As a recruiter, I review many resumes. However, due to the volume received and the time available to review materials, many recruiters and hiring managers alike typically only have a few seconds to review a candidate’s materials before deciding whether or not to pursue a candidate. While the most experienced recruiters and hiring managers possess the ability to quickly analyze and search for the most pertinent information in a resume, many still struggle to pull the top talent and best fit from the talent pool.
So what exactly should hiring managers look for in a resume? What do resumes of top talent always contain besides the obvious error-free grammar and spelling? To ensure you are picking the diamond in the rough, consider focusing your search on these big-picture items.
The first thing I typically do with a resume is quickly scan for readability. Proper format and structure can help facilitate a swift read and indicate the candidate’s ability to quickly sell themselves. Consider the following questions when glossing over the resume:
A resume that is hard on the eyes can indicate a lack of taste and preparation, which will probably surface into the workplace at some point in time. If a candidate takes pride in their experience and history, s/he will take the time to create a presentable resume.
Look for the story
Readability is great…okay, now what? Some resumes do a great job of painting a picture of the candidate’s professional experience and history. Unfortunately, the sad reality is that many resumes simply supply a list of jobs that do not tie together cohesively to tell a story. In any resume, you want the candidate to present themselves well. How someone presents themselves in their resume can reflect how someone will present themselves on the job. A resume with a story can really portray a candidate’s personality in addition to their experience level. To find out whether a candidate is a good fit for the position, consider the following:
To save yourself some time as you dive deeper into reviewing candidates, look for resumes that are not two-pages of fluff but are instead filled with meaningful accomplishments. Vague resumes and empty adjectives make it difficult to see the hard facts. Candidates that quantify their achievements using exact numbers and dollars wherever possible really display the candidate’s ability to make an impact on the job.
Rule of thumb: Rather than a listing of job responsibilities, look for resumes that use the C-A-R method (Challenge-Action-Results), and preferably in reverse, to showcase accomplishments and tell a compelling story. Why in reverse? As mentioned previously, hiring managers have limited time and the most important information should be displayed first for the reader’s eye to quickly catch.
In a previous blog post I talked about how job hoppers differ depending on the age, industry, occupation and rate of job lay-offs. While it is easy to weed-out the job hoppers during the interview phase, if someone has been at a job less than two years or has a large gap between jobs, it can be difficult to understand the “why” by just looking at a piece of paper.
So when it comes to longevity, how often is too often? After much research, I feel that using 3.5 years tenure is a good starting point, knowing that millennials will likely average two years and older senior executives five years.
BONUS: Personal brand and online presence
In this digital world, a personal web presence can give a hiring manager an opportunity to learn more about a candidate than what is just listed on paper. Additionally, more and more employers are hiring candidates through social media sites such as LinkedIn because these sites offer a streamlined way to receive the most up-to-date information about a candidate.
Candidates that utilize their resume to link to a personal website, e-portfolio, LinkedIn profile or even Twitter handle can make it easier for the hiring manager to see how the candidate adds value to the industry and can get a sense of the candidate’s professional voice online.
While there is no clear formula to evaluating a resume, utilizing these tips can help you notice any red flags and ultimately reduce the amount of time it takes to review candidates.