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February 24, 2015 / Mervyn Dinnen

21st Century Vacancy, 20th Century Recruitment Process

Steve received many email notifications of LinkedIn messages, most of them spam, but this one grabbed his interest immediately. It was from a recruiter who worked for a leading global digital brand in his industry and said that his name had been recommended for a specific role she was recruiting and that his profile looked as if he was someone worth talking to. She attached a brief job spec.

Minutes later they were talking, the recruiter asking questions about his blogging and speaking, project work and experience of social campaigns. She told him that the role she had was a new one, the first time the business had created such a position. It was part storyteller, part brand advocate and evangelist, creating content and being the social face of the brand in the UK and Europe. He would be doing outreach and networking. The background wasn’t important, what was needed was someone who knew their industry and was known in their industry. A credible advocate who would bring the brand to life, make it live and breathe in the social space, stand up at conferences and be a quotable expert for the digital business news sites.

She said that his record in digital marketing spoke for itself. He was highly rated, always appearing on lists of people to follow, his content was creative and from what she could see he knew the industry. If he was interested then she wanted to recommend an interview with the hiring manager.

He told her that he was interested, that it was the kind of role that he was looking for, and she said great! The first stage would be for him to email over a CV.

A CV?

Yes, we’re going to need a CV so the hiring manager can see what you’ve been doing

But it’s there on my profile. It’s all public. There are links to presentations, videos of me being interviewed and presenting, blogs I’ve written and a couple of downloadable white papers. Testimonials. Happy for the hiring manager to contact anyone on there for a reference. Surely for this kind of role that’s everything you want to see

It’s definitely important but the hiring manager won’t agree to interview you until he’s seen a CV

Steve was concerned. Did they really understand this role? Everything they wanted was there, surely that should be enough. If they liked what he did then why wasn’t the interview about culture and vision, looking at brand alignment and whether he was the right person to personify their story. Still, he wanted the job so a CV it would have to be. Perhaps it was their culture. The recruiter said that it only need be a brief overview.

************

The first interview was over the phone and lasted half an hour. It started with the hiring manager asking Steve to talk through his CV, going back about 10 years. It was frustrating as most of the period before 4 years ago was irrelevant to this role, but Steve duly obliged and answered numerous questions about things he had done in a totally unrelated marketing role 6 years earlier.

The conversation moved on to Steve’s more recent track record but it soon became apparent that, beyond reading the CV, the hiring manager had done no background checking. She was oblivious to anything Steve had done that wasn’t on the brief CV. Hadn’t the recruiter briefed her?

They talked about the industry in general and Steve gave his take on mobile and social, customer behaviour and expectations. The hiring manager was impressed “There’s a lot about you that’s not on the CV” she said. Steve explained that the CV was meant only as an overview and that his LinkedIn profile and personal website was where the real information was. “I’ll make some time to have a look“.

The call ended positively and Steve gave his feedback to the recruiter first thing the next morning. A couple of days later he heard back that the hiring manager’s boss wanted to Skype interview him. This was great news. He spoke to the recruiter about prep and was told to do more of the same.

The Skype call started with pleasantries, the lady seemed friendly and approachable and, holding up a copy of Steve’s CV she asked him to talk her through it, explaining what he had been doing for the last few years. Steve’s heart sank. There was so much he wanted to talk about, so many possibilities that he could see in this role that he wanted to share, but here he was again talking about a digital marketing role that he did over 6 years ago and which bore no relation to the role that was being recruited. He had checked the interviewer’s LinkedIn profile and found it quite bare. She wasn’t a noticeable social media user and a Google search returned no mentions or links of any interest.

Still, he was as passionate as he could be. The questions were fairly similar to the first interview, in fact it didn’t seem that any notes had been passed over so much of it was repetition, but Steve felt that there was some good rapport and the interviewer agreed with a lot of what he said. It ended on a positive note.

