Team leaderWhen a client project involves resume vetting, I always include in my proposal that I will spend 30 seconds max per resume. This is especially true if I’m vetting hundreds of documents from multiple postings. Just so you aren’t shocked, the recruiting industry average time spent on a resume is 6 seconds. I like to call this: Hunch Based Selection. After years of screening, intuition takes over and you know immediately what’s going to work and what isn’t.

I’ve developed fast process where I sort candidates into “Yes”, “No”, and “maybe” piles. “Maybe’s” are for me to re-examine after all my phone screens are conducted. Sometimes they end up in my “Yes” pile.

“Maybe’s” represent candidates whose experience echoes some aspects of the job but not enough to build a concrete case to interview on paper. Something about the person’s experience stands out, or aspects of their experience may fit with the company culture and the team I’m recruiting for.

Sometimes the work they do hits the periphery of the role I’m recruiting for. Their resume tells me that they have the foundations to learn the job at hand, or possibly to be an asset elsewhere in the company. Something in the resume resonates and I can’t always put my finger on it, it’s a hunch.

Often my ‘Maybe” candidates end up being interviewed and hired. These candidates bring something to the table, and it isn’t always the exact skills the client has asked for. This was the case for a marketing search I did with a client of ours in the not-for-profit sector

I selected 20 candidates to phone screen. From these we selected six for the client to interview (as was her request). Feedback was that candidates were not able to demonstrate experiential marketing and social media effectively when they were asked hypothetical questions. Despite having done the work, they weren’t able to think quickly enough on their feet when given a day in the life scenarios.

After the 3rd interview I sensed we weren’t getting what we were after and so I started to call candidates in my “Maybe” pile. There was one resume in the pile that stood out. She had worked for two health focused not-for-profits but had worked mainly in membership services and event production. Trying to reach her was difficult but I kept at it.

In the first 15 minutes on the phone with her I realised she was indeed a marketer, adept at social media and experimental marketing. Very little of this was on her resume; it came out in the conversation. She was also bilingual like our client. Our phone interview ended just as the client was finishing her 6th interview. I quickly wrote up a profile, sent it and requested an immediate interview time, suggesting that I had a good “feeling” about this candidate.

Ten minutes after her interview, the client called and asked me to make a verbal offer conditional upon references. The verbal was accepted and the references were outstanding. They revealed a stronger alignment with the role and client’s culture than we imagined.

I have a feeling that my “Maybe” candidate wouldn’t have made it to the “Yes” pile unless I followed my gut feel. I don’t think a keyword search would have pulled her out of LinkedIn, Google or an applicant tracking system. She saw an opportunity for growth and that’s why she applied.

She was an active, employed job seeker who after a few years as an event producer realised that she had an untapped talent for marketing, and was missing her roots in not-for-profit and health advocacy. In the end we all got lucky, because the candidate had a hunch and so did I.

We’re still in the throes of our second search, but I can tell you one thing, of the three short listed candidates, one of them was in my “Maybe” pile. I’m wondering if that’ll be hire number two?

Sometimes we have to make decisions even when the indicators for choice don’t line up as expected. Recruiters are pros at doing that and selling it to clients, it’s our professional Mojo. If you’re hiring, why not leverage that when and how ever you can?

That’s Hunch Based Selection.