Qualified: It’s one of the most loaded subjective modifiers in the HR business. And who’s qualified for a job, and who isn’t, is often determined by that flat piece of paper known as the resume.
According to data derived from interviews with 4,000 hiring professionals and job candidates, there’s a yawning gap between how the HR folks define “qualified” and how job seekers define the word.
The study was commissioned by Beyond, The Career Network. Two questions, one put to those doing the hiring, the other to candidates, revealed the chasm.
HR types were asked why they had trouble filling open positions with good workers. Three-quarters of them said it was because most of the candidates simply weren’t qualified for the position they had applied for.
When candidates were asked why they thought they weren’t being hired for the jobs they applied for, 55 percent of them said because they were up against too many well qualified candidates.
The hard skill/soft skill dichotomy might help explain this apparent disconnect. While HR professionals said hard skills — past jobs held, specific skill sets, degrees — comprised their first pass at a candidate, their decisions hinged more on soft skills — especially interpersonal relationships.
Talk about subjective. So how does a job candidate get that across, especially in the pre-interview stages of the mating dance?
“Job seekers can increase their chances by highlighting hard skills in their resumes and demonstrating soft skills during the interview process,” said Joe Weinlick, vice president of marketing, Beyond.com. “Many job seekers have the right ingredients; now they need to put them in the right order.”
Once the resume is pumped up on hard skills, the candidate needs to forget those skills and focus on interpersonal relationships in the interview itself.
“In this age of social super-connectedness, nothing trumps a warm in-person personality,” career coaching author Jim Stroud, senior director, RPO Recruitment Strategies & Support at Randstad Sourceright, said in a release issued by Beyond. “People have to feel like they can trust you to do the work, and by the end of the interview you need them thinking, ‘Yes, I can share a cubicle with this person for hours at a time.' Managers like to see some of their own personality reflected in a candidate and while qualifications are essential, it’s personality that goes a long way towards helping another person relate to you.”
The survey demonstrated the power of the customized resume. Nearly three-quarters of HR professionals interviewed said they felt job seekers do a “bad job” of customizing their resumes to the particular job for which they are applying. They are correct in their thinking, because only 28 percent of candidates reported customizing their resumes for each job they go after.