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February 3, 2020

6 Fresh Tactics for Discovering Top Talent

Hiring managers receive an average of 250 resumes for every job opening. That’s a lot of documents to pour through. And let’s be honest, the majority of those resumes get no more than a cursory scan. That means putting qualifiers on how you’ll “score” each resume, which typically include things like job experience and degree prestige. It likely also includes tossing out resumes with certain disqualifiers.

The truth is that making assumptions based on a single document can cause you to dismiss highly qualified candidates. It’s time to look at the hiring process differently, and that means reviewing resumes with fresh eyes in 2020. Here are 6 tips that can help you discover top talent.

Tip #1: Pause Before You Open the File

You can learn a few things about a candidate before even opening a resume. If it arrived via e-mail, what insights can you gather from the note that accompanied the file? If it arrived via a third-party site like Indeed, was there a note? What can you glean from the candidate’s profile? Even the resume file name (i.e. Position_Lastname_Date or Firstname_Lastname_Resume) can tell you something about their communication and organization skills.

Reality Check:

  • Using the same third-party sites you’ve always used could cause you to miss out on potential candidates who don’t use those traditional platforms. Think about using a mix of standard and non-traditional sources this year.
  • Some professionals will only use private staffing firms or headhunters so their current employer won’t know they’re searching for a new position. Working with these firms can uncover candidates you’d otherwise not know about.

Tip #2: Reserve Judgement

Scan resumes for keywords, gaps in employment, signs of job hopping, and typos, but remember that a quick scan can’t tell you all there is to know about a candidate. If you’re one of the 77% of hiring managers who think that’s an instant deal breaker, it might be time to let go of some long-held beliefs.

Reality Check:

  • If you can spot a spelling error a mile away, go ahead and highlight it, but hold off on sending that resume through the shredder. A grammatical mistake that goes undetected by spell check shouldn’t disqualify an otherwise strong candidate. Ask them to identify their typo during the interview. If they can’t find it, you’ll have your answer.
  • An employment gap shouldn’t necessarily throw up a red flag. Professionals take time away from work for many reasons, from paternity leave to health issues. Make a note to ask about it during the interview.

Tip #3: Look for Clues

While the words in a resume will tell you what the candidate wants you to know, the style and layout can provide further proof of their background and experience. Modern resume trends tend to favor a simple, clean and well-organized layout, but depending on the role, you might be looking for characteristics other than organized and efficient.

Reality Check:

  • A non-traditional layout, such as an infographic or timeline, can show a candidate’s creative thinking skills.
  • A resume that uses color, lines, and fonts to effectively highlight experience and achievements might tell you the candidate has strong design skills.

Tip #4: Dig for Gold

A typical resume includes contact info, education, experience, and skills, and its length should be as long as necessary to provide a clear picture of the candidate. Don’t box yourself in, though. Be open to non-traditional:

Career paths. Not every candidate takes a traditional path from college to an internship to their first job and beyond. A candidate who put work before education might have been supporting a family. Another who went back to school after years in a specific industry might be brave and tenacious. Look for volunteer experience, academic internships, freelance projects and other non-traditional experience.

Education. Unless the position requires a specific degree, consider applicants who don’t have a traditional master’s, or even a bachelor’s. Look for experience that can take the place of education or degrees in other fields of study.

Skills. Some skills are necessary, but also look for skills that might not tie neatly into the job description. Don’t rule out a candidate simply because they don’t have a background in your industry. Someone with bartending or waitressing experience, for example, likely has strong multitasking and customer service skills.

Reality Check:

  • Professionals who took time off of work to raise their children were about half as likely to get called in for an interview as people who had been working but were unemployed for other reasons, according to one study. But these professionals are typically strong problem solvers with time management and negotiating skills.
  • A stretch of unemployment shouldn’t be an automatic deal breaker. What the candidate did with their time might matter more than their professional experience. Look for volunteer hours, non-profit work, or classes, certifications or degrees earned during that timeframe.

Tip #5: Look Beyond the Resume

Even if an applicant has a perfectly formatted resume detailing an impressive career that fits the position, it’s smart to dig a little deeper. Interviews can be stressful and make candidates nervous – which could lead to a less-than-ideal performance. And admittedly, we’re all on our best behavior for an interview. How will you know if this candidate really does fit into your company’s culture? How can you be sure that their values truly match those of your brand?

Reality Check:

  • Conduct an audit of their online presence. Would you be comfortable with this person representing your brand online? Look for information that supports their qualifications, see what others are saying about them, and keep an eye out for inappropriate public posts.
  • Ask insightful questions of at least two references.
    • What was their greatest strength?
    • Name one weakness that could be turned into a strength with the right leadership.
    • What accomplishment stands out in your memory?
    • If you had the opportunity to hire them again, would you? For the same position or something else?

Tip #6: Take a Test Drive

It’s not uncommon for companies to run a test or “pilot” program before launching new software or processes. These programs help leadership determine whether they’re worth the cost, and if any modifications are necessary. The same can be said for hiring new staff. A temp-to-hire solution provides both your company and the candidate an opportunity to see whether the role is a good fit.

Reality Check:

  • In addition to evaluating their quality of work, this model allows you to determine culture fit. Does the new team member take initiative? Build relationships? Show a desire to learn?
  • If you’re hiring for a net-new position, do the demands of the job truly require a full-time employee, or might a part-time or even a remote employee be sufficient?

Identifying the best candidates requires some letting go of outdated rules and standards. If you’re searching for the perfect candidate, JurisTemps can help. Our longstanding relationship with St. Louis-based legal professionals can save you time and result in a better outcome. Learn more about our process here.

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