I hire for an open position, I always screen the resumes myself. I create three piles: Yes, No, Maybe. I screen relatively loosely based on skill, and much more tightly based on how the person has worked, keeping in mind those personal qualities I want. I don't mind phone-screening lots of people, because I can learn more from a brief phone conversation than I can from a resume. I phone screen the "Yes" resumes, respond via HR for the "No" resumes, and after I'm done with the "Yes" resumes, I decide whether to pursue the "Maybes."
Clarify Required Experience
One of the reasons many hiring managers and HR staff rely on tool experience is that they don't know how to define the requirements for the kind of employee they want to hire. If you're in this boat, don't feel bad; you have plenty of company! After all, there's a huge difference between someone who's a whiz at testing GUIs and someone who tests embedded systems.
Many hiring managers have never analyzed their open positions, to define the requirements. However, you can define the skills and personal qualities you want in a candidate relatively easily. Here's a quick technique for analyzing the job:
- Define the roles this person plays, and at what level you think the interactions lie.
- Define the activities and deliverables of the job.
- Take a look at your current staff, and identify the personal qualities that make a person successful in your group. If you'd like some ideas for this, review the list of talents in First, Break All the Rules , by Buckingham and Coffman.
- Define anything that would prevent you from hiring a candidate. I'm not talking about your preferences, I mean anything that would make the candidate not fit into your organization at all. Examples are people who can't work overtime at release time; people who aren't available to travel and the job requires travel; classes of people your company doesn't hire, such as felons; or whatever is specific to your job.
You'll notice that education and toolsets are only a small part of this analysis. If you absolutely require some specific minimum of education (because your clients demand it) or tool experience, then add that. However, I've never found specific tool experience worth hiring for.
So, here's my plea: Make sure you're looking at the whole person, not just a tool. Pamela, and all the other Pamelas out there are ready, willing, and able to ork. Let's give them a chance to prove themselves in an interview.
Show this column to your company's hiring manager(s), people in HR who scan the resumes, and everyone else involved in hiring. Help your hiring managers and recruiters look past the tools to the person.
I thank the following people for their helpful reviews of this article: Esther Derby, Elisabeth Hendrickson, and Dwayne Phillips.