Jul 252012

cheerful peopleIn selecting and working with advertising sales representatives, we always need to look at and beyond first impressions.  “First impressions” of course are important — many decisions are made within seconds of meeting someone new, and these can provide real clues about the future.  Yet first impressions can be staged and the perfection you see (or want to see) often does not exist under the surface.  As well, of course, some people rightfully seek to cover their tracks to hide problems and issues they would rather not to be exposed.

Our recruiting and hiring systems are quite effective in handling first impressions.  We don’t discount them. We simply put them in context.

The first rule

Resumes and interviews are supporting, not vital, for hiring decisions.

Every person needs a resume, and we’ll have some form of conversation with anyone who passes the initial scruitiny/screening.  But we will NEVER hire someone just because they have a great resume and “interview well”.  Our systems are designed to prevent these common hiring tools from being the key elements in making our decisions.

Notably, we’ll ask every candidate to reframe their resume to reflect a true chronological history, from most recent to earliest employment.  Dressing up the resume to highlight achievements or hide employment gaps won’t help you at all in being selected at our organization — we need to see the warts, and all.

The second rule

All candidates must answer our initial employment questionnaire to receive any further consideration.

The goal here is to ensure that the candidates can respond to questions that don’t necessarily “fit” their nicely packaged resumes.  We are also able to ask some point-blank questions such as whether  references from immediate previous supervisors for all previous employers can be verified (and if not, why).    We generally ask some skills-evaluating questions, as well.

Note the resume and questionnaire go hand-in-hand.  We cross check each to discover inconsistencies and gaps.

The third rule

No one is hired without a short-term (paid) working test

We realize some great people are employed elsewhere, but everyone who is serious (and who we are serious about) can find a day or two, upwards of a week, to work for pay temporarily to show they will work out well in our organization.  Generally speaking, if you wish to be hired as a sales representative here, you’ll need to sell something during the test.

The working test is a much better evaluation approach than multiple interviews, since effectively, multiple interviews are conducted through the evaluation process.

Reference checking is vital — but what we are seeking are truthful insights

We’ve hired some really good people who could not provide consistent, recent, references, perhaps because they are returning to the work force after a long absence or because their career is truly legitimately “spotty”.  The point is we’ll look beyond the obvious and keep an open mind — especially since the reference checking only occurs after the working evaluation, where we’ve been able to assess actual performance and compatibility.

Nevertheless, we’ll check carefully to avoid hiring anyone who shows a lack of integrity and truthfulness and we’ll be especially cautious to know that employment gaps or potentially negative references indicate smoking gun problems.

The final security measure:  The employment contract

We’ll ask every employee (after obtaining independent legal advice) to sign an employment contract, which clearly states obligations and establishes the rules for severance/termination (setting these at statutory, rather than common-law levels).