5 Things to Know When Screening Potential New Hires - And 2 to Avoid Doing!

5 Things to Know When Screening Potential New Hires - And 2 to Avoid Doing!

When I managed a team in my traditional job, hiring was standardized from the Human Resources department. While I was grateful to not have to think about the entire hiring process in detail, I still was tasked with reviewing well over 100 resumes on average for an open position. Regardless if you are hiring W-2 employees or 1099 contractors, the screening process you use should be top-notch. You want to attract and hire the best candidate for the position, and whether onsite or virtual, that team member represents you and your business. Therefore, they should meet your standards. Here are five things you want to include in your screening process and two things you may want to avoid doing. 


  1. Review resumes and applications daily: The pandemic has changed the labor market. We are seeing good candidates exiting the labor market fast, especially in certain industries. Older workers are permanently leaving the workforce in greater numbers than expected. And other candidates, fueled by the time to reevaluate their options, are repositioning themselves for career changes. Good candidates are in high demand, so reach out to those you want to interview quickly. Sitting on a stack of resumes in this labor market can result in top candidates no longer being available. 
  2. Quality counts: Candidates should offer a polished application and resume for review, even when they are applying through a job board like Indeed or ZipRecruiter. Did they upload a professional resume on Indeed or use the Indeed template to build a resume? Did the candidate offer his/her LinkedIn profile for review? When I was hiring for open positions, sometimes I had 80 to 100 resumes to review. It was easy to use the “typo factor” as a way to sort through the stack, looking past candidates with typos on their cover letter and resume. Attention to detail matters in many jobs these days - but there is a caveat below (keep on reading…).
  3. Cover letters make a difference: While your time is limited, and you may not want to read a cover letter, at the very least skim it. Cover letters are still relevant and may provide you valuable information not covered in the resume itself. You could learn quite a lot about the candidate, such as why they are interested in working for your company, explanations of gaps in their work history, or why they are changing jobs or careers. When asked if cover letters make a difference in hiring a candidate, 83% of human resource professionals say that they do. Now if a cover letter is more than one page - forget about it. You don’t have time for that!
  4. Job Hopper or Job Stay-er? Quality candidates typically stay at jobs for two to three years. While you may see candidates who have longer tenures, definitely scroll past those candidates who move jobs every year to 18 months (or less). Unless a cover letter, this being an example of where one would be helpful, adequately explains the frequent job moves, you can expect that candidate will only stay with your company for roughly the same length of time. And the cost of a new hire is expensive! The Society for Human Resource Management estimates new hire costs at $4425 per recruit, with costs of hiring executive positions at $14,936. Those costs only include recruiting and on-boarding; training over the first year is an additional cost.  
  5. Review social media profiles: As you find top candidates for the role and are interested in meeting with them, it never hurts to check out their social media profiles, especially LinkedIn. If you Google their first and last name plus the social media platform, you will usually find them - unless the name is a common one. Social media profiles should show a candidates’ personality, but at the same time, be respectful of others. According to a 2020 Inc. article, just over half of employers have avoided pursuing a candidate based on their social media. 

Now that we have covered five things you should do when reviewing resumes, avoid doing these two things to help you find a strong candidate for your open position. 

  1. Discrediting candidates who do not hold a degree: Is a degree really necessary for the role you need to fill? If you have flexibility on requiring a degree, consider prior job or life experience instead. Many candidates could be well qualified, have the skills you are looking for, and be a great fit for your business, yet not have a degree. Take their overall qualifications into consideration before moving on from an otherwise-qualified candidate.
  2. The candidate does not have a perfect resume. - Yes, I know that I previously stated, “resume quality counts,” but some candidates do not have access to the right resources to craft a quality resume free of typos with strong action verbs. Now if you are hiring an English teacher or a PR coordinator - different story! Focus on the technical skills and soft skills (such as work ethic) needed to be successful in the position, and not a stickler on the grammar and typos. 

Hiring in this job market is tough and expensive, so getting it right the first time is important. Set aside time to review the applications you receive daily and schedule those you would like to interview. 

Have you found these tips useful? Let me know by leaving a comment below! Reach out to Let’s Build Talent if you need assistance on how to hire for your open positions. Schedule your free 30-minute discovery call today! 


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