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December 14, 2017

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What's a Resume Worth?

Most recruiters view their candidates' resumes as their most valuable asset. However, the value of a resume is never fixed; it rises and falls depending on how it's used.

In my own practice as a retained recruiter, I place a minimal value on the resume to qualify a candidate in the eyes of a hiring manager. Assuming I correctly understand the qualities my client is looking for, and I find a person who meets the specs, then my presentation - or "submission" - of the candidate will result in an interview.

By comparison to recruiters who might send as many as 10 resumes and hope and pray that a certain percentage will pass muster, my submission-to-sendout ratio is one to one. In fact, I generally don't even send a resume to the employer until after I've presented the person over the phone and schedule a phone, Skype or face-to-face interview.

I've found that the more value you give the resume in the submission stage, the more it drains the perception of your value as a recruiter. After all, your job is to successfully identify, recruit and screen candidates. By definition, anyone you refer should be qualified to interview. So if you delegate to the resume the job that you should be doing, you diminish your role in the process and the power you have to influence decisions.

If resumes become the sole currency of your service, you run the risk of resume inflation. Similar to a government printing more and more money to cover its debt, recruiters who send lots and lots of resumes tend to get trapped in a downward spiral in which they commoditize their candidates to the point that none of them have any value. To me, the strategy of "You don't like the 10 resumes I sent last week? I'll just send you 10 more" is unsustainable.

Managing your Resume Assets

The resume, however, is still valuable in the placement process. And I confess to spending a fair amount of time and effort in making sure each of my candidate's resumes functions brilliantly in three different ways.

The first is to verify the information I've shared with the employer. For example, if I've sold the employer on the fact that the candidate has an advanced degree or has extensive experience in industrial automation or has successfully launched new products, then my client's level of confidence will only rise as a result of seeing these accomplishments clearly documented on the resume.

The second function of a resume is to "stage" the candidate, which is a term I borrowed from the world of real estate. When you stage a property, it means that you take an empty shell of a house and dress it up with fresh paint, stylish furniture and accessories so that it sparkles when shown to a prospective buyer.

And so it is when you stage a candidate by associating the person with a resume that's easy on the eyes and pops with relevant, powerful information. By creating an attractive first impression, you set an expectation of excellence. If the resume is really superlative, it can result in "resume love," in which the employer falls head over heels in love with the candidate's resume to such an extent that the interview becomes a mere formality.

The third function of a resume is to prep the candidate and the employer for their interview. By getting the candidate to edit, add and delete the content of the resume, it helps jar his memory and reconfirm his accomplishments. And it gives the employer a foundation upon which to build a set of useful questions.

We know that resumes are woven into our daily lives. The question is whether they're an asset or a liability. Simply put, that all depends on how you use them.

- Bill Radin

Bill Radin is one of the most popular and highly regarded trainers in the recruiting industry, and has trained many of the largest independent and franchised recruiting organizations, including Management Recruiters, Dunhill, Sanford Rose, Snelling and Fortune Personnel. His speaking engagements include the NAPS national conference, the annual Kennedy Conference, and dozens of state association meetings and network conventions, including Top Echelon and Splits.org. The Radin Report is published monthly.