Resumes Are Like Wine

Old Wine Cellar small by acren23 via creative commonsIn response to my recent post about the deficiencies in the search capability of many Applicant Tracking Systems, a few people commented to the fact that resumes stored in applicant tracking systems become stale and outdated over time, which may explain why ATS resume databases are often the candidate “source of last resort.”

While candidate records inevitably age over time and can become outdated, this definitely does not have to be the case.

A candidate record can only truly go “stale” if no one ever makes contact and updates the record with more current information from time to time – and it need not even be every 6 months.

Any recruiter worth their salt will attempt to maintain periodic contact with most candidates and update their information as appropriate, regardless of their job search status. This can also be automated to some extent with strong and effective CRM functionality – so even if the recruiter forgets to follow up with someone every 6 months, the CRM won’t.

Resumes Are Like Wine

While human capital data in the form of resumes and candidate profiles may get outdated, it never truly loses its value. Resumes and candidate records are like fine wine – they only get better with age.

Yes, I believe the value of human capital data actually increases over time.

If I find a resume of a 2 year Unix systems administrator today and permanently capture them into my ATS, over time that person will gain experience and expertise, and likely advance their career along the way. In 5 years I will have a 7 year Unix admin, a Unix systems engineer, perhaps a project manager or even a storage area network specialist – who knows? No matter their career path and progression, I will stay in touch with them and routinely update their information - regardless of their job search status.

The same is true of nearly every profession – accountants, attorneys, physicians, customer service reps, mechanical engineers, recent college grads, etc. – they will all gain experience and advance their careers over time. 

Limited Shelf Life

Did you know that some people who post their resume in online resume databases (job boards and such) sometimes pull their resume down shortly after they post it, rendering it unfindable? Sometimes in a matter of hours!

Social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter can also suffer from a similar effect. Because they are based on UGC (User Generated Content), at any time any user can make their profile private and unsearchable (even via X-Ray searching in some cases!), or simply remove content that may aid you in searching for/identifying them based on their professional skills and experience.

However, if you’re always on the lookout for certain types of professionals, scouring every source available to you, and you permanently capture the information you find into your ATS/CRM, you may essentially be collecting rare vintages (yes, I’m going to continue with the wine analogy) that may no longer be in circulation in the near future. 

In other words, when you find and capture that resume or profile of the 2 year Unix admin (or accountant, or attorney, or recent grad, etc.) who pulls their resume or alters their social networking profile at some point in the future – you may have in your possession a candidate that may never be found by anyone else again.

This would allow you to specifically search for that particular candidate and reach out to them in a year or two’s time – when they are passively looking or not looking at all – and present them with a position that is well aligned with the next step in their career. At this point, you may literally be one of the few people who have quick and easy access to that candidate as their career progresses, regardless of their job search status.

ATS Databases are 70% Passive/Not Looking by Volume

I believe that a well stocked ATS candidate database is likely to consist of mostly (approximately 70%) candidates who are not looking or who are passively looking. That percentage is probably even higher when you consider only candidate records that have been entered/created over 3 months ago. So, if you’re one of those recruiting professionals who believe the hype that active candidates are bad and passive candidates are good, you should be excited about the prospect of building a private “passive” candidate database that you can mine to your heart’s content.

While I am most decidedly NOT one of those people who buys into the idea that passive candidates are the “best” candidates, I can tell you from experience that candidate closing and control is almost a non-issue when you are dealing primarily with people who are not actively looking, are not being called by every other recruiter in the known universe, and don’t have 5 interviews scheduled this week and 2 offers in hand.

So it IS nice to be able to purposefully target and dip into a large pool of well qualified candidates, who are not actively looking, and many of whom no one else has quick and easy access to. 

It’s not just nice; it’s also a significant competitive advantage.

Let Your Candidate Data Age Naturally

If you have a relatively large candidate database (10,000 to 1,000,000+), you needn’t worry about trying to maintain “relationships” with all of them – it’s actually impossible, unless your definition of “relationship” includes automated emails.

If you’re overly concerned with having ultra-fresh information on all of the candidates in your system at all times - don’t be. It isn’t really necessary.

