Surviving HR: Screening Job Applicants Part 1

My company is growing at a rate of 25-50% annually, which means I do A LOT of hiring. I hire for a range of positions from administrative data entry to production assistants. As we talked about in my last post, Surviving HR: Where to post your job listings, I use different job post sites based on the position I am hiring for. I have better luck using Indeed for office administrative positions and using Craigslist for production positions.  Since I screen resumes differently for each department I think it makes the most sense to make a blog for each.  Lets first talk about screening applications for my production department…

Step one: Confirming position eligibility
Did the applicant follow the directions on how to apply?

At the bottom of all of my job listing posts I will put instructions on how to apply.  Depending on the platform I will either ask that a resume is submitted through the posting site (such as Indeed) or that a resume is emailed to our internal jobs email address. Just to make sure the applicant read the entire listing and to weed out the applicants who are mass applying to jobs, I like to throw in what I call a “litmus question” such as “what is your favorite color”. You would be amazed at the amount of applicants who will apply to jobs without reading the entire post or simply don’t follow the directions for applying.  Those applicants who email  “how do I apply?” or my all time favorite “I want this job”, are instantly removed from the running. This may seem a bit harsh but we are mid sized company who wants employees who are genuinely interested in our company and share our values and culture. Obviously we can’t tell what sort of values a person has by their resume but by eliminating those who are just blindly applying to jobs gets us a little closer to the right fit.

Are they qualified?
If you listed a certain skill set, education level, or experience needed for consideration, verify that the applicant qualifies.  In many cases applicants are just throwing our resumes to see what sticks and does not meet your qualifications.

Step two: Reading resumes
Depending on the type of position you are hiring for you will be looking for different things in the resumes you are reading. These are the things I scan for when deciding who is in the running for a first interview.

1. Long term work history – In Reno, NV (where my company resides) we have had a huge influx of warehouse and production companies open in the last five years which has led to a lot of competition for production crew members.  A trend I have noticed with many production position applicants is that they hop from one warehouse to another.  I see the same work history on about 25% of the applicants resumes, all only staying at one warehouse for one to three months each. For me this is a red flag.

2. Type of work history – Many of the production positions I hire for are entry level as we train up those employees who show the motivation and dedication to our company.  I look for work history in similar types of businesses (other print shops or skilled trades) and other fast-paced industries (restaurants or logistics).

3. Internet research – Years ago HR managers would call applicants previous employers to check references, even though there were very few things you could legally ask them. Now we have the wonderful world of the internet and social media to check references.  I usually do a quick search of the applicant on Facebook to check out their character based on what they post.  Finding that an applicant states they graduated from “The University of Marijuana” (yes this was actually on an applicants Facebook), makes me think they may not be a good fit for my company.  Other things that lead me to throw out an applicants resume are posts containing profane language or inappropriate content, and talking negatively about previous employers.

What types of positions do you hire for?  What are the three things you look for as you are screening for those you wish to interview?

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