake in places like Facebook and Twitter. (this is a long shot given how most professionals set high privacy settings)
  • Be sure to get strategic in your interviews by pushing for detail and watching for signs of lying such as:
    • Shuffling their feet and looking nervous
    • Sudden head shifting after hearing a question
    • Putting their hand over their mouth
    • Constant blinking
    • Repeating words and phrases

There are many reasons a person may lie to you when applying to a job and it’s only good practice to suspect it and investigate right away.  What you do from there is a strategic decision for you and your organization.

Where is your line?  Would you still hire somebody if they embellished their job title or avoided telling you that they got fired? Does it depend on the position?