I’ve called and made easy, frictionless hires with candidates who had records/resumes that had not been updated in 4 years. A seasoned sourcer or recruiter can easily make an educated guess at “career trajectory,” and when you make a call to someone whose resume is not on the Internet, not on LinkedIn, not in an online resume database – you essentially have a candidate no one else has practical, targeted access to – and closing/control is a non-issue when you call with the right opportunity, by design.

Final Thoughts

If you permanently capture data on your target professionals relatively early in their careers, you can cultivate their candidate records as their careers progress, allowing you quick and easy access to them as they evolve into more experienced passive or even non-job seekers – the virtually “ungettable” candidates that your competitors wish they had access to.  

If this approach to valuing and leveraging your candidate data doesn’t appeal to you, and you happen to be growing tired of having to store all of those old, stale resumes in your ATS/CRM – give me a ring – I’d be glad to take them off your hands. :-)

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About Glen Cathey

Glen Cathey is a sourcing and recruiting thought leader with over 16 years of experience working in large staffing agency and global RPO environments (>1,000 recruiters and nearly 100,000 hires annually). Starting out his career as a top producing recruiter, he quickly advanced into senior management roles and now currently serves as the SVP of Strategic Talent Acquisition and Innovation for Kforce, working out of their renowned National Recruiting Center with over 300 recruiters. Often requested to speak on sourcing and recruiting best practices, trends and strategies, Glen has traveled internationally to present at many talent acquisition conferences (5X LinkedIn Talent Connect - U.S. '10, '11, '12, Toronto '12, London '12, 2X Australasian Talent Conference - Sydney & Melbourne '11, '12, 6X SourceCon, 2X TruLondon, 2X HCI) and is regularly requested to present to companies (e.g., PwC, Deloitte, Intel, Booz Allen Hamilton, Citigroup, etc.). This blog is his personal passion and does not represent the views or opinions of anyone other than himself.

  • Gary Cozin

    Like you last sentence “growing tired of having to store all of those old, stale resumes in your ATS/CRM – give me a ring – I’d be glad to take them off your hands”

  • http://www.booleanblackbelt.com Boolean Black Belt

    Gary,
    You’d be surprised at how many companies decide to reduce the size of their resume database because of “aging” candidate data – often resumes of a certain age are simply deleted, if you can believe it!

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/marvsmith Marvin Smith

    Great post–well thought out and best of all–so true. I appreciate your “voice” in the sourcing and recruiting community. Keep up the great conversations.

    My experience with stale candidates is to find the talent that has not been contacted in the past 1-3 years and begin a more committed relationship. What have you found to be your sweetspot?

  • http://www.avature.net Michael Johnson

    Good post. Unfortunately, most ATS’ are so transaction focused that the surplus is discarded. Certainly a fundamental problem with the supply chain model in the traditional ATS. But if you have a good CRM (or you adopt the CRM model in recruiting) that allows users to put meta-data on records (aka tags) over time before you know it you have your own user generated content around a candidate. Imagine a resume that has 3,4,5,or 7 years of meta-data on it where many recruiters in your organization have contributed to that content. Chances are you’d know a hell of a lot of information about that person and it would be easy to retrieve in search. Information is competitive advantage.

  • http://www.brightmove.com Michael Brandt

    As long as their email and contact details are good, resumes are never truly stale. One of the biggest challenges with a lot of ATS systems, in my opinion, are their inability to estimate skill development over time for outside applicants or current employees. We have to assume when people take new jobs, they are continually developing skills. Once ATS systems can track and estimate an applicants ongoing skill set, they will help to increase the value of older resumes.

    Michael G. Brandt
    BrightMove, Inc.
    Applicant Tracking Systems for RPO, HR and Staffing

  • Pam Parker

    Good article! I love searching my database; I believe it is a great source for referrals. You have the skills you require of a candidate that might not be recent, however they are networked in their field of expertise and are very helpful in generating referrals. I do believe you have to be discriminating in what your put in your database so that you have a good starting point of information. Our database even has a link to candidates social networking sites which is great, even if the database information is old, their LinkedIn account is usually updated.

  • http://www.bestresumewriting.com Resume Writing

    Yeah title saying everything…….great article. It is very helpful for fresher guys. There are lots of things are mentioned here which are helpful while writing your resume. I would like to say fresher guys that pls bookmark it…..

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