March 9, 2011

Things to Know Before Reviewing Your First Resume

Shannon Tinker

Shannon Tinker

Things to Know Before Reviewing Your First Resume

By Shannon Tinker

Hallelujah!  You’ve been given the green light to add employees to your team and not a moment too soon.  Your team has been in the trenches since the economy’s infamous downturn and despite your efforts, your hiring budget has remained nonexistent.  Your new hiring breakthrough is exciting and it’s tempting to start the candidate search ASAP.  Evaluating some key elements before jumping into the candidate pool with both feet can ensure a successful search, and minimize the level of frustration for you and your team.

Approval Reality Check:

A candidate search is a time consuming endeavor.  Avoid spinning everyone’s wheels until you are 110% sure that you have the OK to hire.  Be honest with yourself and others, and identify any potential roadblocks.  If possible, get the requisition and budget approval in writing. The OK for a new hire can still get snagged out from under you but do your best to ensure that the job is “real” and the budget realistic.

Define The Job:

Assess and define what your new employee will do.  Understand your expectations for the new hire and outline his daily tasks.  Distinguish between skills that are required and those that are desired.  Be realistic; take a hard look at what you need, what you want and what you can live without.  Many skills can be taught to a candidate that has the right personality, smarts and logic.  It’s nearly impossible to train someone to be more intelligent or to have better social skills.  Decide what’s important.

Stake Holders and Consensus:

The new hire will be valuable to more than one department or group. Meet with the key people who have a vested interest in filling the position. Discuss expectations and try to get everyone on the same page. Suzy from Customer Support may expect your new hire to be the point person for troubleshooting support calls, while Jim wants your newbie to spend 70% of his day writing code. Take the time up front to talk it through and to challenge each other.  Ultimately everyone will have an opinion and will want to be heard.

Evaluate the feedback and decide what’s best for your team and the company.  It may help to put the finalized job description in front of the group so everyone is aware of the end goal.  This may be the perfect time to choose your team of interviewers.

Personality Traits:

After you have defined the job, identified the internal customers, and peers, your new hire’s required personality traits may seem obvious. The importance of personality fit should not be under estimated. Beth Gilfeather, CEO of Jobspring/Workbridge sums this up well:

“Listen, it’s pretty simple. Assuming a candidate has the requisite skills for the job, the actual and final hiring decision is almost always an emotional (and even subliminal) one…Remember that [you] almost always will have 2-3 qualified people to choose from. And [you] will choose the one [you] like the most. Period…end of story.”

While personality is, well, personal; don’t assume you’ll know it when you see it. Evaluate and discuss the traits needed to make the team most effective along with your chosen interviewers.  A person with a strong outgoing personality could take on a much needed leadership role or, succeed in the role of diplomat, offering fresh insights to your headstrong team. Someone with excellent communication skills, assertiveness, and charisma may be best at appeasing VIP customers. Discuss your discoveries with the others on your interview team so they can offer their opinion as you start the process.

Understand Hiring Procedures:

It’s best if you have a handle on your company’s approval process for hiring new employees.  Refrain from ignoring onboarding logistics.  While the actual process of onboarding may be out of your control, understanding the process is in your control. Knowledge is power and if you can educate candidates about what is involved you can avoid losing your next potential employee unnecessarily. Understand if you need a signature here, a P.O. there, here a signature, there a drug test and, everywhere a background check…Also, understand the amount of time all of this takes so you can be realistic about when a new hire can start to work for you.

Make a Plan:

Talk to your internal HR and recruiting teams to download everything you have learned about what you want in a candidate and ask them to explain the steps they plan to take.  If you are anxious to fill the position, evaluate what you can do on your own.  Will you scour the job boards? Post the job on Craigslist? And make the calls directly to applicants or candidates that look appropriate? Explore internal referrals and referrals from your own network.  Hiring a referral can be the easiest and, fastest way to get good new hires.

Consider your hiring budget and decide if you can afford to outsource your recruiting to specialized firm.  If you do not have the budget to pay agency finder’s fees, ask if HR has room in their budget.  While HR ultimately will not want to pay an outside source, in a contingent search the fee is only applicable if the agency identifies the right candidate.

Ask friends, peers and acquaintances you trust to recommend outside agencies with whom they have enjoyed working.  Only work with a couple of recruiters at least to start. Form a partnership with a recruiter who understands your requirements well and who will focus on only sending candidates that meet your qualifications. Working  with a number of different resources can be frustrating and an unproductive way to spend your time.

* “The Candidate Advantage”; Making It Easier On Hiring Managers…Makes It Easier On You!; Beth Gilfeather; January 21, 2011

About the Author:

Guest blogger, Shannon Tinker, successfully recruited for over a decade in various high tech fields. She is a multifaceted writer who entertains in her blog Reinventing Tinks on coming to terms with post-burn out. Shannon’s professional writings encompass subjects on hiring, interviewing, talent management, and other recruiting-related subjects.

See all Shannon’s articles.

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1 Comment »

  1. [...] month, I offered some pre-resume reviewing steps for preserving time and sanity during the hiring process.  Hiring isn’t rocket science.  You [...]

    Pingback by How to Hire the Best Candidate: Get Out of Your Own Way | Hook, Line & Sinker — April 14, 2011 @ 6:02 AM

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