No, this is not a rhetorical question. Are you hiring the right people? Hiring the right applicant is imperative to your company’s success. This is especially true if you are a startup bootstrapped for cash.
I was planning to expand our company’s scope and recently ventured out to hire stellar individuals. Needless to say, in this down economy, we received a ton of resumes. There were emails from people claiming to be valedictorians but had spelling mistakes in their cover letters. These individuals took careful attention to formatting, highlighting and spell-checking their resumes but forgot to spell check their cover letters. This is my personal pet peeve and I am sure is the same for most other hiring managers.
Resume, and a succinct cover letter, is your single piece of ammunition to get your point across. If your ammo is flawed, you will not be able to get where you want – the interview. In the long run, such resumes end up in the "do not call" bin for lack of foresight. One little mistake can make or break your chances of getting that first interview.
However during interviews, certain slip-ups can be overlooked by hiring managers. This is because the person interviewing you has to process more than just a two page resume or cover letter. He or she is watching your body language, the way you construct sentences, bring humor to a mundane interview, and how you can tactfully avoid a tough question without coming across as ignorant.
We, as employers, do not want to waste your time and unequivocally want the same in return. In essence, it all boils down to time. Please value our time and we will value yours. Stop puffing up your resume so that it looks implausible. An experienced Human Resource professional will ultimately figure out that you have grossly exaggerated your resume and that could be grounds for dismissal.
Employees should know that it is not what you have done in the past (stated on your resume) which hiring managers like to hear. It is what you can do for them going forward which matters the most. This is especially true for me. Although I will try to hire someone with a solid background, I will be especially eager to find out what that person can do for my company’s profit margin.
Recently my HR generalist hired a Senior Marketing Director for my startup. This candidate had an immaculate resume, most definitely overstated. I quickly realized this person was not a go getter. He was way too spoon fed to take charge and act like a leader. He was constantly waiting for guidance from me in matters which did not require any direction whatsoever. Thankfully I realized that sooner than later and was forced to terminate him.
I quickly realized I had to take charge of our recruitment needs also. Being that it is a startup, I would probably have a better idea of whom I would like to recruit than outsourcing it to an HR agency. Had I spent some time perusing through this person’s resume, I would have become conscious that this was indeed a clever disguise to hyperbolize a resume.
Needless to say I was forced to terminate my contract with the Human Resources agency also. I took charge and skimmed through the resumes myself. It quickly dawned upon me that more than 75% of the respondents resorted to magnify their duties and responsibilities. It would take a clever eye and a quick phone call to weed out the superfluous.
The exercise taught me a valuable lesson: Do not replace or hire new employees, if not needed. I have devised a 3-point checklist for both employees and employers to ensure successful hires:
- Your resume should not be longer than 3 pages – I don’t care if you are a CEO, CFO, CIO, CTO or CxO.
- Your resume should not ramble on about the same accomplishments using novel words and technical jargon.
- You should READ the Job Description, and please DO NOT APPLY if you do not meet the basic requirements of the job. For example, if the job states "at least 5 years of Director-level experience required", your resume will be immediate eliminated if you do not match that particular requirement.
- You should have an accurate job description. Again, this should be concise and no more than 3 pages. It seems quite intuitive but this is the single most important thing to do before starting your hiring process.
- Break down your job description into two parts: Required & Desired. Again, seems pretty straightforward, but it is not. Your requirements can vary – "three year college degree required"; "minimum 5 years of ERP experience required"; "3 years in the CRM industry required". On the other hand, ‘Desired’ wants can be: "PMP certification is desirable"; "hands-on knowledge of XML desired". Does that make sense?
- Managers should provide constant feedback to their employees. After a while, employees become detached and bored with their job functions. Keep them on their toes, and make them enjoy working at your company, by providing constant feedback and appraising the employees. This can come in handy during annual appraisals, which, according to me, are pretty useless. I would much rather have quarterly reviews with my employees while their past performance (stellar or dismal) is still fresh in their minds. Also, please do not confuse "constant feedback" with micro-management. Micro managing employees can (and most probably will) have a negative effect on your employee’s morale. So, stay away from it … for good!
Not being content at their job is the number one reason an employee leaves for greener pastures. Shocking? Yes it is. It is not higher pay but "job contentment". If your employee is purposeless or bored at his job, you better be sure he or she will quit.
I may not be an HR expert, but I do know that it takes approximately 80% of an employee’s annual salary to search, train and replace them. In the Silicon Valley, employees making over $75,000 annually can cost more than $81,000 to replace. Most of these costs are hidden and spread out, so they do not stand out as a single line item in the budget.
In fact, an independent study by IRLE, UC Berkeley (www.irle.berkeley.edu) states that "turnover costs for a manager average 150% of salary, including tangible costs of hiring new workers and relocation, and intangible costs such as the new worker's inefficiency and lost productivity while the job is vacant."
‘Employee Turnover Cost’ is the moniker given to the cost of replacing employees. It might surprise you, but this cost is pretty high if you took into consideration developing formal job descriptions, implementing exit interviews for departing employees, severance pay, establishing rigorous screening procedures, entrance interviews and employee training. All this costs a ton of money.
So hire the best, and stick with them!
I would love to hear your thoughts on this. How does your company avoid this hiring challenge? Does your company have accurate job descriptions? Are your employees satisfied or motivated?