How to find the best applicants to hire
Probably one of the hardest things to do is finding motivated individuals who are going to move the needle for whatever project it is you’re working on. Even finding involved people to share a passion or a hobby can become quite exhausting.
When it comes to work though, things get really messy…10s, 100s of resumes are sent to your inbox as soon as you keep a job-ad run on platforms like Indeed for a couple of days.
As a founder/manager, you have to look for that golden person. That A-star player.
How do you find the best profiles to interview and hire?
I like to imagine this exercise, as an egghunt.
I am looking for an egg that is solid gold, worth a lot of money. However, you’re also out of luck - because you’re having to start looking through a whole pile of eggs and there are a lot of fake sprayed eggs that look gold in this pile.
Luckily there are some really badly sprayed eggs - those are obvious - you can discard those immediately.
At this point what’s left is probably 50% of the initial egg-load and you’re still looking for that 1 egg that could change your life.
Here are some learnings to look for when researching and finding that beautiful, solid gold, egg.
Cover letters can be a great opener and get your foot through a door when done well.
Attach a cover letter but making sure it’s custom and not copy-pasta is crucial.
No one likes to read copy-pasted cover letters, might as well not attach one.
When people do, it means they’re cutting corners, trying to apply quickly doesn’t make anyone look good. Makes you look a bit desperate.
I look for that custom cover letter to understand if an applicant has read the job description, did a 2 minute research of the company and mentioned something that makes them stand out from the rest.
It only takes a few minutes to research the company you’re trying to work for.
Mentioning something in the cover letter like the company’s values and mission or mentioning an aspect of the job description can get you placed into the pile of eggs that aren’t discarded.
A lot of times applicants forget to show proof of having worked on a project.
It’s easy to say someone worked on a project or that they’ve achieved incredible things, but how they show ne - potential employer - that they actually did?
That is where having a website or having a Github account or Dribbble/Behance linked in the resume makes a big difference.
It adds undeniable (although anything could be faked truthfully) proof, it is a big +1 in terms of trust factor to the work mentioned in your resume.
I always look at what’s in the portfolio - as a developer, designer or other - to get a feel of the quality of the work, to understand how they think.
One more thing has to be said about proof: using numbers.
Using numbers makes things look more objective - always good to have credible numbers that can be backed with some sort of tangible evidence.
If someone spends many years at a job and suddenly they quit and go explore the world, I am not too worried. What worries me in a resume it’s continuity. People who have huge gaps or jump from job to job.
Very guilty of the latter.
That’s a big 🚩 flag because I get worried about what would happen if…will this person stay with us only for a year or less? and if so why? I would probably not want to interview someone who jumped through multiple jobs in a span of 3 years - and I would discard that resume immediately. Unless there’s a specific reason. Life is strange sometimes, but it’s important to point it out - in the resume or cover letter otherwise it reads 🚩, you guessed it, red flag.
It’s hard to understand the real skillset of someone just based on a bunch of words on a resume. If someone is great at PostgreSQL or Unity, I want them to show me the projects that they’ve worked on rather than just drop keywords at the bottom of a resume in the “skills” section. I feel like LinkedIn created this need for a skills matrix with their endorsement system but it doesn’t really tell me anything interesting by itself.
When someone has been at the same workplace for years and they’ve progressed onto the career ladder, to a higher position - that’s a great indicator of commitment.
I always look for this indicator.
I therefore think it’s extremely valuable to recognize it by highlighting it in your resume.
This gives me a sense of progression and what to expect from an applicant, in terms of commitment.
Hopefully these tricks will help you go through the egg-hunt faster.
I think this advice can be applied to most fields hired by technology companies.
I got lucky and hired a couple of amazing people throughout the years, especially some particular good hires fresh out of college.
Hopefully as I hire more people, I will find new tricks…hiring is definitely challenging!