Topic:

What are the top five things I should consider when reviewing an applicant's resume?

September 11, 2015
What are the top five things I should consider when reviewing an applicant's resume?

Time-pressed recruiters spend an average of just six seconds reviewing a job seeker's resume before deciding whether the candidate is a good fit for the job. Focusing on five key areas can help you absorb the pertinent information quickly and objectively.

Layout and Language

A cluttered visual layout, inconsistent formatting, mixing tenses, changing points of view (first or third person), spelling errors and errors in grammar may reveal a lack of attention to detail. If after six seconds the resume is more flop than pop, you may want to move on.

Easy-to-Find Education

Whatever your key educational criteria, such as college degrees, memberships with professional organizations, or foreign languages, skim the resume and make sure the candidate has them. If not, you may want to move on to other, more qualified candidates.

Personal Statement

Strong candidates know how to structure a short personal statement to their advantage by:

  • Tying together their skills, achievements, motivation, and providing clear examples to support any claims made.
  • Picking up on keywords used in the job description, while avoiding cliched buzzwords.
  • A succinct and engaging personal statement can help you zero in on key candidates.

Job History, Start and End dates

You may want to focus on 3 things here:

  • The candidate's recent job history and their stated experience, accomplishments, and contributions
  • Unexplained gaps in the candidate's employment history
  • Overly fancy job titles and exaggerated responsibilities

Almost 60% of candidates lie on resumes so you may want to scan the resume for possible embellishments.

Potential Red Flags

Red flags are the unexplained items or missing information from a resume. These might include:

  • Employment gaps
  • Evidence of decreasing responsibility
  • Evidence that a career has perhaps gone backwards or plateaued
  • Evidence of high job turnover
  • Multiple shifts in career path

Gaps or changes in a candidate's career are not themselves red flags. If they aren't accompanied by an explanation or occur often, you may want to make note.

Final Tips

Focusing on a few key features when considering candidates can make the review process quicker and more efficient.

Helpful Link:

How to Write a Resume that Doesn't Annoy People - Harvard Business Review

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