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Getting Found on Monster [Part I]

I hate to wreck your high opinion of me, but I spent last night trolling Monster for candidates.  Yep.  Clearly, not all of my candidates come from Monster, but some do.  The trick is finding them.

Monster gets a bad rap, as do the other major job boards.  As I mentioned in a previous post, there are 44 million resumes on Monster, and 17 million on CareerBuilder.  And there's much less overlap than you'd think.  They are great resources, and I don't care how much you have heard about Google's disintermediation of job boards.  Not gonna happen.

Due to the volume of resumes on the major job boards, everyone assumes that the candidates are crap.  Not true at all.  Yes, Monster is a very densely packed universe, so it's much harder for the stars to shine.  But the stars are there if you know how to look.  And candidates:  You can get found a lot more easily if you know how to post your resume on Monster.

What_i_seeThat's the point of this post.  At left is a screen grab of a daily email I receive from Monster.  All of the major boards offer this feature.  Pretty simple, actually.  I set up a search "bot" for each position I'm trying to fill, and each day Monster automatically emails to me the latest candidates who match my search's criteria.  So, if I have five searches going on, I get five Monster emails a day [plus any that come in from the other job boards].

But it's never as easy as it looks.  In fact, it's freaking tedious to look at hundreds of resumes.  Although I've never read Malcolm Gladwell's book, Blink, I've heard him on C-Span chatting about how quickly we humans make big decisions in the blink of an eye.  And let me tell you:  I can scan a resume in a big fat ugly hurry.  I feel like a triage nurse in a hospital emergency room -- deciding in an instant who gets treated and who doesn't.  And it all starts with the headline.

The Horrible Truth about Recruiters

If your Monster resume headline stinks, I won't open your resume.  No recruiter will.  Nothing personal against you.  It's just that we can't open it.  You haven't given us a reason to, and there's a resume right below yours that might look more relevant.  Look at the following headlines from my Monster email above [my observations are in red]

  1. Technical Director/Sales Engineer - Too vague.  Director of of technical what?
  2. Direct Marketing/Sales - Too broad.  Marketing taxonomies included B2B, B2C, domestic and international -- just for starters.
  3. Vice President Supply Chain - What industry?  It makes a difference.
  4. Senior level Business Developer w/MBA - See my comments about the sales director.
  5. Director Engineering - Too vague.  What platforms?  Java?  .Net?  Linux?
  6. Director, Product Management - Huh?
  7. Director IT, Result oriented, leadership, team leader, data management - I dunno.  At minimum, the guy repeats himself.  Aren't "Leadership" and "Team Leader" the same thing?
  8. Architectural Engineer Graduate with Mechanical Engineering Experience - Are you fresh out of school?  Can't tell.
  9. Application Development Manager - Too vague.  What platforms?  Java?  .Net?  Linux?  Again, I'm in a hurry.
  10. CHARLENE A. THARP-Human Resources/Beneifts/Payroll/Safety - No need to put your name.  Misspelled "benefits."  Next!

My advice to candidates:  Change your headline to tell us what we need to know:  Function / Company / Industry / Salary / Relocation preference.

Like this:  Email Marketing / Land's End / Multichannel Retail / $85K / Will Relo

If you can add your SIC code next to your industry, so much the better.  It won't matter to most recruiters, but it will matter to some.  At a minimum, you should use OSHA's SIC code lookup to identify your industry, even if you don't refer to the numeric code.  My point is, the more specific you can be, the better your headline will pull.

Don't believe me?  Suppose we were standing 100 feet apart on a crowded subway platform and you wanted to get my attention.  You wouldn't simply yell "Hey, you!"  You'd be as specific as possible, yelling something like "Hey, tall white guy with one eyebrow!"  Or better yet:  "Hey, HARRY JOINER!!"

The Law of Specificity applies here.  Imagine what that headline would look like in a recruiter's daily Monster email.  Trust me, your open rates will skyrocket.  Do not worry about pigeonholing yourself as "just an email marketer."  Your career objectives won't matter at all if no one sees your resume.
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Comments

Hi Andrew,

Stay tuned. I'm working on a post for that which should appear in the next 10 days.

hair

Harry,

I recently resigned from HR consulting in Los Angeles to relocate to Boise and to pursue a work environment focused more on creativity and strategy (marketing/brand management/advert). Do you have any advice for "Getting Found" when a candidate is looking to change careers/industries, particularly when my experience favors project management/consulting, not marketing?

Jim,

Thanks for the follow up. Yes, candidates hate to be pigeonholed -- like actors hate to be typecast. But I always go back to the idea that it's better to have a small circle of competence that is sharply defined than one that's big and fuzzy.

But you are right: there is no penalty for being vague. At least no penalty that the candidate can see. The penalty that they can't see is that a headhunter with good searches [like me] won't open their resume.

It's good advice Harry, but far too many candidates want to game the system, not target the right recruiters.

They use words like team leader and leadership because they think these key words are what recruiters will focus on - being specific as to actual experience means you can only get jobs you already have.

If the candidate wants to be a team lead, they'll put it in the title to make sure no one contacts them who isn't offering some kind of management.

Other candidates put vague titles to draw a bigger net. You see this same phenomenon with applications, where CEO's and waiters with 6 credits apply for the same java developer position because they think the recruiter will have something for them.

There is no obvious and immediate penalty for job-seekers, and perceived reward for vagueness.

The only solution, I fear, is calling every candidate in the country and telling them enough is enough.

I figure a $20 dollar a call is a fair rate, 12 calls an hour, carry the one...

Very insightful advice. I cannot imagine trying to filter through the same 'type' of headlines over and over. Good tips on setting yourself apart.

Hi Mark. No, I don't. Call an IT recruiter and show them this post and see what they say. My guess is that the appearance is probably similar.

Harry -

Do you know how the titles come across in Dice emails from your side of the table? Doesn't look like there is a straight "title" field for a job seeker to edit?

-- Mark

I like the point about the how people title things. It seems like people are getting vague about what they do. I have found that even when I hired a new assistant manager for my CRC it seemed like every resume was vague and general.

Chris,

Thanks for the feedback. I understand and appreciate your POV. However, I put job board candidates in play all the time.

Think of job boards as one distribution channel for your resume in much the same way as a major interstate highway might be one viable route to work. Yes, very often you'll have to contend with major traffic jams, unsightly billboards, etc -- but the route can get you where you want to go if you know how to navigate it. And there are things one can do to reduce the travel time.

Harry, I appreciate your advice. You present a side of Monster et al. I have not yet considered. However, on the job-seeker side (Rewards Program Management Intern / MBA Student / Marketing Services-specifically services or product Branding / 50K / Tulsa Area only), I finally decided to give up on Monster-type warehouses. The marketing jobs posted seem to focus on such a small slice of the marketing industry. I have received numerous Monster-fed e-mails appealing to my "entrepreneurial spirit" (read: make cold calls on a commission-only basis) that I simply began to categorically delete anything I saw that had been directed to me from these sites. (And my sneaking suspicion is that these e-mails are going to anyone posting resumes in the Marketing category.) All the while, execs. and firms are secretly skimming the submitters without taking care of their part of the deal: posting the juicy jobs!

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