What to look for in a resume

When hiring for an open position, knowing what to look for in a resume can make the process much more efficient and help in finding the right person for the role you are filling. With today’s high unemployment rate and massive increase in resumes being submitted for job openings, it is more important now than ever to be able to quickly look at a resume and be able to move it to the yes or no pile. 

Inherently resumes are difficult to evaluate.  It is often hard to compare resumes side by side because they do not look alike, people use different approaches regarding information to include on them, etc. One major objective is to evaluate resumes in an objective, standardized manner. Another major objective is to avoid the mistake many companies makeMany companies make the mistake when there are lots of resumes for a job opening by taking the first candidate that meets their minimum standardsWho knows how many more qualified people are further down in the stackFollow some of the best practices below to avoid these two major problems associated with resume screening. 


Considerations to make prior when reviewing resumes: 


What is the job you are trying to fill?

 There is a difference between hiring a senior executive and an entry level server at a local restaurant. When reviewing a resume from a senior executive, prior experience is going to be strongly considered whereby a server may still be in high school so other items such as school involvement and extracurricular activities will need to be consideredSo, with any opening make sure you have a quality job description and skill requirements that you can compare against each resume you receive 

How many openings do you have?

In mass hiring situations, it will be essential to focus on a core set of screening criteria to make the process efficient. These criteria could be items such as availability to work on weekends, prior experience of X number of years, education requirements and others. In situations whereby you have only one opening, you can afford to be even more selective in the initial screening process. Set up a list of criteria that are most vital to be successful on the job and stick to a disciplined approach for reviewThis also makes the process more objectiveNot all resumes are the same, but they should all be evaluated against the same criteria 

How quickly do you need to fill the position(s)?

Again, when doing high-volume hiring, especially with job openings that need to be filled quickly (like seasonal hiring), it is crucial to know what to look for in a resume. When time is of the essence, a streamlined efficient process to screen candidates can make or break an organization. Of course, on the flip side, when you have plenty of time, you can be picky and create a set of screening gates to find just the right candidateAgain, even if you need to fill a job immediately do not simply take the first resume you likeYou will undoubtedly be missing a more qualified candidate. 


5 Key items to look for when screening resumes 


1. Work experience

  • One of the best predictors of future performance is past performance.  One way to gather that information is to evaluate the previous experience someone has.  Do they have direct experience doing the job you are hiring for? If so, great, if not, do they have experience doing a job that is similar in nature? For instance, if hiring a customer service representative at an insurance call center – would it make sense to consider an applicant that has experience working at a bank’s call center? Most likely the answer would be yes, many of the skills required would be the same and if the hiring company has a good training program, then they certainly could make the transition an easy one. 
  • Tenure is also important when evaluating job experience but probably not in the way you imagine. If you are looking at a job hopper vs. someone who stays on-the-job for more than 2 years at a time can be a good datapoint when screening candidates.But just because someone has 10 years’ experience in a job does not mean that they have all the skills to do the job.  Some people have the same year repeated 10 times versus others have increased their skills over those 10 yearsSo, look for “accomplishments” on the resume beyond just roles and responsibilitiesAnd if the accomplishments are not listed be prepared to ask about them during the interview. 

2. Education

  • 10-20 years ago, education background meant simply what level of higher education do you have. Nowadays higher education certainly is still considered but equally as important are certificate programs, knowledge in certain keys areas such as SEO (Search Engine Optimization), software experience and many others has proven to play a significant role in the hiring decisionMake sure you do not simply require a HS (or college) education simply because everyone else doesMake sure that the degree can be linked to success on the job. 

3. Soft Sills

  • Typically, if a person has good soft skills, they are good candidates for a number of positions across industries. Soft skills are personal attributes such as time management, teamwork, conflict resolution and others. Measuring a candidate’s soft skills can be a tricky proposition but is also critical to finding the right hire. Look for any descriptors in the resume that call out these abilities – like, courses they have taken or examples of awards they won for teamwork, employee of the month or others. 

4. Hard Skills

  • Hard skills such as coding experience, machine operating capabilities, writing, mathematics all can be important when hiring. Screening for hard skills is a little more straightforward on a resume than soft skills because it is easier to show capabilities vs a personal attribute. 

5. Performance on-the-job

  • There is nothing better than looking at how someone performed when working a similar position. In sales, this is easier because you can look at pure numbers. In other jobs, you have to dig a little deeper and determine what success metrics are that you can look for in a resume. Items such as daily call volume, peer recognition. Promotions in the job are all good indicators of success. 

Once you have learned what to look for in a resume, it is time to make it as efficient as possible. Be sure to consider technology as a tool for evaluating resumes in a streamlined manner. Our AccuRecruiter solution is good for some companies who have high volume hiring needs and are looking for a way to screen those applicants based on specific criteria. When implemented, AccuRecruiter acts as the initial interview and can greatly reduce time to hire, reduce turnover and ultimately save companies money  

Related Resource: Best Hiring Practices – Top Questions Answered 

Related Blog Post: How to do Pre-Employment Evaluation Effectively