A resume is more than just a list of previous employers. From education to special skills, ample information can be gleaned about a potential hire through their resume alone.
While a cover letter, references, and an interview are vital to the hiring process, a resume is going to be a candidate’s initial foot in the door. If you’re currently hiring for a new position (and probably drowning in countless resumes) read on for four things to look for in this important document!
#1 Don’t Skim Descriptions
Most applicants will give a brief description of the duties they performed at previous jobs—and for good reason.
With so many different positions in the professional world today, it can be difficult to determine exactly how much experience a candidate has based solely on a job title. If a resume has a fair amount of description under each job listed, don’t just skim through them. Take advantage of this information and use it to determine which applicants are most equipped to perform the work you’re hiring them for.
If a resume lacks these descriptions, it may be a sign that they have little experience or simply don’t care much about getting hired.
Hiring tip: Cookie-cutter interview questions may not yield true insight into the candidate’s qualifications. During interviews, ask questions based on the information in the candidate’s resume. Many people opt for the question: “What is a problem you solved in this position?” The answer you receive will provide greater insight into the duties the candidate can perform.
#2 Check for Relevant Certifications
Whether they’re required or simply recommended, many hiring managers look for candidates with specific certifications. The benefit? If you opt for a candidate who’s already received these important certificates, you can potentially save time and money on training.
Relevant certifications are also a sign of experience in this field, which is another factor to watch out for. While many applicants may have work experience listed under their previous employers, a smaller batch will also have the certifications to prove it. This can assist in the process of narrowing down potential new employees.
Hiring tip: If possible, allow applicants to submit additional documents beyond their resume and cover letter. This will give them the opportunity to show proof of their certifications.
#3 Keep an Eye Out for Red Flags
Red flags can be camouflaged within a resume, so it’s important to watch out for anything out of the ordinary. Of course, these signs don’t have to call for an automatic dismissal of a resume, but here are a few examples of potential problems to look out for:
- The phrase “references available upon request” instead of just submitting them
- Short periods of employment (less than a year, unless a reason is stated otherwise)
- Not listing the contact information for previous employers (when prompted)
Hiring tip: Complete a background check for employment of any candidates you’re seriously considering. This will reveal any hidden red flags, like a criminal record.
#4 Consider Special Skills and Interests
Experience is important, but it’s not everything.
When you hire someone, you’re signing up for the whole package. Personality can play a huge role in the success of a new employee, and the special skills and interests section of a resume can provide a glimpse of who they are beyond their previous employment.
Depending on your line of work, you’ll want to determine what personality traits will come in handy (and which will be adverse) to the job. Some traits to consider include:
- People skills –Does your field require customer service? Or team building? Or working with clients face-to-face? This type of work will require a more extroverted candidate. Determine this by looking for special interests that are more social, or previous employment in a different—but adjacent—industry.
- Writing – Writing skills can prove to be useful in a wide variety of work. If your applicant lists any type of creative writing as a special interest, take note that those literary skills can be put to use in many different ways (copywriting, email drafting, proposals, etc.)
Hiring tip: Awards may also be listed on a resume and provide information similar to a special interests column. This is particularly important in creative fields.
Don’t Underestimate the Power of a Resume
Think of a resume like a snapshot of your candidate. It’s not going to tell you everything, but it’s the perfect first glance to start the hiring process.
Sifting through resumes can be mind-numbing, but that doesn’t mean you should rush through it. Take the proper time to go over each resume to ensure you aren’t missing anything important (both good and bad).