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Tips on Reading a Resume

For many small business owners, HR duties can be challenging and overwhelming, particularly when it comes to the hiring process. With the economy in the state it’s been in for the past few years, it’s no surprise that any job opening is met with a seemingly endless supply of eager applicants. So, how do you sift through the dozens, or even hundreds of applications that are flowing in? Here are a few tips on what to look for in a resume that will help you narrow the selection and improve your chances of selecting the best candidates.

Set Aside Time

You’re undoubtedly being pulled in a million directions, and juggling dozens of hats on a daily basis. Sitting down and pouring over resumes probably seems like a colossal waste of time, but it’s a necessary evil if you want to hire someone who is a good fit for the job and will have the staying power to be in it for the long haul. Otherwise you may find yourself in the same boat 6 months from now, not to mention the money and time you’ll be out for training and onboarding your new-former employee. If you want to do it right, take the time to really read through the submissions you’re getting. It’ll be worth it in the end.

Read Between the Lines

Reading through a resume effectively involves more than just skimming for keywords and random work experience. It’s also important to dig deep enough to identify noteworthy accomplishments and promising results, both in direct and indirect relation to the actual job title in question. Reading between the lines to filter out this information will provide much better indicators of future success. 

Look Past Small Imperfections

We’ve all heard time and time again the importance of submitting flawless resumes, but as a potential employer it’s important to take into consideration that most of the people applying for a job aren’t professional resume writers. What’s more, given today’s economy, many do not have the means to hire a professional to draft their resume or cover letter for them. For that reason, if you happen to notice a little flaw here or there, and it isn’t relevant to the actual job you’re hiring for, consider letting it go. You’d hate to miss out on the perfect candidate just because he or she misspelled a word or two.

Focus on Key Areas

When reviewing resumes, try to focus on three key areas that will give you a quick summary of the candidate and help you to determine whether each belongs in the “yes” or “no” pile:

Objective/Professional Summary – This should provide a clear picture of who the candidate is, what type of job they’re seeking, and why they’d be the right fit for the role. If this section is vague and doesn’t convey this critical information, chances are the candidate is not worth your time.

Most Recent Job Title/Employer – While not necessarily a deal breaker, having a candidate whose most recent work experience is similar to the job you’re hiring for can make for an easier transition. Look for any noteworthy skills that would particularly suit the role you’re trying to fill.

Quantifiable Results (a.k.a. “the numbers”) – The best indicator of future performance is past accomplishments. Look for any quantifiable evidence of the impact a candidate has had on his or her present employer. This could be in terms of dollar amount he or she saved the company, number of new clients or % of sales that were achieved as a result of his or her efforts, or how their actions helped improve productivity, output, service, etc. for the company.

What to Watch For

Be wary of resumes that include significant gaps in employment history, or list several jobs in a relatively short period of time, which could indicate lack of stability or “job hopping”. The present economic state may easily explain some of this; however, it would of course be incumbent upon the candidate providing an adequate explanation up front in order to be considered for the position you’re interviewing for. 

All that being said, the most effective and efficient way to field through resumes is to sort them into piles labeled, “interview”, “possible” and “no”. This will make the process much more organized and help you keep better track of potential candidates. If you’re truly strapped for time, consider having another employee that you trust do the sorting for you, and even conducting preliminary interviews to narrow down the selection. You can then focus on interviewing only the top few candidates before making your final decision. 

The hiring process is rarely simple, particularly in today’s economy. By following these tips, you can save time and focus on locating only those candidates that would be best suited for the role you are trying to fill, which will give you the best chance of hiring the perfect employee for the job.

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posted by Rebecca Daneault @ 2:38 PM