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How to Find, Hire and Keep The Right Domestic Professionals

Principals & Managers —
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Household Staffing > Reviewing Household Staff Resumes

Proven Tips for Reviewing and Evaluating Resumes for Domestic Staff Candidates

ResumesResumes are usually the key written piece of information available to you to evaluate each domestic candidate, and it can sometimes be easy to lose sight of what exactly you're looking for. Harvard Business Review's Hiring an Employee notes that the three key things to remember as you're screening applicant resumes are:

  1. A candidate's past job performance is a strong predictor of their future job performance. Psychologists generally agree that past behavior is a good basis for forecasting future behavior.
  2. Together, the right experience; the right skills and abilities; the right personal characteristics (e.g., positivity and accountability); and the right overall fit for your household's culture make for a good match.
  3. Be on your guard against aiming to hire somebody just like you, i.e., what psychologists call the "similar-to- me" bias. Instead, seek to find someone who is right for the particular position you need to fill (this point is relevant for managerial level and administrative domestic roles).

Challenges in Evaluating Resumes to Get to the Truth

The challenge when screening resumes is that they often don't provide accurate representations of potential employees; rather, resumes can be viewed as job-seeker marketing pieces. In addition, it can feel tedious to read through stacks of resumes. As you read a resume, try to look past the surface information to get closer to what's really going on. The unfortunate reality is that resumes often contain inaccurate information and/or leave out information that would be helpful for you to know (and that does not reflect favorably upon the applicant).

In a 2015 survey by the employment website CareerBuilder of more than 2,500 hiring managers, the survey's authors found that 56% of hiring managers have caught lies on applicant resumes. It seems that the most common lie is the embellishment of skills or abilities. Upwards of 62% of the survey participants indicated that they came across such embellishment. Moreover, 54% of the hiring managers surveyed said that they found candidates misrepresenting the scope of their prior work responsibilities. About one-quarter of the hiring managers even came across applicants who indicated that they worked for employers for whom the applicants never actually worked.

Using Red Flags to Avoid Domestic Hiring Mistakes

You can gain a clearer picture of candidates by being aware of potential red flags as you evaluate applicant resumes. Here's a list of common red flags that I recommend looking out for as you evaluate candidate resumes:

  • Jumping from job to job (i.e., a pattern of short-term employment)
  • Gaps in work history
  • Lack of a logical work progression (i.e., a pattern of flitting about in different fields)
  • Excessive self-promotion (i.e., "I'm a visionary house manager")
  • Poor overall resume structure and presentation (most relevant for managerial and assistant positions)
  • Overly specific resume file names (i.e., "John Smith Houseman Resume" vs. "John Smith Resume" — in this case, John Smith may have experience that's all over the place).

Have Two Different Staff Members Review Resumes

For household employers who rely on hiring staff to select their household employees, I highly recommend, when possible, having two different staff members review applicant resumes. While most principals' agents do a great job of hiring domestic employees, I have noticed that sometimes a hiring manger will automatically disqualify "overqualified" candidates. This can result in the loss of great people. When two sets of eyes review resumes, there's a good chance that at least one of the reviewers will want to interview an applicant who, at first glance, appears too qualified for the position at hand. Such seemingly overqualified candidates sometimes turn out to be among the best-performing employees at a residence.

In summary, as you read through resumes, remain open-minded yet skeptical, and keep in mind your overall goal: to find someone who will match well with your unique needs and preferences. Again, the combination of the right experience, the right skills and abilities, the right personal characteristics, and the right overall fit for your household's culture will make for a good match. Moreover, by 1) keeping in mind that many resumes are not accurate and 2) watching out for red flags, you'll greatly increase your chances of avoiding a problematic hire and increase your chances of finding someone who will excel in the position at hand.


Looking to learn more about today's best practices for hiring household staff? Take advantage of our special offer below!

Domestic Professionals book

Principals, Managers & Assistants – Now you can request a complimentary copy of the newly released book for household employers by Hamptons Employment Agency, Inc. Founder and President, Aleksandra Kardwell…

How to Find, Hire, and Keep the Right Domestic Professionals

The Household Employer's Guide to Hiring Great Employees Who Will Stay for Years

Request your complimentary copy today by clicking here or on the book image at left. 

Or, contact us today for a free, no-obligation, privacy-assured phone consultation. Give us a call at one of our four locations listed below. We look forward to hearing from you regarding your domestic staffing needs.

Hamptons Office:  631-204-1100
New York City Office: 212-810-9828
Boston Office:  617-800-4701
Florida Office:  561-866-2633

Or, use our brief and easy online Staffing Inquiry Form.

We look forward to hearing from you regarding your Household Staffing needs.