What are Dan Holliday's experiences in recruiting American and non-American candidates? Did he find any differences in their personalities or skill sets?
What are the best tips for writing a resume?Most of the candidates I recruit from overseas are from the Indian Sub-Continent. Because of that, and because I’ve befriended quite a few over the past decade, I’ve become well-informed of the cultural differences between Americans and Desi (some people say “use the word” others say, “hey! that’s not right.” I’m sticking with it).Americans tend to be confrontational even when being polite. “Hey, Lakshmi. Listen. I need to submit your resume by tomorrow. This is very important. You absolutely need to review the requirement. I’ve provided a chart for you below to fill out your relevant experience. If you don’t do this by tomorrow, I won’t be able to submit you.” That kind of confrontation works quite well on Americans (in general, but not always ‡ generalizations are a dangerous thing).EDIT: Let’s pause for a second and address “generalizations” so that we keep them locked tightly inside the context of the matter. I do not have four hours to sit here and parse specifics when talking about a large statistical cohort. Of course, there will always be statistical outliers on either end of this bell curve. Nevertheless, generalizations do serve a healthy, not-racist purpose BUT we should confine them to their very narrow space and then question them rigorously.The hive is offended by your generalization!Stereotypes are dangerous but yes, sometimes they’re useful.The American interview style may not augur well (in general) for Desi who haven’t been thoroughly trained on the differences between where they’re from and what is common in the US. I’ve been told by the few sub-vendors that I trust (who are all Indian owned/run) and by the Desi that I work with that when painted into a corner, you will have a tendency to push folks from the Sub-Continent away. It doesn’t work. So, the technique is, “Hey, Lakshmi. I completely understand if you have multiple offers. You’ve got a good resume. Because I want you to take the time and think about if this is a good opportunity for you, I’d like to give me a chance to go over the requirement with you and fill in some details. I will do this with you. But I leave it totally up to you if this is something you’re interested in. Please let me know the best time to call you. If I hear from you, great! If not, then I’ll just assume you found a great opportunity. Maybe our paths will cross again sometime.”I get a lot more activity with the latter communication style than with the Americano communication style. Lastly, once I get an interview scheduled with a client, I make sure to coach my candidates on how to interview. This is true for Indians, Bangladeshis, Chinese and Americans alike. I find that I’m the ONLY recruiter in town who spends 45 minutes to 2 hours coaching a candidate on how to respond properly to interview questions. I tend to focus on the STAR approach not as a “slick, Fuller Brush salesman” technique but because STAR cuts out the bullshit and keeps the candidate focused on answering the question with relevant details in short bursts that give the client a chance to keep the conversation moving the in the direction they like.Because interviewing is like driving, none of us are born really good at it. Simply sending people a link to a YouTube channel or a PDF spreadsheet on STAR is silly. Most people will glaze over it and forget it. I do full-on role playing with candidates and I get them to hone their answering abilities. With just four practice questions (each said over and over about three times), a person can develop a STAR methodology that sticks ALWAYS with the relevant question, doesn’t wander down useless paths and gets the answer out quickly.Most people don’t know how to answer simple questions like, “Tell me about yourself.” Or, “Why do you want to work for us?” These are the MOST anxiety-inducing questions. Still, some people talk too fast. Some people have very thick accents. Every single one of my candidates has always appreciated my candor, “Okay, Dinesh. I’m sure you know you’ve got an accent. Because this is a phone interview and they don’t have the ability to see your face or read lips, understanding you will be a challenge. I want to help you slow down, deliver good enunciation and focus on quick answers that satisfy the question.” These are skills that persist too, so even if they don’t get the job, I’ve helped them get the next one and the one after that.On the whole, Americans are much better at bragging about themselves. This is generally what American companies want. Asians, in general (but not always), tend to focus on group accomplishments. “We” did this. “Involved” in that. It’s a VERY hard thing to get the candidate out of. I’m forced to undo a lifetime of indoctrination in a few hours. It’s actually humiliating for some Asians to talk about their accomplishments to the point of total lockdown. That sucks, because it’s generally why a given candidate may struggle finding a great job.As generalizations go, Asian women are more receptive to the feedback I give. I think it comes with a self-selection process. (Ugh ‡ generalizations, INORITE!?) In a lot of Asian communities, women have the added burden of not only getting an education, but knowing that their job is to stay home and take care of a family. They’re discouraged from getting up and moving to the US. Even when they are given the opportunities, it’s very hard for a young woman to undo the passive indoctrination she gets to “be meek and submissive.” The net effect is that, I find that Asian women tend to be polarized ‡ quiet and meek or totally take-charge. The strongest candidates I submit to clients are always Indian or Chinese women, by far. They’re surmounting hurdles that no man has to climb and in doing so, they are selected by ordeal to be just that much stronger.I placed a BA at Kroger a few years ago who was from India. She cracked me up. Bold would be an insult in not being strong enough to describe her. Pristine English (hint of British and Indian accent). Knew her shit like nobody’s business. I took her to lunch and asked her about her story. She’s one of two daughters. Age 18, she tells her parents, “Mom. Dad. I’m moving to the US to go to college. I’m marrying my high school sweetheart. I plan on staying there.” She continues, “I figure, they realized that there was no fighting my ‘love marriage‡ and my desire to go to the US.” Then I meet her husband and I see the connection: meek, mild-mannered. Shy to a fault. Opposites!I have a great deal of respect for ANYBODY who can walk away from their family and culture and come here to find work. I would prefer a visa system that allows any American-educated person to remain here indefinitely as long as they have a job. After 5 years, they automatically get a green card. That dream will never come true. But no matter who it is —and I work with people from all over the world‡ it’s not easy coming to the US and having to deal with all these cultural opposites.