Hiring a new employee can be a daunting task, especially in the current economy where there are so many people looking for work. If you don't have a big Human Resource department to sift through resumes you need a plan to get through the hiring process quickly and effectively.

Develop Your Needs and Wants List

First consider what the actual job is that you need to hire for. Is this job about specialized skills or the right attitude and on the job training? Ask yourself these questions and write down the answers:

1. What is the minimum education level required for the job?

2. Is experience required for the job, and if so, how much?

3. What tasks MUST the new employee need to do? What skills are required for those tasks?

4. What other tasks would be nice for the new employee to be able to do? Think not just of the specific job but of other weaknesses in your Human Resources lineup. Would you give bonus points for the ability to cover another unrelated job in your organization?

5. Would an additional language skill be valuable?

6. What is the position worth and do you have the budget?

By answering these 6 questions you can create a simple job description to hire against.

Write the Right Help Wanted Ad

Craft your help wanted ad with this job description in hand. Clearly spell out the minimum requirements and the wish list of optional requirements. An effective help wanted ad is the first step to getting mostly qualified job applicants and saving a whole lot of time in the process of reviewing resumes. It also serves as a framework to evaluate the applicants by.

Receive the Resumes and Start Sorting Them

You may want to create a free or company email address to receive resumes at that is seperate from your normal email. This way you can pick the times you focus on the hiring process and not disrupt your regular work.

Start a folder in your email labeled with the job name. Create sub folders for "Printed", "Rejected", "Interview" and "Interviewed"

As the resumes come in scan them for suitability. Any that do not meet your minimum requirements do not need to be printed and can be immediately filed under Rejected.

All that meet your minimum requirements, or appear to, should be printed. As you print move the resumes to the Printed folder. Printing resumes is important for later sorting and for making notes on the resumes. It also gives you good evidence of your hiring process in case you are accussed of discrimination at some point. Place the printed resumes in a file labeled with the Job Title.

Sort and Rank the Resumes

Sort the printed resumes quickly. Scan to ensure that each applicant meets the minimum job requirements. Any that do not go in the reject pile.

After you have looked through all the resumes, go through them again. Mark each resume with a grade - A, B or C based on the cover letter and the combination of experience and education. Physically sort the resumes into A, B and C piles. You can refine the grades with A+, A-, B+ if you want.

Discard all the B- and C applicants.

Evaluate the As and Bs again looking for interesting additional skills or capabilities that could benefit the business but are outside the job description you created. The ability to help in a second area of the business can elevate an applicant over other applicants with similar skills and education.

Also evaluate if you can afford the A applicants. If you are looking for a mid level person and have applicates that are high level, maybe you can't afford them or they are likely to leave as soon as they get a better offer.

Cut More Resumes

Look for applicants that failed to proof read their resume or cover letter before submitting it. Also look for anyone that failed to follow the instructions in your help wanted ad. If they did not pay enough attention to applying for the job correctly they are unlikely to pay attention to doing the job correctly. Cutting out these resumes will slim down the pile.

Pick Your Interview Candidates and Do the Interviews

Start with phone interviews. This is faster, less structured and can weed out applicants that may already be considering job offers or recently accepted jobs.

Finally interview the remaining top applicants looking for personality, fit in the business, willingness to work hard, and other desirable qualities.

Other Legal Considerations

Be careful to only base your decisions on valid education, work experience, personality and attitude factors. Do not base your choices on race, sex, religion, or other factors that bear no relationship to proper hiring procedure. Discrimination is a crime and the consequences are not pretty. Simply it is not worth the risk to expose you or the company to an unfair hiring practices lawsuit.

Avoid any suggestion of improper hiring procedure by making sure to base your decisions on clearly non-discriminatory factors. Hang on to the stack of resumes you considered, complete with notes, because this documentation can be used to show the process you went through to hire the new employee and that the applicant alleging discrimination was actually considered but found to be under qualified compared to the applicant you choose in the end.

Another advantage to hanging onto the resumes is that if for some reason your new employee does not work out in the first several weeks you can always go back to the resume stack and do more interviews. You may decide to hire your second choice rather than going through a whole second advertising, collecting resumes, and interviewing process.

Orientation and Training

The hiring process does not end with the decision to hire someone. The new employee needs to be trained on the company's systems and integrated into the business's distinct culture. It costs thousands of dollars to hire and train a new employee so take every precaution to make the right hiring decisions and than to properly integrate the new employee into the company so they perform well and stick around long term.