How To: Screen Job Applicants Using Technology September 15th, 2008 · 5 Comments by Tanya Gagnon, Ladies Who Launch member, Phoenix/Scottsdale, AZ Do any of these questions sound familiar? My business is growing and I think I need to hire someone, but how do I find help? How can I be sure I’m not making a big mistake? Can I afford to find help? Can I afford not to find help? How much can I afford to lose on a bad hire? One of the most important decisions a business owner will make is whether—and how to—hire employees. And for small businesses, there is little room for error, as budgets are tight and owners require the best from their few employees. I am a business owner and have faced these issues regularly. I cannot afford to waste time and money hiring the wrong people. When I hire someone I need the process to be fast, easy, and reliable. That’s why I use technology, both to attract quality applicants and to screen them. I recently needed a designer. Here’s how I found her … Use Technology to Attract Quality People I needed a designer with a fresh perspective. I placed an ad on a local university career Web site, and after a week I received 20 resumes from qualified, motivated design students. This small effort produced plenty of candidates with the qualities I needed. I was able to narrow the group to seven possibilities. Attracting quality people from the outset reduces screening time. Identify your requirements and use technology to find one or two sources with the most qualified candidates. Then submit detailed ads (make sure you are specific, i.e. it’s okay to say “do not submit attachments” if you don’t want to open resumes and prefer text in the e-mail) to narrow the applicant pool. This step is crucial but often overlooked. Many business owners instead place ads in generic online job sites. But there are too many sites and they’re too general, practically paralyzing employers with choices. Think about the best place to attract candidates for your business and focus your resources there. Use Technology to Screen Your Candidates Screening Tip #1: The Internet sees all. Almost all college students have a profile on either Facebook or MySpace. When I searched these Web sites, five of my seven candidates had profiles, three of which I considered objectionable. I excluded them. You will also be amazed what a simple Google search will reveal. Some may object to these searches, but I rely on employees to exercise good judgment and to understand that they represent my business. Online posts are public. Questionable content generated by an employee could affect your reputation. Screening Tip #2: E-mail! I e-mailed my remaining four candidates and, because people were generally very willing to respond with their thoughts, I received some insightful information that would have taken hours to gather over the phone. I was able to exclude one of the candidates and learned that the other three were highly regarded. Resumes contain references with e-mail addresses. Use them. You will be pleasantly surprised how much people will tell you. Use Technology to Detect Timeliness I used the pre-interview period to learn how quickly my candidates would respond to communications. I asked them to e-mail or call me within 48 hours if they were interested in the position. Two responded within a few hours and the other in four days. I had two candidates left. Launchers are busy and our time is precious. We need to know that employees will respond when they are needed. Trust Yourself Technology helped me to narrow my search in a very short time to two outstanding candidates. But once the interviews started, I just let my instincts take over. Don’t forget that you know your business best and that technology is only a tool to help you gather information quickly. In the end, business is still all about people. So trust yourself to make the right choice! Tanya Gagnon is a member of the Phoenix/Scottsdale, AZ, Incubator and the founder of Miss Details Design. For more articles like this, visit www.ladieswholaunch.com, the first company to provide resources and connections exclusively for women entrepreneurs.