Don’t Want To Drown

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I have a plan to retire after thirty years of supporting myself as a
single parent and a working wife. Though my husband’s teaching job is
officially temporary, we think he’ll eventually get formally hired. To
hedge our bets I have made a deal with my boss to allow me to go to
half-time this summer, and take a year to train my eventual
replacement. I know there are a zillion unemployed people. How can I
winnow the flood of applicants I expect to receive?

Don’t Want To Drown
Dear Don’t Want to Drown:

Set up a formal job description. If your company has a website, post it
along with the ad that you will also place on hiring boards and in the
newspaper. Specifically outline what are the minimum qualifications.
As you get applicants, winnow as you go. Those who lack the
minimum quails should go immediately into a No pile. Those with quals
and experience that are very far out of league ob the high end should
go into Maybe, because they night desert you if something better
comes along. Be sure to identify a salary range for the position, with
the note: salary based on experience. Request salary history along
with a cover letter and resume. Ditto a writing sample if it is relevant
and transcripts if a college degree matters.

Once you have a pile of strong Yeses, conduct a 5-10 minute phone screening
with each of them. Ask anyone who makes the cut to send you references,
professional not personal, and say you may prescreen those before the in-person
interview. If the applicants have too many jobs in a short time you may be
legitimately forewarned. Ask each person about each job, what did you like most
and least. Ask what their fantasy job would be and what they hope to be doing in
five years. For some, 5 minutes may be more than you can bear. For those you
like, 15 won’t be enough. If you get to 15 minutes and genuinely like the person
you are talking to, they get an in-person interview. In a situation like you are
describing, after actual qualifications to do the work, fit is all.