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During a busy working season, it is easy to hire less-than-ideal candidates. But if you do that, often the result is creating more work for everyone in the long run. Making a hiring decision is one of the most important decisions that a manager or business owner can make. In this section we consider the first step: how to screen resumés. The following sections discuss preparing for and conducting interviews, checking references, and making the employment offer. The goal of screening resumés is to select the most qualified applicants to interview so that you do not waste your time interviewing people who are not suitable for the available positions. Until you reach the interview process and are able to talk with the candidates face-to-face, the resumé is generally your only source of information about the candidate’s abilities, knowledge, and skills, unless someone you know has recommended the person, or you have had prior experience in working with them. To help you screen resumés efficiently and select the most qualified candidates to interview, use the following step-by-step procedure: 1. Make a checklist and compare resumés. Create a checklist of the “must-have” and the “nice-to-have” skills, qualifications, and experience from the job description for the available position. Read through each resumé to determine if any applicants possess all of the must-have skills. If there are none, you may need to consider continuing with your recruitment efforts. Eliminate those resumés that do not meet your minimum requirements. Be wary of changing the must-have list to accommodate the experience and background of the applicants. It is important to maintain the integrity of the position you are trying to fill; hiring a less-than- qualified applicant will likely result in a short-term placement. 2. Categorize each applicant. Based on your initial review of the resumés, separate them into “yes,” “maybe,” and “no” piles:• Yes: Applicants have all must-have skills and most nice-to-have skills. • Maybe: Applicants have all must-have skills and a few nice-to-have skills. • No: Applicants lack must-have skills and maybe also lack the nice-to-have skills. As you categorize the applicants, flag those resumés that show: • Frequent changes in employers and short periods of time with a company • Large gaps in employment • Jumps between lateral level positions (versus changing jobs for career progression) • No dates assigned to previous jobs listed on resumé • Spelling and grammatical errors• Vague descriptions of duties and responsibilities • Seemingly over-inflated role descriptions. These factors are not necessarily reasons to rule out a candidate, but you should address them during an interview if a candidate makes it that far in the process. 3. Select applicants to be interviewed from the “yes” pile first. If, following the interviews, you do not find the right candidate, you can then move to the “maybe” pile. If you still do not find the right candidate, you will need to re-advertise your position to attract more qualified candidates. 4. Communicate with applicants. Depending on the volume of applications and company preferences, you may decide to communicate with all applicants or only those you invite to an interview. When applications are limited you may find yourself in a position of wanting to keep some potential candidates “warm.” This means that you do not indicate to the “maybe” candidates right away that they have not been selected for an interview. In the meantime you conduct interviews with the best possible candidates. This way if your preferred candidates do not work out as planned, you can still go to your “maybe” pile without candidates feeling they’re a second choice. When the time is right, contact the applicants to let them know where you are in your hiring process and when they can expect a decision. This is a good way to position your company in a professional manner and to reduce the number of calls or emails you need to respond to from candidates who are eager to follow up. You can contact applicants by sending a simple email thanking them for their applications and what to expect next (e.g., only applicants selected for interviews will be contacted following the closing date).