If you were to take a poll of hiring managers and business owners, many of them would cite resumes as the most important piece of a candidate’s application, but should it be? If you usually focus most of your attention on an applicant’s work history, you may be missing out on some seriously stellar options. In this post, we’ll discuss some alternative elements you should integrate into your hiring and evaluation process, because it’s not all about the resume.
Review resumes, but be open-minded
Looking at resumes is a quick and relatively straightforward way to glean insight on an applicant’s work experience and education, but oftentimes, it’s a narrow representation of what they can actually do. When you’re reviewing resumes, search for things that match your priorities on a high-level, rather than trying to pair up your job description and their experience to a tee. Your applicants probably won’t have the same exact skills needed for your open position, but they may have some relevant ones, or some that will help improve your workflow or expand your services.
As you go through resumes, try to be open-minded and think about what relevant skills would work for the position and what wouldn’t.
Evaluate cover letters
Another useful piece of information you should use to your advantage is an applicant’s cover letter. Cover letters are a great way to get a better understanding of a candidate’s experience, personality, and drive, so they definitely shouldn’t slide across your desk without a second look.
When you’re reviewing a cover letter, be on the lookout for spelling errors and grammatical mistakes—especially if you’re hiring someone who will write emails or content. Time-saving tip: Run the file through an online writing assistant to quickly identify errors. Also, pay attention to how they talk about your organization. Do they just want a “job,” or do they demonstrate a genuine interest in your organization? Someone that’s inspired by your business in particular, is more likely to be a good fit, and it shows that they’ve done their research.
Weigh in life experience
While your candidate might not have had a job that’s very similar to the available position, they may have volunteer experience or life experience that makes them a good applicant to move forward in the hiring process. By incorporating personality and experience-based questions in your phone screening or in-person interview, you can learn valuable information about your prospective new hire.
Consider academic history
Just like life experience provides an opportunity for development, so does school. Your candidate might be entry-level, but could have an elevated understanding of your industry, thanks to their higher education. Just be sure to do an education verification check to ensure that their academic honors are authentic.
Assess company fit
When you’re desperate to get an extra pair of hands on deck, it’s tempting to just refer to an individual’s resume without thinking about the long-term. Finding a candidate that embraces your company’s culture will be more likely to feel satisfied at work and you’ll have a higher chance of retaining them for longer.
When you’re interviewing an applicant, be sure to ask about why they are interested in the position, but also dig into why they want to work for your organization specifically. Additionally, you should ask what kind of company culture they’re on the hunt for—does it sound like yours, or is it nearly the opposite? This information will help you curate a team that’s passionate and in it for the long-haul.
Test for skills
Your candidates may claim to have a wealth of knowledge and experience, but how will you really know until you see for yourself? One way to boost the quality of your hires and dive deeper than their resumes is by testing their skills. Many companies that hired skilled workers will conduct a preliminary skills test. Public pools test lifeguards for first-aid, web development agencies test coding skills, and publications test journalists on their writing and research abilities. It’s very common practice, and it’s easy to see why!
Look for positive personalities
Above all, you want employees that move your business goals forward and contribute positively to your company culture. These are typically the people that will be happy to go the extra mile and stick with your business through the good and bad. As you’re interviewing and corresponding with a candidate, look for positivity, graciousness, and flexibility.
We want to hear from you—let us know how these tips work out!