Friday, April 07, 2017

Job Posts that Screen Themselves

I have long used a series of screening techniques to get good job applicants from Craigslist (and other sites).

The problem is: Job recruiters and people who teach others to find jobs give HORRIBLE advice. They basically tell job seekers to spam the universe with their resume until someone magically sees it. The result might eventually get you a job, but it is very unlikely to get you a great job that's a great fit.

This is so bad for job candidates. What you're not doing is looking for that one perfect job where you can make friends, enjoy your work, grow professionally, and stay for a few years. Instead, you become a pain in the ass for people trying to hire - because 90% of your resumes go to places that would never hire you.

Disclaimer: I know it is super frustrating to find a good job. When times are bad it's very difficult and even more frustrating. But that doesn't mean doing the wrong thing over and over will find you a better job.

Here's what happens. I put out a standard ad for a service tech. Because of the bad advice they've been given, I get over a hundred resumes from people with no experience, SQL programmers, people seven states away, etc. In other words, these people have followed the bad advice and sent their resume to every ad that might remotely be related to what they actually want to do.

That puts the burden on me (or my admin) to screen through hundreds of resumes to find the handful that might actually be right for this job.

My Process for Hiring a Good Technician

Instead, I do all the filtering up front. First, I tell them straight up - Do not send a resume! Second, I give a thorough description of the job. The example below is from one of my coaching clients. I wrote it and am screening applicants for him.

I know it's hard to find a job. But I am looking for someone who will read that ad. That's someone who is serious and detail oriented. They're not spamming the universe.

Third, I ask them to send me a paragraph describing why they want the job. The instruction is, "Send 1-2 paragraph description of why you are passionate about technical consulting." Now, they may or may not be passionate about technical consulting, but if they submit a paragraph, at least I know they can write and follow directions.

In modern tech support (meaning since 1990), we need to use a ticketing system and put good notes in the system. Knowing how to install a motherboard is no longer a relevant part of this job. Knowing how to describe what you did is far more important.

Fourth, I send them an extensive "skills matrix" that lists the kinds of technology we use and asks them to rate their level of knowledge on this. It's not a test and it may not even be accurate. It is their own self assessment. I will still ask them to prove themselves along the way, but it gives me some sense of what they know and what they can do. You'd be surprised how many people admit they know nothing about anything related to the job!

Again, there's a huge filter there. Depending on the job environment, I might get 100 responses, 25 of which send a paragraph and are asked to send a resume. Of those, 10-15 will fill out the skills matrix. So instead of slogging through 100 applicants, I only look at the 10-15. And the best part is: I already know these folks care enough to jump through a few hoops, they can follow instructions, and they're actually interested in the job!

So if I'm willing to train, and they have some aptitude, I know I can turn them into great technicians. Plus, if I'm super lucky, I will find someone who turns out to be an awesome service manager or super star technician.

Some of the best technicians I ever hired were because of this process.

Here's that job ad.

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Sample Job Ad for Technical Support

Job description
Position: Level I/II Technical Support
Location: US-CA-xxxxxxxxxx

Employment: Hourly - W2 - Full Time
Compensation: Starts at $20/hr. Will go up with experience and specific certifications.

Note: Please read through this ad and do not send a resume unless requested to do so. We will not look at unsolicited resumes.

Excellent opportunity for goal-oriented, independent, high-energy, knowledgeable IT Specialist with outstanding customer service skills. 

We are looking for a top-notch field technician to join an established, nimble, fast moving team. Renowned for its superior technical skill and unrelenting dedication to its customers, this stable and long-standing company offers a secure position. A comprehensive compensation plan includes financial support for professional certifications, medical insurance, mobile devices, and mileage reimbursement/fuel allowance. 

This position offers the chance to be an integral part of the strategic growth of the company and is ideal for candidates seeking to be part of a small and responsive team in a work-hard, play-hard atmosphere. 

Daily activities require an individual to be capable of handling both routine and complex troubleshooting activities: working in office, utilizing remote diagnostics, or jumping in the car to head to a client's site. This is a critical, front-line position that requires interaction with customers, and rotational on-call hours. 

