Recruiting and Hiring for Small Business – Step 5 Resume Audit

Whether recruiting for a President or a part-time employee, a resume audit should allow a minimum of two weeks for all potential candidates to hear or read about the available position.  For more senior and executive positions, the standard time for the ‘candidate attraction’ stage is six weeks.  If you receive an application from a candidate that seems to have all the right elements before the two – six week period, then by all means respond.  In this labour short market, following up quickly is essential.  Hiring on the spot is poor recruiting practice.

To audit a resume doesn’t require specialized training, it requires a strong understanding of what the position requires and a strong understanding of the objectives/culture of the company.  It really helps if you know the culture of the companies where the candidate has previously worked.  If you are a small, entrepreneurial business selling merchandise at retail, choosing to interview a candidate from The Brick MAY be problematic.  The Brick, like most other major national or international retailers with thousands of employees, will have strong policies and procedures that everyone must follow.  These candidates may have been encouraged to work with the larger employer to the employer’s satisfaction, but really creative solutions to problems are discouraged.  The point is, when interviewing a large company employee and you are a small two person company, questions asked should definitely involve hearing how policy driven this employee is.  Some companies will not allow employees to venture away from the policies at all, and the content of the policies may be very different from your policies.  This is called balancing cultures and resumes from candidates with a shiny resume that includes a series of huge sized employers may have had the benefit of excellent internal training, but may not be a good fit for your business.

Within this series you’ve heard the term ‘wish list’ fairly frequently.  During the construction of the job description and then the job posting or advertisement, there has been caution not to outline a job that is impossible to execute or include qualifications that could only be held by individuals that likely wouldn’t be interested in the position.  A PHD in Microbiology might want an hourly paid labourer position to pay some bills, but how long would he/she stay?  On the other hand, if the resume of any candidate indicates an odd position along with a progression of appropriate positions, this doesn’t mean they should be rejected.  It simply means this is a key question to ask in the interview.  People make job changes for a wide, wide variety of reasons, and the ‘why’ will tell you a great deal about the individual.

Questions for the interview should be compiled ahead of the interview and should be specific to each candidate.  Here is a brief discussion about telephone interviews – it’s good practise to have a preliminary telephone interview when auditing a number of resumes.  It helps to pick out the leading candidates and often helps to decide whom to reject.  The conversation should be primarily about the culture of the company, the history and the future, and why this position is desirable for the right candidate. The practise of only conducting interviews over the telephone, or on Skype, or on Facebook Live  however, is poor practise in the strong opinion of this writer who has never referred a single candidate without meeting with them first.  Individuals over the phone can be dramatically different than in person and his/her conduct and body language and communication skills in a face to face interview are components that must be included in a hiring decision.

Here are a few more ways to effectively choose which candidates to interview including an audit of their past employers.  Depending on the position to be hired for, a careful read of the resume and perhaps covering letter will provide you with more insight into not only communication skills (punctuation, grammar) but also understanding of the position offered and what they think their strengths are.  Some excellent candidates have been rejected before interviewing because of some spelling errors in their resume.  It seems inexcusable in this era of Spell Check and famous phrasing applications, but if the position doesn’t require constant written communication, and in this labour short market, could the spelling/grammar not be improved after hire?  If you are hiring a plumber and the plumber records on this resume his current employers name and describes his position as ‘doing plumbing jobs’ – well, that’s OK.  But if he/she didn’t record that he has a valid plumber’s license, this would definitely be something to ask right up front in a preliminary telephone call.

It is worthwhile to mention here that there are Employment Laws regarding recruiting and hiring of individuals.  Once a decision is made as to whom to interview, there is no leeway that allows for the asking of personal questions.  If the candidate offers during the discussions that he/she has a health condition, or a family circumstance or whatever that you perceive may interfere with the execution of the employee’s duties, it is against the law to ask the question without the approval of the candidate.  In a nutshell, all candidates must be judged on capabilities alone and any perception of anything different is not acceptable.  Likely anyone reading this series of articles is well aware of these conditions – this is just a reminder.

Here is a rant that had been delivered by the writer throughout her career.  EVERY applicant deserves an answer as to the status of their application.  In this day where form letters can be sent to a number of recipients easily and quickly, it is frustrating and potentially rude to not acknowledge an application.  Yet thousands and thousands of employers do not acknowledge applications.  For every candidate this writer interviews, there is a short discussion out the recruiting profession and/or employers who don’t even bother to acknowledge receipt of an application/resume, even after several stages of interviewing takes place. Even if it is ‘just’ a form letter, the recipient knows where they stand.  Some candidates will call and ask where they stand, but most don’t.  For the little amount of time it takes – it can be emailed and does not have to be a mailed letter – your standing in the community as an employer is greatly raised.  Perhaps that candidate is not perfect for the position at hand, but may be just the right employee for a new position that arises later in the year???

In the final step next Monday we will discuss more on the actual interviewing process and a few tips on making the final decision plus some reference checking points.

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