According to the January HWOL report from the Conference Board
, just over 2.5 million NEW jobs were advertised online in January, an increase of 16.1% from December, and a jump of 12.1% over the number of new jobs advertised in January of 2010.
If you’re among those who have been posting new job ads, you’ve probably already received more resumes this year than you care to think about…and they’re still flooding in. While most recruiters and hiring managers I’ve known have likened the activity of screening resumes to reading the dictionary front to back, and have pushed this down to the most entry level administrative staff available, how you manage this process can be of critical importance to your organization. Aside from the work of finding the great candidates among the volumes of unqualified applicants, there are also regulations and guidelines to be considered. Here are some important keys to keep in mind from both perspectives:
Strategic Recruiting Best Practices:
- When you’re screening resumes, ONLY be screening resumes. Remind yourself and your staff that this is the first step in bringing great new employees onboard to help your organization be productive and profitable; and give it the time and attention it deserves. Close your doors, shut down your email, and turn off your phone.
- Require that every applicant fill out an online application, even if it requires that you assist an applicant with the process. Capturing applicant data in a database allows you to efficiently search the applications and resumes for keywords, phrases, education requirements, etc. With online resources, you can also sort applicant data to help you keep track of great candidates that you didn’t hire this time around.
- READ EVERY RESUME. Okay, so this is the one that gets the most pushback and requires the most time. Unfortunately, it’s also the most effective method of ensuring you’re making the best hire for every position every time. See the next point for more on why this is important…
- Be INCLUSIVE not EXCLUSIVE in your screening process. Don’t focus on eliminating candidates; instead focus on what each candidate can add to the job. In today’s ever-changing business climate, you can give your organization an advantage by hiring candidates with skill sets that can allow for growth and adaptation. As you review resumes, actively look for auxiliary skills that could potentially add value to the current job opening or to your organization as a whole.
- Build a talent pipeline or community (and yes, even you can do this). As you screen resumes and build a list of applicants worthy of a first level interview (or phone screen), invite those finalists to join your talent pipeline. You may have five great candidates for one open position, and while you can’t hire them all, you can stay connected and keep them interested for future opportunities. This is a great way to keep your recruitment advertising costs down over the long term.
- Set up realistic expectations for all applicants regarding your response to their resume. If you accept resumes in person, be sure that you have signage that lets people know that you won’t be calling every applicant back. When accepting resumes online, send an automatically generated email that both acknowledges receipt of the submission, and sets realistic expectations of your follow up process. This really will cut down on the number of follow up emails and phone calls you get from applicants wondering whether or not you’ve reviewed their resume or filled the position.
Administrative Best Practices:
- Don’t bother separating out unsolicited resumes in your filing system. While there are different regulations governing the retention of resumes based on whether they are solicited or unsolicited, this distinction is often too difficult to prove one way or another. Save yourself the heartburn, and treat all your resumes the same.
- Make it easy on yourself- keep every resume you get for two years, and make a regular practice of purging older resumes. If you have more than 20 employees, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) applies to you, and dictates that you hold on to every resume for at least one year. If you are a federal contractor, you are required to retain these documents for two years.
- Use an applicant tracking system or other database system to save all applications and resumes online. This is always the best practice as you can search resumes more efficiently, and can group them by any number of criteria. However, if that’s not an option…
- File resumes and applications by Month and Job Title. This is by far the safest and most efficient way to file resumes so you can find them quickly in the event you need to defend a hiring decision. If you post a job opening in January for a Java Developer, and accept resumes from January until March, file all the resumes under January, then under Java Developer. If you post a second opening in June for the same position, you’ll want to file that in June- this way you are grouping all resumes in relation to the job posting they applied to.
Above all, try to remember that you’re not just screening resumes, but that you’re making a change to the culture of your organization. There’s really no way around it- every new hire brings their personal culture, morals, values, and biases with them which affect your culture. I always have found that it’s best to analyze resumes for fit as you screen for skills and experiences. While all the applicants you screen certainly want a job, it’s your job to find the ones who truly want to work for your organization.