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Monday, February 16, 2009

Resumes Tell A Lot More Than You Think

I'm writing this from a Fairfield Inn near Washington, D.C. We are up here on the first of a three-city recruiting trip looking for contract outside sales professionals for our Live Events division. I don't do a lot of this type of recruiting anymore, so this has been a great refresher course to keep my recruiting chops current. We've had a response ratio of about 130 resumes for every opening, and for "my" three cities its told me a lot about what's going on in the economy, whose up, whose down, and whose surviving. It also has reminded me of the dumb things people do that sabotage their own job search.

Industries Responding
While applicant flow is up overall due to higher unemployment, some segments of the economy are represented more than others. Since sales is a profession that cuts across industries, you can tell which sectors are suffering more by the applicant flow from those industries. I read a disproportionate number of resumes from auto salesmen, Realtors (especially younger or less experienced ones), real estate closing agents, real estate loan brokers, construction estimators, bankers, retail managers, and retail workers. In the Atlanta market we had a large turnout from people recently employed at AT&T which suggests some type of layoff or buyout in that market. Its obvious that, while retail business is off overall, anything having to do with home building, buying, or financing is particularly hard hit.

Skill Sets Responding
About half of those responding to our sales ad had sales experience. Probably 80% of the rest of those responding described themselves as:
  • consultants
  • leaders
  • speakers
  • grant writers
  • community organizers
  • advocates
  • analysts

There's something that these jobs all have in common; they aren't at the core of most employers' businesses. If you sell landscaping, for example, you can afford "nice to have" jobs in good economies. In this economy, you don't want the consultant to tell you how to landscape, a leader to supervise your landscape crews, a speaker to inspire your landscape crew, a grant writer to apply for government funding for your small business loan, a community organizer (we elected one of those), an advocate for the social causes of landscapers, or an analyst to tell you how you performed vs. other landscape companies. In this economy you need to keep the people who dig holes, plant shrubs, throw mulch, and handle a water hose.

And This Tell Us What?

There's a lesson in all this about surviving a recession, and it has a lot to do with why I'm in Washington recruiting for sales talent. When a company has to decide who stays and who goes, it almost always errs for those who do; who execute at the core of what the business is all about. It is less likely to keep those who talk about it, attempt to lead it, aspire to inspire it, or analyze what the doers are actually doing. In today's economy survival looks like this; begin each day asking yourself, "What can I do today to cut cost or drive revenue today, tomorrow, this week, etc..."

On a final note, this is strictly an overall comment on what I'm seeing in the recruiting realm. It should not be inferred as a criticism to anyone let go in either of our RIFs this year. This is not a comment on their selection or a criticism of their work.

Jim


1 comment:

Steven D. Davies said...

Early in my career I made a goal to always work on the 'revenue' side of the business -- the things that bring money in the door, rather than the 'expense' side of the business. I think this aligns with your core concept well.

This direction has stood me well through multiple market downturns. Your advice is wise for everyone entering or returning to the workplace.

Steve Davies
www.PerfectJobSoftware.com