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Name that Tune: A Great Hire in Less Than Six Seconds?

Name that Tune: A Great Hire in Less Than Six Seconds?

Categories: Talent Management

As shocking as it may be, your next career opportunity is often in the hands of someone that will spend less than SIX seconds determining if you are a good fit. For the few of us that can remember when Jim Lange hosted a game show – before Jane Krakowski was tapped last year to resurrect it – you know it was called Name That Tune. The original show, which had contestants try to name a song after hearing the least amount of piano keystrokes, has some scary similarities with today's approach to assessing talent. Today's research shows that the people responsible for bringing in the right talent to their organizations spend mere seconds viewing the years of professional experiences their potential employees possess.

What Today's Recruitment and Hiring Efforts Often Look Like

In the world of recruiting/talent acquisition, where job seekers are hoping to get a chance to actually discuss their experience with a person in need of talent, front-line recruiters are making that determination in less than six seconds. That’s right, six seconds. There has been consistent research available to us for years about the amount of time a recruiter or a hiring manager spends assessing the life’s work of a candidate. Personally, I have more than thirty years of deep knowledge, experience and domain expertise. However, during a recent interaction with an executive recruiter, the person glanced at my resume without asking any probing questions. I asked about that approach. According to the feedback I received, their first step was to quickly glance at my resume and try and find a buzzword or two that were needed for the immediate job they were looking to fill. 

On the flip side, most people who are in the middle of a career transition didn't go to school to become professional resume writers (thankfully). So accomplished professionals spend hours, days, even weeks on the painstaking process of crafting a resume. Job seekers have been coached when putting a resume together to practice humility and confidence. You don't want to come off too passive, nor do you want to be tagged an arrogant know-it-all. That’s what we’ve been told, at least. That is a tall order to pull off on a piece of paper and show in six seconds.

The Algorithm Isn’t Working

After job applicants spend, on average, 20 hours crafting a resume, the recipient glances at their years of professional accomplishments for six seconds. The math doesn’t add up. The average professional spends 2,000 hours a year working, and in many cases, perfecting their craft. They spend more than 20 hours crafting their resume. But they’re judged in six seconds? With the greatest worker shortage in U.S. history – something needs to change immediately.

Change the Candidate Experience

While these recruiting challenges seem unfair, can we blame recruiters? The average recruiter receives more than 75 applicants per open position. What should they do? And what is the correct amount of time for a person to spend on a resume to determine a worthy candidate?

There is no correct amount of time. Yet, there is a responsibility to do the work necessary to find the right candidate. There are also proven methodologies that must be ingrained into recruiting processes to determine who an employer should engage with and why. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning are great buzzwords, but they’re not coming to save us.

The term "candidate experience" has been around for ten years, but it doesn’t appear that we’re doing much to improve it. The most recent survey results indicate job seekers are more frustrated and discouraged than any other time on record. Something is very broken with the system. It must become a priority for every human resource and talent acquisition executive to address.

Consider the current open positions you’re working to fill. Are you really trying to understand a person's skills, goals and interests? Or are you trying to fill an open position so you can move on to the next opening you're tasked with filling or other tasks in general?

During my 25-plus years in the recruiting business, I made it my mission to research and study the behaviors of job seekers, hiring managers and recruiters. For the next handful of resumes you review, I would encourage you to look for these five essential elements:

  1. Stability: Assess their tenure, knowing that the average job tenure is 4.1 years.
  2. Skills: Determine what experience is embedded in the resume. Buzzword bingo and technical skills sections are dangerous.
  3. Recent applications of desired skills: Evaluate how recently they’ve done the work your company is looking for.
  4. Brand of employers: Gauge the reputation and cultures of their current/former employers.
  5. Second dates/repeat engagements: Establish that your applicant has been asked back to former employers for second and third gigs, especially in today’s gig economy.

I can assure you when done with intention, this critical checklist won’t take very long, but it will take you more than six seconds.

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About Mike McSally

Mike McSally is a keynote speaker and talent acquisition consultant. Mike is a recognized and accomplished business leader with deep expertise in aligning people, operations and technology. Mike has spent over 25 years with the largest recruitment/services firms in North America. He is known for his ability to understand customers' complex business challenges and simplifying solutions for the customer and the customer's customer.

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