Key Responsibilities include: 

Upgrading, migrating, and installing Windows Server 
Desktop support - Microsoft Windows 
Malware/Virus troubleshooting and resolution 
Running routine back-ups for network servers and desktops 
Installing and administering IPSEC and SSL based VPN networks combined with thorough knowledge of TCP/IP, DHCP, DNS, LANS, WANS and Routers 
Configuring, deploying, migrating and troubleshooting Windows Server, client PC, networking, printing, and related hardware and/or software issues

Desired Skills and Experience

Candidate Requirements: 

Two- or four-year degree in Information Systems, Computer Science, or related field 
CompTIA A+ Certification or a Microsoft certificate plus experience in lieu of degree 
Minimum of two years' hands-on experience in a business environment 
Prior experience directly supporting customers on-site or remotely 
Must be in good standing with DMV and have valid driver's license 
Ability to commute to customers in own vehicle (mileage reimbursement/fuel allowance) 
Pass a 7-year felony/misdemeanor background check and drug test
Ideally the candidate will also have hands-on experience with hosted services such as Exchange and Office 365
Experience with Autotask or another PSA very desirable
Experience with remote monitoring and management services
Good communication skills - with people and with writing service notes

Technology certifications are a PLUS, Microsoft or other.

Physical Demands
Must be able to stand or sit for extended periods of time
Must have the ability to stand, sit, squat, bend, kneel, twist, crawl, reach, lift, balance, push and pull as required for an IT position.
Must be able to lift 50 lbs/ frequent lifting and/or carrying objects weighing up to 100 lbs with assistance.
Must be able to drive to client locations.

For the right candidate, there is tremendous opportunity to grow in this company. We are in a growth mode. That means it's a fast-paced environment and opportunities will grow as the company does.

Special Notes:
We place a strong emphasis on Top Quality, Experience, and Customer Service. 

- Do not send a resume until requested to do so. We will not look at unsolicited resumes.
To apply for this position, send the following in response to this ad:
- 1-2 paragraph description of why you are passionate about technical consulting
- We will send a technology self-assessment to people who stand out. Some of these people will be asked to submit resumes.

We are looking for a long-term employee who will grow with the company as we evolve into offering some new and very cool technologies. If you want to work on known technology and just collect a paycheck, you won't fit in here.

This position is in XXXXXXXXXX. Please only apply if you are in the XXXXXXXXXX area or plan to move to the area.

We are looking for someone who is willing to learn *our* way of providing top-quality customer support. You will learn great trouble-shooting skills and be exposed to a wide variety of network setup and internet operations.

- - - - -

Comments Welcome.


  1. Where do I send my resume to again?

  2. Many years ago I came across a great book called "Throw Away Your Resume." It had lots of great advice, but the gist wax the same-- plastering the universe with unsolicited resumes is a waste of time.

  3. Thanks, Andrew. I'm shocked that the people who train others to get a job have been giving the same advice since the fax machine was invented.

  4. Thanks for sharing Karl! I'm having a problem with Indeed in that it does not allow to choose no resume but allow free form text for the paragraph. I have to require resume in order to allow paragraph write up. I also use Cragslist. Any other suggestions where to post?

  5. Jay - If you have to, you have to. Just make sure to tell them that you won't review the resume without 1-2 paragraphs on your topic.

    There's a service advertising like crazy on iHeart radio these days. But they are the exact opposite of what you want. They promise to post your job on hundreds of job boards. But that's just you spamming the universe. What will you get in return? Spam from people encouraged to send their resume to everyone on earth.

    It's a serious problem. As far as I can see, no one is actually working on a way to find jobs, or job applicants, without dealing with massive countering-spamming.

  6. Excellent advice, i do appreciate it. I think we all experience resume spam to one extent or another. I posted jobs on Indeed and thought hard about how do I ask for Windows Server experience without using the word "server" since it attracts tons of wait staff resumes. I figure I was only seeing 5% of remotely qualified individuals. Even the pre screening questions didn't help, first one was "2 years experience supporting networked computers in a business environment." Apparently using a POS system counts in some folks eyes?


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