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Question: We have limited time and budget but need to hire quickly. What is one creative tip for separating good from bad resumes quickly?

Ask Everyone You Know for a Recommendation

“The best way to find great employees is to have someone recommend them. It’s also the fastest way to screen for people.”

Invest in Software

“Most recruiters have software (like RecruiterBox) that mines resumes looking for keywords, experience and qualifications, and unlike the human eye, the software will not be tricked by a resume that has been formatted creatively. If you prefer to mine the data manually, make sure that the resumes that you have mirror the job description. If they don’t, chuck them.”

Only Post on Quality Platforms

“In addition to asking for a specific qualification or skillset (e.g. an Ivy League college), you may also choose to only post on very specific job forums or platforms where you know quality candidates are more likely to be present. Likewise, you can also make the application process tedious: ‘please include a transcript and three references,’ etc., to cut back on the number of less committed applicants.”

Look for Accomplishments Instead of Duties

“I don’t want to hire someone with a go-fer mentality. I want someone who views their experience in terms of their own accomplishments. Although an applicant can apply this trick to make their resume look better, at the very least I want them to show me that they’re aware we’re looking for someone who generates results that meet our needs. A resume that reads like a list of tasks should be tossed.”

Test Their Attention to Detail

“When posting the job, ask candidates to submit their resumes via email using a subject line you put in the body of the job posting. If the candidate doesn’t read the entire job post, then they are probably only applying because they need a job — not because something about your company attracted them. This will help you distinguish those who pay attention.”

Send Them a Test

“Before even going through the resumes, send them all a test that will require them to jump through some hoops. You’ll immediately know who’s really interested in the job and is willing to go the extra mile. You can also use the results of the test to get an idea of the quality of the applicant’s work.”

Double-Check With LinkedIn

“I’ve had countless surprises when comparing Linkedin profiles to someone’s resume. Often the dates of employment, duties, title and employers were different than noted. Grammar could be shockingly different too, which often reflects that someone wrote their resume, but they did their own profile.”

Know Exactly What You Want

“Employers don’t always define the exact skills and qualifications required, the problems they need solved, what is absolutely essential and what is nice to have. By clearly articulating what you want, you can screen resumes for key skills (and not get distracted by nice-to-haves).”

Ask About a Unique Factor

“The quickest way to separate the strong candidates from the weak is to require them to describe what makes them unique. Strong candidates will take this question seriously and use it as an opportunity to stand out and dazzle the hiring manager. “

Have Unspoken Criteria

“Whenever we put up a job posting, I never ask for a cover letter. However, our field is made up of writers, so if someone doesn’t take an extra few minutes to write one that explains why they are specifically interested in working with us, I don’t even look at their resume.”

Create a Relevant Filter

“When I was looking for contractors for a web project, I would send them a completely overbearing NDA that absolutely no one should sign. If they signed it, they were not considered. This resulted in a smaller number of candidates that I knew actually took the time to review what I would send and immediately established some level of trust. Create a filter for what you consider most important.”