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How to Hire Smart Data Processors

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After more than thirty-five years of being intimately involved in the whole subject of hiring, I distilled what I'd learned into a book published by Crown, entitled Robert Half on Hiring (also in paperback by Plume). I mention this to point you toward a readily available source of information on how to hire smart. What's important is that now that you are a boss, much of your future success will depend upon the staff you choose to bring onto your working team. Hiring is not a management function to be handled intuitively. Too much rides on it, including your department's success, your company's success, and your success.

While encouraging you to explore the subject in greater depth, I have included some important, work-able ideas that you might keep in mind when going about the difficult process of hiring people.

Judging All Those Resumes

Every resume you've written in your career was conceived to accomplish two things - to maximize strengths and to gloss over weaknesses. You should read resumes from candidates for the job you are trying to fill with the knowledge that they are trying to accomplish the same thing. If a job candidate has taken the proper time and given the proper thought to a resume, it will do a pretty good job of both. This doesn't constitute dishonesty. Rather, it stems from a realization that it is necessary to sell yourself in a resume just as you did. Outright lying on a resume" is another matter. Unfortunately, a lot of people do it, which is why reference checking is such a crucial part of the hiring procedure.

Here are a few quick hints about reading resumes:
  • Look for achievements on the resume rather than simply a listing of experience and credentials. What the candidate achieved for previous employers might indicate what he or she can achieve for you, and should represent the thing you're most interested in.

  • I have often remarked that a resume is like a balance sheet without liabilities. Also, people tend to put the least flattering material at the bottom of the resume" and their most attractive attributes at the top.

  • Therefore, read a resume from the bottom up. You'll be surprised at what insight it can give you into the candidate.

  • It isn't often that you will run across a resume in which the candidate admits to having been fired from a previous job. That's someone to take a closer look at. In the meantime, accept the fact that more than half the people who come to you for a job, and who claim to be presently employed, have a working arrangement with their current employer to terminate at a prescribed date-or they are not working at all (the resume is old). Add to that the reality that most people who claim to have quit a job were actually fired. But don't consider being fired a pox on the candidate. Remember, almost all of us have been fired at one time or another.

  • If the job opening is for an entry-level person, expect that the education section of the resume will be emphasized. A veteran DPer coming to you for a job will probably downplay education. But keep in mind that it is the education portion of a resume in which most irregularities occur. Beware of qualifying phrases like "had access to" and "took courses in," because they fudge the issue of whether there has been any real training involved.

  • Look for significant gaps in employment, and question them when interviewing the candidate. Again, verifying dates of employment will eventually become an important part of reference checking.

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