key differentiators

The good news is, there was a great response to your most recent job posting. Candidates are submitting resumes left, right, and center, and there’s a pile of cover letters just waiting to be reviewed.

The bad news is, there’s a pile of cover letters waiting to be reviewed. After a while, they might all start to look very similar, making it harder to find the best candidates to join your team.

Without bringing everyone in for an interview, hiring managers need to look for distinguishing traits that can help separate a ho-hum candidate from a star waiting to be found.

Here are a few things to look for to help narrow down your search.

1. Look for engaged, specific resumes.

Most candidates looking for jobs are told to use a different resume for each type of position. A quick glance might help to hire managers to sort out those candidates who take the extra time to personalize their application to your position and your company from those who copied and pasted their information into a form and hit “send.” Someone willing to go the extra mile on an application is someone worth a second look and a little investigation.

2. Review what those resumes contain.

Now that you’ve found the specialized and specific resumes worth another review, pay close attention to what kind of experiences and skills are included. Depending on the kind of position you have open, you might look for various work history and training requirements, but don’t pass up unorthodox candidates who could bring some life experience to your team. For example, a woman who left the working world for a while to stay home with her family might have an employment gap, but she’s also a pro at time management, organizational skills, and prioritizing. Someone who served in the military might have a shorter resume than someone who went to work right out of college or high school, but they’ve got a strong sense of discipline and attention to detail. Read the lines as written on the page but then read between them.

3. Don’t discredit soft skills.

Even if you’re in a fast-paced, high-tech field, some soft skills can make a candidate more qualified than someone who can program and optimize websites and install the best targeting features. Look for someone with leadership experience if you’re looking to hire someone who can organize and drive a team; communication skills are key for someone who will be responsible for a lynchpin position and reporting to multiple teams and keeping people in the know; time management and prioritization skills will help keep everyone running on time and budget and can help ensure deadlines are met.

4. Look for personality and personal skills.

When it’s time for in-person interviews, pay attention to how the candidate presents themself and how they interact with anyone they meet. Do they offer a handshake or, due to COVID protocols, a fist bump? Do they greet people warmly or barely make eye contact? Someone who is eager to make a good impression will be energized and excited, ready to be remembered fondly by everyone, not just focused on the person who will decide to offer them a job.

5. Ask unexpected questions.

Not “what kind of tree would you be,” but create some questions that drive down to the heart of the matter: ask about scenarios that have happened on the job that are out of the ordinary. Ask about a favorite charity or nonprofit or volunteer experience the person has had. If they had $1 million to donate, divvied up as they’d wish, where would the money be allocated? Or get a little personal and ask how they’ve been misunderstood in the past or misconceptions people have had in work situations about their abilities. If they could re-do anything in their life, what would it be? Questions like this, and how long a candidate takes to think about their answer, can be telling and can help better understand how the person will react to the unexpected.

So much of the hiring process can also come down to first impressions and gut feelings. Don’t discredit that — you know your teams and how they operate and who will be a good fit and who might not.

Find Top Talent

When you’re ready to add to your team, contact Davis Staffing. We have a stable of qualified candidates who are ready and eager to join your ranks and are excited to get to work! Call Davis Staffing today, and let’s get started.