Resources for Humans

A Manager’s Guide to Hiring the Best Person for Every Job

Employment law attorney Michael Maslanka reviews the book A Manager’s Guide to Hiring the Best Person for Every Job by DeAnne Rosenberg. Review includes tips for employers for reviewing resumes and recognizing warning signs they contain.

DeAnne Rosenberg has written an interesting book, A Manager’s Guide to Hiring the Best Person for Every Job, and I wanted to share some of her tips with you, along with some of my own.

Tip no. 1: beware of ambiguous phrasing

Sometimes an applicant can be just a little too disingenuous. For instance, if the resume is loaded with phrases like “had exposure to,” “have knowledge of,” and “assisted with,” then you must figure out specifically what those phrases mean in relation to the job.

Also, have you ever heard a phrase like “attended” school? Last time we checked Webster’s, “attended” and “graduated” have two different definitions.

Tip no. 2: beware of the halo effect

This is easy to fall into. For better or worse, people tend to like people just like themselves. When you find yourself warming to a person with the same background as you, take a mental time-out, acknowledge to yourself that it is the individual’s qualifications that count, and refocus your attention on skill sets he brings to the job. It’s human to feel this way but a bad business decision to let it influence you.

Tip no. 3: brevity is a virtue

If a resume runs over two pages, that’s a danger sign. The applicant may be long-winded and simply can’t get to the point. Or as Abraham Lincoln wrote in a P.S. to the end of a 30-page letter, “I would have made it shorter, but I didn’t have the time.” A long resume may be an indication of someone who didn’t take the time to sort out the wheat from the chaff. Is that the kind of person you want as an employee?

Tip no. 4: never go by a resume alone

Never use only a resume as a hiring tool. Always have the applicant complete an employment application as well. First, the employment application was designed to extract information other than what an applicant puts on a resume or consciously leaves off the resume (such as whether her current employer knows that she is looking for a job or listing the names of all her supervisors over the last several years).

Second, most applications, unlike a resume, require the applicant to certify that the information is complete and true. Third, many applications have built-in legal protections: an at-will statement, a statement that any inaccurate information may be grounds for discipline, and a statement that no one gets an employment contract unless it is written and signed by the CEO.

Bottom line

A resume is just one tool. Look at it that way, and you’ll end up hiring a better employee.

Michael Maslanka is the managing partner of Ford & Harrison LLP’s Dallas, Texas, office. He has 20 years of experience in litigation and trial of employment law cases and has served as Adjunct Counsel to a Fortune 10 company where he provided multi-state counseling on employment matters. He has also served as a Field Attorney for the National Labor Relations Board.

Mike is listed in The Best Lawyers in America and was selected as a “Texas Super Lawyer” by Texas Monthly and Law & Politics Magazine in 2003. He was also selected as one of the best lawyers in Dallas by “D” Magazine in 2003. Mike has served as the Chief Author and Editor of the Texas Employment Law Letter since 1990. He also authors the “Work Matters” column for Texas Lawyer.