Your candidates are not professional resume writers
If you are a hiring manager or someone who reviews resumes regularly you may use the resume as a method for screening candidates – either screening them IN – or screening them OUT. Most often, resumes are used for screening candidates OUT. I believe this method may be flawed.
As a hiring manager you have limited time to review candidates and decide who is selected for an interview. The resume is your first view into the candidate. You look it over, see a couple of grammatical errors or typos and decide to pass – right? Not a good approach – in my humble opinion. Here are some thoughts to ponder…..
1. Consider the competency – unless you are hiring a professional writer, then the resumes for staff level hires will likely be a bit rough. Software Engineers write source code – and they are detail oriented – so their resumes will probably be long, detailed and fairly mechanical. Accounting professionals typically write very short descriptions of their experience – and they will not embellish their role so it may be difficult to derive their real job from a resume. Marketing folks talk about relationships and outbound programs – tasks and activities – very project focused.
2. Temper your emphasis on resume critique. Rather than looking at the mechanics of the resume for insight into the candidate, try looking into the resume. What was the scope of their responsibility? Did they receive any promotions? What is their average length of employment? Do they appear proud of their work?
3. Remember the recession. Over the last 5 years a large portion of the working population suffered layoffs, firings, company closures and an inability to secure stable employment. Don’t forget this phenomenon when you are reviewing resumes. If you are lucky enough to find someone who was stable and employed during this period they are probably a keeper – interview them!
4. Don’t judge job titles. There are people who are truly at a staff level but have inflated titles – perhaps because they work for a small company – or maybe the title was in lieu of a market salary. Look past the title and into their company and scope of responsibility. For instance – everyone who works for a bank is a VP of something – that doesn’t mean that they can be a VP anywhere else.
5. Education and community. I get some good insight into who a person is by looking at their education and outside activities. If you are looking for a sales executive, then look for someone who played sports in college, received a scholarship for athletics, or enjoys intramural team sports in their spare time. This signifies a competitive spirit – very important in sales. An engineer with current certifications probably indicates that they are and will stay current with trends in the industry – this is very important since technology changes so quickly.
6. Cover letters – an added dimension. You can gain some important insight into what a candidate thinks is important by the contents of their cover letter. Do they make a connection between their experience and your job posting? Do they tell you why they are interested in the position? Do they talk about their knowledge of the company? In my experience cover letters are a much more “gut level” indication of the candidate – less prepared and a bit more emotional.
If you are only using resumes as a reason to DISQUALIFY someone there is a high probability that you will miss some of the best professionals out there. As much as we’d love to think that everyone’s resume looks as good as yours (hiring manager) – there is a reason why you are in the hiring seat – right? Happy Hiring!
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