The Resume -- that document that underlies nearly every deal -- was largely an afterthought. A Send Out meant sending out a person, not a resume. The "Send me the resume" objection was insidious enough to warrant its very own chapter in the white binder (one memorable rebuttal: "I respect you too much to send you this candidate's resume.") In fact, not being able to land a job order without sharing a resume was the first misstep in a Rookie's descent to the HR plane of existence from whence no Biller could ever hope to return. With clients, we recruiters acted as though the resume was a formality for people without our paranormal ability to sense talent.
Once we negotiated terms, we could finally unleash the resume. But we did not spend much time on them - we made sure they covered the basic points of the opportunity and were free from glaring typos. Maybe we put our Office's contact information in the footer so no one could forget where it came from, but that was typically the extent of our formatting effort. We might send a mix of Word and PDF resumes, of different lengths and levels of detail. The writing quality was all over the place. The goal was simply to secure the send-out, get the resume on file, and let the candidate win the job in the interview. When candidates asked us for resume advice, we sent them a "How To" list corporate provided or one we found online.
My first 4 months were a nightmare. I was an introvert in an extrovert's job, a former copyeditor with a baby, no money, and no placements. I persisted and found success in areas of the business that played to my writing strengths. I spent nights and weekends recreating candidate resumes in a standard format, writing engaging summaries to accompany submittals, designing process documents and marketing collateral, submitting articles, editing 90-day business plans, and building presentation and tracking decks.
Things started to change: Candidates said their "resume rhinoplasty" gave them more confidence in interviews. Clients loved the presentations -- I started winning retained business and earning higher fees. Writing became my weapon -- soon I was making presentations and closing scripts for the entire office. I was getting referrals and access to A-players who appreciated the way I made them look on paper. At conferences, and everyone knew me from the articles I had written for trade publications. I still had the occasional butterflies in my belly when I picked up the phone, but they were much easier to endure when I was on the ranking sheets every month.
I've enjoyed a fantastic run. I wasn't a "natural" out of the gate, but once I learned to overlay my writing/editing background onto the recruiter's desk, I excelled. These days I love collaborating with recruiters to give them an edge that helps them make placements and builds their brand.
Larry Lebofsky, Chief Resume Surgeon
February 2002. My first day at a new recruiting firm. I'm handed a white binder filled with everything I need to know about making placements. It contains some dubious rebuttals (Hiring Manager: "We don't have a position for your candidate." Recruiter: "You will make a position for this candidate") alongside advice that proved correct for the next 20 years (e.g., you have a better chance of placing a more senior candidate slightly above the salary range than a junior candidate slightly below). Such wisdom was hammered into us in morning meetings, at regional workshops, and through hard-earned experiences over the upcoming years.
The focus of the training was sales, balance, and planning: marketing in the morning and recruiting in the afternoon. Phones off at 4 PM, plan, repeat. Training topics included how to ask insightful questions, consultative needs analysis, matching, presenting, prepping, pre-closing and debriefing, negotiation, counteroffer prep, on-boarding. Each step of the process had been dissected and studied for decades, every possible inefficiency identified and repaired. Except for one critical piece. . . .