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Opinion: Eliminate time wasters in hiring process

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Time is money. Small-business owners wear every hat in their companies, including accountant, operations manager, sales representative, customer service spokesperson, purchasing agent, human resource manager, information technology guru, clerical support and janitor. They don’t have the luxury of wasting even a minute as they move their companies forward.

When hiring, the two primary time wasters are résumé screening and candidate interviews.

Screen the résumés
When filling one opening in the current job market, an entrepreneur must be prepared to screen an average of 300 résumés. If it takes an average of five minutes to read an entire résumé and decide whether to interview an applicant, résumé screening is a 25-hour time commitment that the entrepreneur doesn’t have.

Out of frustration, many business leaders will likely opt out of reviewing résumés when they tire of them, proceeding only with the applicants that made the “yes” pile before that point. Unfortunately, the ideal candidate who could have significantly impacted company revenue or solved some vexing issues may have been the next résumé in the pile.

The solution is to eradicate time wasters, not to randomly eliminate applicants.

Before screening even one résumé, prepare a job profile listing the minimum qualifications for the position, keeping in mind that expectations that are too high will result in having no candidates from which to choose.

Determine how much and what type of education, experience and specialized training is needed for the available job. Set the pay range and how long you would like the employee to stay with the company. For example, when hiring an administrative assistant, the minimum criteria might be a high school diploma or GED, two years of office support experience and a two-year length of employment period.

When evaluating résumés, remember past behavior predicts future behavior. Review the job seeker’s dates of employment. A job candidate who has stayed with employers for less than two years will likely do the same at a new position, and using the example above, would not be qualified to fill the opening. Read no further and place the résumé in the “no” pile. If the candidate passes the timeframe issue, look next at the education and experience. The second you see there is not a match, put the résumé in the “no” pile. By using this process to screen all applicants, you have just saved 24.5 hours.

Begin the interviews
The next step to saving time is conducting phone screenings. On average, you will have 25 of the original 300 résumés in the “yes” pile. By spending no more than 10 minutes on the phone with each candidate, or 2.5 hours total, you will pare the résumés down to approximately five people to interview. If an applicant’s résumé reflects that the candidate is currently working, verify that this is still the case. If not, put the résumé in the “no” pile because the applicant has falsified information.

Start with the candidate’s most recent position, and work your way back in time. If only the years of employment are provided, ask the month in which employment began and when notice was given that the candidate would be leaving the job. This may reveal that the candidate is a job skipper or has left jobs off the résumé, and is, as a result, not qualified for the available position.

Ask candidates why they resigned or are reconsidering their jobs, and listen for answers that might be potential red flags. If a candidate was terminated or laid off, find out if others were similarly affected and the circumstances.

If a candidate resigned because of a supervisor or co-worker, or due to job duties, ask extensive follow-up questions. The more similar the answers are to what the candidate would encounter in the job opening, the less qualified that person is for the job. For instance, if the candidate left a former job because getting along with the boss was a challenge, and your management style seems to be similar, then the two of you won’t be compatible, either.

Find out about previous pay and benefits. As a general rule, if someone is used to making more money or having better benefits than the hiring company offers, and the candidate takes the position anyway, it’s not likely the new hire will remain in the job for very long.

Begin proper paper and phone screening techniques and reap the benefits as a small-business owner. You may save more than 20 hours in résumé screening time, not to mention even more time through avoiding fruitless interviews. And better yet, these practices may help companies hire the right people who fit – and stay put.

Lynne Haggerman, M.S., is president/owner of Lynne Haggerman & Associates LLC, a Springfield firm specializing in management training, retained search, outplacement and human resource consulting. She can be reached at lynne@lynnehaggerman.com.[[In-content Ad]]

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