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How to Lose Passive Talent in 10 Days

I have a few confessions to make.

I’ve never met Kate Hudson.

I’m totally comfortable asking strangers for directions.

My resume is not up to date.

I’m willing to bet that most of us share confession #3.

To me, updating my resume is about as much fun as going to the dentist. The only difference of course is that I actually spend an hour at the dentist twice a year, and then I reward myself with a bowl of ice cream after receiving a thumbs-up from my peeps over at Midwest.

According to the latest numbers, LinkedIn says that 20% of us are actively seeking new employment. In other words, that means it’s very likely that only 1 in 5 of us have our resume up to date.

Perhaps it’s because I am picky, perhaps it’s because I work in the talent acquisition world, or perhaps it’s because I spent the weekend watching Seinfeld on Crave TV and I’m extra neurotic today, but something is really starting to bother me and I’m curious if it is bothering you too.

Let me run you thru a scenario.

Does the following sound familiar?

Day 1: Your eyes meet from across a crowded room…

Well not really (it’s not a “meet cute” either), but a recruiter checks out your profile on LinkedIn. You’re not actively looking for new employment, but frankly you’re curious… so you click on their profile as well. The dance commences.

Day 2: How you doin’?

Well, not really, but that recruiter sends you a connection request. Perhaps it’s a personalized request that shows you that they paid attention to your profile. They care… or maybe they don’t. That would explain the canned connection request that in essence says nothing but “Hey you. Let’s connect”. Either way, you click the blue “accept” button anyway.

What’s the worst that can happen?

Day 3: The courtship begins.

Well, not really, but that recruiter sends you a message that paints a picture of the greatest job ever. Thoughts of a new adventure, a new car, a shorter commute and a whole lot of disposable income dances thru your head. But wait, you have a few questions first…

Day 4: Answering those awkward questions…

What exactly is the company looking for? What’s involved in the job again? Why is the job available? What is the company’s culture like? Is this really a good move for me?

More often than not, you don’t get answers to all of those questions, but you do have a question thrown your way…

Can you send me a copy of your resume?

Wait, what?

Day 5: The first fight.

To this day, I don’t understand why we as recruiters are still so hung up on resumes.

I saw on the news a few years back that the remains of a previously undiscovered mega-dinosaur have been uncovered near the central Argentine town of El Sombrero. You know what they found next to the giant femur?

dinosaurThe dinosaur’s resume scratched onto a flat piece of ancient granite.

That’s how archaic resumes are.

I also don’t understand why we as recruiters continue to expect the passive talent that we are trying to recruit to magically send us updated resumes within 24 hours of our initial contact with them. They are PASSIVE talent… they are NOT actively looking for a new job right now.

They probably have an awesome job already and are amazing at it!


Why on earth are we making passive candidates jump thru hoops before they have even committed to having interest in our reqs?

Day 6-9: The cold shoulder.

That’s right. Crickets.

Day 10: Face it. They’re just not that into you (or your req).

Likely as a result of technological reminders in applicant tracking systems across the globe, it always seems that after a few days of silence, a follow up message is sure to come.

“Just a quick note to see if you have had a chance to update your resume?”

It took me a few years to figure this one out, but from my perspective, the truly elite talent that are capable of changing the game for our customers don’t have time OR see value in polishing their resume, simply for the sake of polishing their resume. They are too busy being fantastic at their existing, awesome job…


An updated resume will NOT be arriving in that recruiter’s inbox any time soon.

Does that mean they are not the best person for the job? No.

Does that mean that they are typically dismissed as a potential candidate? Yeppers.

Does that make any sense at all? Absolutely not.

Day 11: On to the next one.

I get it. We all exist under immense pressure to perform. “Hang in there, kitty” posters exist for a reason. There is a “war for talent” out there.

But here is the thing:

To me, the war for talent doesn’t exist.

It’s completely made up.

You know why?

Because of the barriers that we as recruiters put in front of job seekers are barriers that we have created! If you remove the barriers, you remove the problems!

If you are relying on headhunting and sourcing to attract talent – first of all – consider why you’re not attracting the right job seekers and make it a priority to address that challenge and secondly – remove the imaginary barriers you’ve created for yourself, and start getting comfortable with the idea of leveraging a professional’s LinkedIn profile, blog, GitHub, portfolio ANYTHING that shows their capability as the price of admission to enter your selection process.

Recruiters, it’s time for us to wake up and take a lesson from the woman in the yellow dress.

She’s won a pile of awards, has been nominated for a pile more and she has fantastic teeth.

Guess what?

Her resume probably isn’t up to date… and I doubt she’s going to take the time to update it for us now.


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