Why do applicants send their CV to the CEO?

Monday, December 22nd, 2008 - Employer, recruiters

Professional CV

Bob asks: I’ve been in staffing and recruitment for almost 19 years (both contingency search and corporate) and am puzzled at the logic behind sending your resume to the CEO of a company. Unless the company is relatively small (say less than 20 people) and the CEO is, in title only, the Chief Executive Officer, the likelihood of your resume ever getting to their desk is virtually nil, and rightfully so. The typical CEO is a strategic executive whose function rarely, if ever, is to open or read unsolicited mail that’s addressed to them, let alone to screen resumes for their relevance to any position within their company. Even executive level searches that involve the CEO (from the perspective of interviewing, at least) typically involve a member of human resources, or some designated gatekeeper to receive the resumes submitted, and often, to do the initial candidate screening. So….why do applicants send their CV to the CEO?

In answer:

You have given some great reasons for not sending a CV direct to a CEO Bob, but the reverse side question is – why not?

There are many candidates who complain vehemently about recruiters and HR types who don’t engage, or don’t return phone calls, etc. The CEO is the top of the company, so if you have been rejected elsewhere by other organisations, then what have you got to lose?

The advantage from the applicants view point is that if you write to the CEO, much as though you may not get to the CEO, the system around them will ensure you do get to the right place in the organisation – if your skills are considered good enough. So rather than being at the bottom of a cue in HR, you have the note attached “The CEO thought you might be better to handle this.”

The problem is, not one solution will fit all organisations. For instance, it would almost be pointless writing to the CEO of Cisco, knowing there is a seven interview/eleven step process to go through before anyone can be hired: you might get a better reception on the first step! However, if the CEO of an organisation was known to you, why write to the very nice lady in HR or the recruiter in the flashy suit asking if they have any jobs?

The problem with modern candidates is that they are lazy. Used to a culture which exists mainly online, if they can send 200 eMails in one hit, and get five jobs interviews then they are happy – they got a job. To them that is five successes – where as to you and I Bob, that’s 195 failures! A bit of research into company using the same internet, would tell them what the key focuses and projects of that company were, what they are seeking, and what the hiring process to get in is. But in their mind it is far easier to send out 200 CEO addressed eMails, than do less work doing more research on the companies that they would really like to work for – when still less than 60% of applications sent have a Cover Letter, do we need more evidence than this lack of care and culture of ease?

It’s that human element Bob that means that there will be, despite the internet and the jobs boards, a recruitment industry going in 100 years – people buy from people. The tools may change, but the power of a warm handshake, a conversation and a resultantly trusted relationship to “keep the wood good” will never change. And while average candidates keep pushing the send button, the CEO’s will keep talking to recruiters like you and I.

Good Luck Bob!

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