From the Director’s Desk: How Hiring Works

Recently, a student we’ll call Joe, visited the office to discuss the poor results from his job search. He was sending out resumes and cover letters but wasn’t getting called for interviews. Both documents looked good. He had two internships and several other experiences to showcase. Joe didn’t understand why employers weren’t calling him. To me, the problem was apparent. Joe’s resume was all about what Joe did before and what Joe wanted next. Joe had no idea how hiring works. I pushed his paperwork aside and began to talk to him about the hiring process.

Hiring is hard work

Hiring is one of the hardest things an employer does. It is time-consuming and stressful – so much so an employer will continually put it off (hence, why the process takes so long).

Consider the steps to hire a new employee:

  1. Identify a need: either a new position or re-filling a vacated position
  2. Create (or update) a job description
  3. Develop the reporting structure and supervisor responsibilities for the position
  4. Research salary data and budget lines to determine competitive salary level
  5. Post position with external sites (costs money); contact colleges and universities to post positions, place on your website; announce via LinkedIn (all of which takes time)
  6. Receive resumes – 10 a day? 100? More?
  7. What if you don’t receive any resumes?
  8. Skim each resume to determine initial reaction – while it is easy to eliminate the grossly unqualified candidates, you will still have many suitable candidates
  9. Re-read those resumes that survived the initial scan. Determine which fit the qualifications, have the requisite skill set, and could provide value to your organization
  10. Spend considerable time contemplating the candidates to reach the 5-7 for a phone interview
  11. Schedule candidates for a phone screen (this could take days)
  12. Prepare questions and conduct 30-40 minute phone screen with each
  13. Review your notes from each phone interview – who seemed right?
  14. Determine which three you will bring in for an interview
  15. Contact those three to arrange in-person interviews (this could also take days)
  16. Prepare for the interview by developing questions and scenarios for them to answer
  17. Conduct the interviews. Have them meet your team.
  18. Evaluate each interview. Who would make a good team member? Who had the right skills? Were any of them exaggerating? Were all of them? Which one would stay a long time? Which one was worth investing time and money?
  19. Get feedback from your team (which may or may not clarify matters)
  20. Stay up nights stressing over the decision
  21. Schedule and conduct second interviews (more time)
  22. Make final decision – reach out to make offer
  23. Negotiate salary and benefits. Hope they don’t have competing offers.
  24. Wait. Don’t sleep.
  25. Finally! Candidate said yes!
  26. Arrange for first day, orientation, training program, payroll information, etc.
  27. Start candidate for first day of work.
  28. Immediately begin hoping you didn’t make the incorrect choice!

On top of all the above, the person doing the hiring still must do their every day job!

So… does hiring sound easy?

What an employer wants more than anything is to feel they are making the right choice. They do not want to be wrong; if they are… they have to do it all over again!

What an employer wants and how to begin to address those wants

An employer is trying to determine certain things about you as a candidate: What you have done? What you can do? Were you successful in your previous roles? Are you the right fit for this position?

Therefore, your resume and cover letter should be focusing on these key details.

Your first step is to identify the skills, experiences, and abilities that you are offering to an employer. You must know yourself first before you can effectively persuade anyone else to know you. It may help to talk to others about your skills or to even take a skill assessment. Once you have a solid understanding of what you are offering you can move on to the next step.

This is to fully understand the position (or position type) in which you are applying, as well as the employer. What skill sets and experiences are required to be successful in the position? What is the employer asking for? What does the organization do and what principles or values do they hold dear? Through this type of investigation into the career field, the job, and the employer, you can begin to frame your qualifications to directly speak to the employer’s needs.

The third step is to mesh together what you bring and what the employer wants in your written and verbal communication.

Putting it into writing

Your resume and cover letter speaks to the needs of the employer by showcasing your skills and experiences that directly match those needs. If they are looking for a creative go-getter, then you showcase these things about yourself in your writing. They want someone who puts customers first; you show them where you have put customers first. Try to quantify your experiences as much as possible – prove you were successful with numbers or positive outcomes. This gets employers excited.

Focus on the employer… not on yourself

The idea then is to focus on what the employer wants and needs, what their concerns are when hiring, and attack those needs and concerns with examples of how you can add value to the organization. Do this and you make the hiring process easier on the employer. In turn, the employer likes you, respects you, and will feel you are the right candidate for the position. This creates the win-win situation for you and the employer.

Joe got the point. He re-wrote his resume and cover letter to focus on what an employer wanted to know. Joe addressed the difficulties of the hiring process. He put himself in an employer’s shoes and wrote what he would want to know about a candidate in order to consider him. Joe’s still looking for a job… but now he’s getting interviews.

For more assistance in writing your resume and cover letter, interviewing for success, and job search tips as a whole, get engaged with the UNH Career Development Center in person and online.

Matt Caporale

Executive Director
UNH Career Development Center



Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook Email
  1. Great article. I am going to share this with my network of candidates and my clients. Thank you for putting it all down on paper. I see this happening every day.