In the last 10 years I have founded, invested in, managed and worked with some really cool companies. Some of them have gone on to make a lot of money and do a lot of cool things, others… well, not so much.

One thing that always stuck out to me was the hiring process. Hiring and managing employees, argh! Specifically finding qualified candidates for an open position within one of my companies.

I never do things the traditional way. It blocks my creativity and keeps me on my toes to find non-traditional ways to do things.

The hiring process is no exception. It’s dated, boring and people just come up with “good” text book answers that actually make finding the right person a complete nightmare. They stick to safe answers and tell me what I want to hear.

Here’s a typical hiring process:

  • List qualifications and write up a good job ad
  • Post on job site, or hire agency
  • Review resumes that come in, pick the “best resumes”
  • Setup interviews based on “best resumes”
  • Hire best candidate from the pile of “best resumes”

See how it all stems from “best resumes”? I envision people saying “Ah-ha!” at this point. Keep reading and you’ll start to see why that’s not the best method, and what a better method is.

Instead, here’s what I do to find an employee, contractor, etc:

  • I write a very simple message about the vision of my company, no longer than 100 words.
  • I make sure to mention all the important things, like the fact that we don’t limit vacation see Richard Branson post.
  • I also make sure to mention that each position is not actually assigned one realm of duties forever, and you may actually get some fun, new and interesting things to do so your work life is not mundane and boring. F.ex being hired to manage the office, but then being thrown into business development and networking for a bit.
  • Next, when I do post or send around that write-up I mentioned above I make sure to add one VERY important section. Here it goes: “Please do not send us your resume. Instead, in your own words, not in cover letter format, tell me about yourself.”

Why my method is awesome:

  • It eliminates 80% of people that send their resume anyway (they didn’t read the description aka I’m not calling you!)
  • The ones that actually do it, I learn SO much more about than cover letters and resumes that are “designed” to impress me, the traditional way. It forces them to open up.

Then, sometimes, actually very rarely, I will ask for a resume on a later follow-up (but usually not.)

More reasons not to hire based on resumes:

  • Resumes are a self-reported description of that person’s history.
  • Everyone lies on their resume.
  • All the negative stuff is not on the resume, just self inflated positives.
  • It’s very hard to verify information on a resume.

Other alternatives to resumes:

  1. Ask for a portfolio or sample of their work, if they do something like graphic design, programming, writing, etc., then they should be able to provide this.
  2. Google the person by name, Facebook them, check LinkedIn, etc. Online presence is something that job candidates need to be very aware of these days. Everyone is Googling everyone.
  3. Ask them in person to solve a Rubik’s Cube and see if they solve it, give up almost immediately, or use the internet to problem solve. (Simple Google search gives you a 3d live animation of how to solve any cube in <3 minutes.) You can replace this with any seemingly difficult task, that has a searchable solution. It’s not even about getting it right, it’s about using available resources and having a “can-do” attitude.
  4. Get referrals from people you really trust, and immediately bring them in for an interview. Proceed to tell them that you don’t use resumes and have them tell you about themselves. Go to Step 1.

If all else fails, realize that you could be the problem 

Next time you find yourself in a hiring situation think of these alternatives to finding and selecting the right candidates. Avoid the typical routine if you want better than typical results.

Always ask something different when you do meet with people. It will keep you on your toes as well so that if the problem is you (asking the wrong questions) then you give yourself a chance to recover by forcing different questions each time.

Design the questions to get the person to forget about the list of things they planned ahead of time and get them to open up. I often ask questions designed to get people to go off script and relax a little.

You can apply the same philosophy to finding candidates as well. When you are gathering referrals and posting short, specific, non-typical job ads make sure to always vary each ad as well. It gives you a better chance until you realize what works.

Brian D. Evans

Brian is the Founder/CEO/Editor-in-Chief at Influencive and the Founder at BDE Ventures. Brian is an Inc. 500 Entrepreneur, who built the 25th fastest growth marketing and advertising company in America. Brian is an advisor to many startups and mentor to many entrepreneurs. He is a columnist at Inc.com, Entrepreneur.com, Huffington Post, Forbes and others.

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