************

Once again Steve fed back positively to the recruiter, but this time there was no response for over a week. He thought this was strange, given profile of the business, the importance they had placed on their reputation, and their keenness to employ someone who would live, eat and breathe the brand. Surely they should be doing more to keep him enthused and engaged, and even if they didn’t think he was the right person, they had acknowledged his reach and influence so he assumed would still want to keep him as an advocate.

Eventually he heard back. The previous interviewer wasn’t sure that Steve had enough experience, he seemed light on relevant content. But Steve had loads of it, there were links on his CV, his blog site was full of information, videos and slide decks were available. Why didn’t she ask him more about it if she wasn’t sure? The recruiter admitted that the interviewer probably hadn’t checked all that out (again maybe its part of their culture he thought…worrying) but was recommending him for the next stage – a Skype interview with a global VP of digital marketing, who was based in the US and had a busy diary, necessitating Steve to have his interview at 10.30pm one evening.

The recruiter recommended that Steve prepare a supplementary schedule to his CV detailing all relevant content, presentations, videos, blogs, lists, white papers and testimonials, with links. This he did, ensuring it was as detailed as possible; he wanted there to be no doubt this time that he was a serious player.

************

He logged in to Skype at 10.25 and within a minute a connection was established with his interviewer’s PA, who explained that the interview would start a couple of minutes late as the interviewer was wrapping up a previous call. A couple became five, and then ten and Steve felt his eyes beginning to close. It was very late now to start. Eventually after almost fifteen minutes there was lift off. No apology, or reference to Steve having been kept waiting, but there was thanks for agreeing to talk so late. And then it was question 1

Thanks for sending through a copy of your CV. Why don’t you talk me through the last few years and let me know what you’ve been doing

Once again Steve’s heart sank but he didn’t let it show. The first ten minutes were pretty much a repetition of the previous two interviews, same questions and same observations. It was becoming clear to Steve that the best conversation he’d had was his first with the recruiter. There was no CV and all the questions were about relevant work that Steve had done that she had seen online.

So you’ve sent me through some other information. Tell me about it” The interviewer held up a copy of a two page printout and Steve started explaining what it was and why he had produced it. “Ok, I’ll take a look at it after our chat

Steve’s heart couldn’t sink any lower. He had so much he wanted to get across, so much to add, but he never seemed to get the chance. He was asked who he thought was doing good things in the market, what were some of the upcoming trends he felt important, and he certainly felt that he gave as good account of himself as he could on those questions, but it was really one-way conversation. He asked questions about the role, tried to get a feel for what the global VP was thinking, but got the distinct impression that his interviewer’s mind was wandering elsewhere. Either that or he didn’t really understand the role himself and wasn’t sure what they ought to be looking out for.

The call ended at around 11.20pm and Steve promised to feedback.

************

He spoke to the recruiter first thing next morning and fed back positively and she promised to get back to him with feedback as soon as possible.

But in the end it took 10 days, and it was a no. Actually it was an ‘it’s not you it’s us’ call. They didn’t really know what they were looking for but they were pretty sure that Steve wasn’t it.

He told her of his disappointment with the process, that no-one had really taken the time to check him out or given him the opportunity to explain what he could really do, how even at the fourth interview he was still talking about roles from ten years before as no interviewer had properly read his CV in advance, that the best interview had been the first with her as she was the only one who had any idea on the scope of his experience and what skills he could bring.

She said that she would pass the feedback on.

Its OK” Steve said “they can read it for themselves. I’ve just left my feedback on your Glassdoor profile

************

 

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One Comment

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  1. Jez Styles (@JezAdmore) / Feb 27 2015 9:28 AM

    Great blog Mervyn. I was berated recently by a candidate for not having read her CV properly (page 3 career history from 15 years ago). I was more worried about communication skills and how she talked to me on the phone, always a good indicator of how someone is likely to communicate to other people (it was a Head of Sales role in Healthcare). I guess my point is that there are a lot of people out there still utterly fixated on the CV as being the most important element of their ‘record of achievement.’ as you eloquently point out, a CV (and the rest of the process) doesn’t fit every recruitment process now.

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