Monthly Archives: June 2014


Most businesses look at resumes when hiring people. Whether you asked your network for referrals or posted a sign in the window or placed an ad somewhere, your stated requirements are the minimum standard. But do you really know how to read a resume?

Start with a basic screen of the resumes received to find the best matches. For each:

What does it’s overall structure and appearance tell you?
Does it show actual achievements or just position responsibilities?
Does it show a pattern of increased knowledge, skill, and/or responsibility?
Has the person solved business or technical problems similar to yours?
Does it show a pattern of achievement, with adequate details provided as proof?

Once you have selected those resumes closest to your needs, take the time to actually read for details and content.

Tip 1. Has the person done work which prepared them for your job?

Unless you are seeking an entry level person, you want to see whether the applicant has specifically demonstrated the knowledge and achievements related to what you need.

Casting a wide net is smart – you need to know both their technical or skill specific qualifications and how they work. Evaluate where they worked, what they did, and how effective they were. Job titles can be misleading but details tell the story. Look for candidates who provide information clearly.

Match your needs first, then your other ‘wants’.

Tip 2. How close is the resume to your needs?

Did the person use the keywords you use? Tailor it to the specific job you are trying to fill? Does the resume demonstrate progress, attention to detail, and any important ‘soft skills’ you want?

A resume is usually a person’s ‘best foot forward’ – is their best good enough to meet your expectations?

Is there a cover […]

By |June 30th, 2014|hiring|0 Comments

3 Top Tips for Reference Checking

Smart employers still check references and learn a lot about their preferred hire. But many small businesses just assume that they will not get any info beyond title and date confirmation. Or they think they know the applicant already and do not bother to check.

How do you get useful information?

1. Ask finalists for the right references – request at least four or five previous bosses, project leaders, others with knowledge of the person’s performance, each with current phone or email information. Entry level person? Ask for part-time work bosses, volunteer managers, professors/teachers. Tell the applicant when you are going to call the reference and who will make the call.

2. Create a basic script to use with the references. Tell the person a bit about your organization, the specific position, and that you need their help so you can hire the person. Build rapport. Ask questions about the critical elements of the job, starting with the easy questions. Remember to ask some questions to help you assess if they can succeed in your culture.

Listen to what each reference says and how they say it. Enthusiastic descriptions of past work are valuable but so are the long pauses and polite but limited responses.

If you get told that they cannot give a reference due to company policy, ask if you can call them at home. If they say no, ask for someone else they think can give a real reference but who is no longer with the company. Most references want to help IF the applicant has asked them to do so and told them you are calling. If they have not, what does that tell you about the applicant?

Think about the applicant – do you know […]


Right about now each year I have clients who suddenly realize it is summertime. And they meant to consider summer hours or a summer family picnic or some other form of recognition for all the hard work of the last few quarters. But the firehouse of daily activities overcame the intent.

Is this YOU?  Yes, there are still things you can do to enhance morale and inject a little fun.

Tip 1. Bring some fun into the workplace

If all your employees are in one-two locations, this works well. Have an ‘ice cream sundae’ party or bring in catered lunches two-three times over the summer. Start with a short ‘thanks’ and push to get people talking to each other for 30-60 minutes. Make it a real break from work. And yes, that means the executives too – unless you are having them make the sundaes.

Tip 2. Cancel a workday

Independence Day is a Friday this summer. Shut down for Thursday July 3rd as well. Or just pick a random day, say August 1st. Announce it in advance a bit to give folks a sense of anticipation. Give a reason – or not! Yes, you will still pay everyone for the day so it has a cost. But it does not take a lot of effort to plan or run and most employees love this ‘playing hooky’ day.

Tip 3. Go All In

Set up a last minute picnic or area trip – say Great Falls National Park with bag lunches and a bus to/from the office for a mid-day break.

Each employee gets a chit for some ‘free’ time off – maybe 3 half-days or two full days, depending on your business.

Bring in a seated chair massage therapist 4-6 times in […]