Sifting through the resume avalanche

By Ben Baldwin

Have you ever hired an employee who didn’t turn out like you expected? The good news is that you’re not alone. The bad news is that, if it’s happened before, there’s even greater reason for it to happen again now, given market circumstances. 

It seems that in these troubled economic times, posting even the most junior position receives a flood of qualified, unqualified and over-qualified responses from job seekers looking for work. 

It’s a sad reflection of the economic crisis unfolding on “Main Street,” that more and more people find themselves unemployed and looking for work – applying to any job posting for all the wrong reasons. 

As a business owner or manager, naturally, the question comes up – how do I take advantage of this situation and find the best candidates while avoiding the wrong ones? 

Having been in the employee hiring and development industry for over ten years, this question has been a driving force in what I do, and is more relevant now than ever before. 

Although there isn’t one easy answer, there are definite steps you can take to ensure that you’re on the right path to finding a candidate that “fits” your work environment and expectations. 

First, know what you want from your employees. Doing this may include writing down a list of the preferred personality traits and specific work experience you’re looking for. Managing your expectations and laying these out at the beginning benefits you, as the hiring manager, as well as your future employee. 

It’s important to hire for both today’s need and tomorrow’s vision. In other words, ensure that your candidate fits your immediate expectations, and will also bring value to your business and objectives in the future. If you can’t envision that the person sitting in front of you will still be with your company a year from now, it’s probably wise to thank them for their time and move on. 

While hiring, take full advantage of the resources available to you. Employee assessment reports, background checks… use as many tools as it takes to make your hiring experience easier and more accurate. Don’t try to be the owner, marketing manager, sales supervisor and HR manager at once; instead, seek out tools to help you in your hiring process. 

Don’t just settle. In times like these, when you have the luxury of receiving a diverse range of applications, take full advantage. Ensure that the person you are interested in does meet the requirements you’ve established, while at the same time bringing additional value to the table. 

And don’t make any impulsive moves by hiring someone based on one meeting. Ensure that the person still excites you during a second interview, after you’ve had time to sleep on it and digest your discussion during the first interview. 

Once you know what you’re looking for and have attracted those people, don’t be afraid to ask questions. In a world where people can obtain post-graduate degrees by answering their spam email, it’s important to confirm the accuracy of the information provided to you. This also means following up on references, as past employers can provide detailed information about an individual and their performance. 

Finally, set aside some time to conduct this process thoroughly. The worst mistake you can make is to speed through the hiring process. This is almost certainly a strategy for disaster, and ultimately, will cost you more time and money in the end.

Always remember, hiring done right is a wonderful experience that results in a more productive and profitable work environment. Take advantage of the resources and tools available to you, and keep in mind that what you put into it is what you’ll get in return.

Ben Baldwin is a Co-Founder of ClearFit.  He has spent the last 12 years founding and growing two software businesses with clients across 5 continents. He specializes in helping companies with their hiring and selection. 

ClearFit is  a web-based tool that makes hiring easy for small businesses, by showing candidates and employers how well they fit.

By Adam

August 23, 2010