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When You Find Yourself Awash in Resumes, How To Cull The Best June 23, 2015 (0 comments)


Boston, MA—One of the job sites that I recommended in my book, Hiring Squirrels, is called INDEED. I suggested it because I had heard from a number of people that it was a very effective site, although I had never actually used it myself.

Last week, I decided to give it a try as we are looking to add a couple of people to our team at Vibhor. I took a few minutes to write the job posting and I put it on the site late on Thursday evening. More than 250 replies later, I took the posting off the site on Monday, as my e-mail had become overrun with replies.

Thankfully, I had a scheduled train ride from Boston to New York on Tuesday, and I reasoned that the four-hour commute would be a perfect opportunity to review the resumes.

Now, perhaps I am a little slow reviewing resumes, or maybe I am too committed to finding pearls of wisdom within the digital documents, but after two hours of non-stop reading I began to sense an emerging panic at the prospect of not making a dent in the resumes by the time my train was scheduled to arrive at Penn Station in New York.

Thankfully, necessity – that gorgeous mother of invention – intervened and suggested that I cease looking at the resumes of those candidates who had not demonstrated the good sense to include a cover note with their resumes. The note didn’t have to be extensive, or profound, or even witty. There just had to be one.

Peter Smith

As my panic subsided, and I began to enjoy the process, without the fear of under-serving the most deserving applicants, I noticed that I was becoming quite drawn to the notes, however brief, that had a personal touch. I would guess that about half of the resumes had notes and, of those that did, only about ten of them even mentioned the name of the company in their text.

When I did read the company name, I was much more inclined to seek positive attributes in the accompanying resume.  In fact, as I attempted to whittle the group down to a manageable number to conduct phone interviews, I almost assumed a position with the candidates who had made their notes personal – and who had included the name of the company – that a phone interview was a given, unless, of course, the resume was of a particularly poor standard.

The candidates had a range of experiences from fifteen or more years of employment to many who had just graduated. I wondered why so many people would have taken the time to apply for a job without taking the extra few minutes it would have taken to attach a cover note.

One girl wrote in her cover letter that one of her earliest childhood memories was of playing with her mother’s ring. I thought it was a lovely thing to have written and it separated her from the masses.

I’ll be interviewing her next Tuesday.

Peter Smith, the author of Hiring Squirrels: 12 Essential Interview Questions To Uncover Great Retail Sales Talent, has spent more than 30 years building sales-teams at retail and at wholesale. A graduate of Boston College and the Harvard Key- Executive Program, Peter has served on the Advisory Board of Caliper’s Global Conference. He is also a regular columnist for National Jeweler and the Centurion Sales Newsletter, where he writes about sales, personnel and management issues pertaining to Independent Retail Jewelers. Smith has previously worked with companies such as Tiffany & Co., Montblanc and Hearts On Fire and he was recently appointed as president of Vibhor Gems. Smith’s book Hiring Squirrels is available in print or Kindle digital edition on 

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