Look beyond the resume when hiring

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“Honestly, I think resumés are a waste of time,” Jim Belosic, CEO of ShortStack wrote in a piece on the Daily Muse. And in ten years as an employer he claims never to have relied on them when making hiring decisions.

There are two main problems with resumés, Belosic says. First of all, it’s human nature to exaggerate the roles and responsibilities that we have held and, secondly, there are many things that a resumé simply cannot tell you about a candidate. To combat this, Belosic uses some non-traditional techniques to assist him in looking beyond the boasts.

Pay extra attention to the application:

The CEO pays close attention to how candidates handle the initial application to his company. “Do applicants craft a personalised, interesting cover letter and follow up with an email or phone call a week later? Or do they simply fire off their resumé without taking the time to interact beyond that?”, he asks of each candidate.

Belosic also uses a simple trick to test which candidates are paying close attention to the instructions he gives. He will often insert an instruction to include a hashtag (such as #iactuallyreadthis) in the applicant’s cover letter. If someone doesn’t, then it’s clear that he or she is not paying sufficient attention to detail and are probably not right for the role.

Do more than ask questions at the interview:

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t ask the standard questions in an interview, but Belosic also likes to test how a candidate might perform on the job during an interview and how they would fit into the company culture. If hiring someone to answer the phones, he suggests doing a mock phone call, if hiring a developer, have him or her refactor some code, or if hiring a project manager, have him or her review a project outline and discuss.

“You’ll also want to look beyond the skills and experience to make sure the candidate fits well with your company culture”, Belosic says. For example, he wants to find out how a candidate is when relaxed so he might invite a prospective employee to Friday lunch with the team.

Use references correctly:

Employers should exploit an employee’s references to their full potential, according to Belosic. “I’ll ask references about the candidate’s work performance, but I’ll also ask what the person’s sense of humour is like,” he says. This helps you judge whether he or she is a good fit for the organisation. “Think of what matters to you and your company culture, and use that as a guide for questions.”

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