Resume Overload? A Shortcut to Spot Best Hires

By MIKE MICHALOWICZ  Reprinted from the Wall Street Journal

If there’s one thing we small-business owners need it’s more time in our days. If you’re like me, you’re constantly on the hunt for the secrets to doing something faster, better or cheaper. Hiring employees is no exception. Finding the right people is never easy, but in today’s turbulent economy, job seekers are responding to every job opening they hear about, inundating us with resumes. Many business owners think using the online job boards is a shortcut to finding the right potential employees. But the job boards usually elicit an overwhelming response from unqualified applicants, leaving us with hundreds of resumes and no clue as to how to cull through them all to select the best people.

For years I’ve used a special filtering technique to avoid this problem. My secret? In the ad (about three-quarters of the way down) I tell the applicants, “To prove that you’re a meticulous reader, you have to include the following sentence when you send your resume: ‘It is with my utmost respect I hereto surrender my curriculum vitae for your consideration.'”

Then we use what I’ve dubbed the “Quick Qualifier” which sounds fancy, but is nothing more than an email filter which searches for the requested sentence. I only consider applications that contain the sentence, which cuts the number of resumes I have to look at by upwards of 80%.

Why does this seemingly silly technique work?

  1. Including the sentence shows the applicant has read the entire ad and knows what the job entails and if they’re qualified to fill it.
  2. Many people today are blasting resumes (batch responding) to everyone and their mother. They don’t care what the job is; they’re just looking for a paycheck.
  3. Using the sentence shows they pay attention to detail.
  4. Most important, business owners want employees who will do as they’re told. If they’ve used the sentence, it shows they’re more inclined to explicitly follow directions and do what you expect of them.

I’ve used the “Quick Qualifier” dozens of times and it has rarely failed to select the best qualified people for the job. In fact, the best employee I ever hired not only included the sentence in her email response, but wrote, “Yes, I’m so detail-oriented I am including the sentence you requested. However, I also noticed you spelled the word ‘meticulous’ incorrectly, and here’s the correct way to spell it.”

We hired her immediately and she ultimately became a partner in one of my companies. This method may seem like a gimmick to some of you, but it’s been a time saver for me. And it shows that the fastest path to hiring may indeed be the best.