In this Best Practices for Hiring installment, I want to touch on how you can maximize your time with another critical area of hiring… resume selections.
We, like most organizations, run at a pretty fast pace. We don’t have a lot of extra time to meet with every individual who sends in a resume or looks good on paper. So we are pretty particular when it comes to going through resumes and selecting candidates who we’ll actually talk to and eventually meet in an interview. We use the same assessment criteria with all of them, regardless of the response rate.
At the Academy, most of our staff will have contact by phone or in writing with our Members, so it is imperative that everyone on board has strong verbal and written skills. We often request cover letters to get a sense of one’s writing abilities. A lot can be revealed with just the cover letter!
Once we get a batch of resumes in, we first quickly scan and reject any resumes with typos, bad grammar or poor punctuation. Also, if they include a primary objective that sounds too generic and not related to the position we have posted, we pass on those as well.
Next, we look at relevant and relatable skills and experience. They likely will not have worked in our niche industry and that is fine. Instead, we look for skills and experience that can carry over into whatever position we are hiring for at the time. If we need someone whose primary role is to be on the phone, we want to meet candidates with relevant customer service, consultative sales, retail or other type of phone work.
If we are hiring an administrative position, we want to see how they have used Word, Excel and PowerPoint in their previous roles and we want a good amount of general office experience. You can usually tell how well they know Word by the layout of the resume. Do they use tables, proper margins, consistent spacing, etc.? As I mentioned earlier, also check for typos and grammar. Are the tenses correct? Are they missing words? Are some descriptions not clear or incomplete?
Lastly, we look for length of time worked in each position. We pass on candidates who have worked a new job every year or two. We don’t want bouncers – those who bounce from one job to the next in the hopes of finding the next best job. We look to hire for the long-term and want individuals who stick out the highs and lows and look for opportunities in a position rather than a way out. Some leave for good reasons yes, but jumping from one job to the next, to yet the next, highlights an area of job selection judgment that should definitely be considered. Will you be next on their resume of past employers? You don’t have to be.
The rule of thumb to remember here is to hire slowly and don’t be afraid to be overly selective. Even if you are under the gun, don’t let the sense of urgency sway you into settling and overlooking obvious issues. If the first batch of resumes do not pass these quick and easy screening steps – keep looking. Know specifically what you are (and are not) looking for and stick to that weeding plan. You will eventually find the right match for your firm.
Director of Member Services
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (800) 846-1555