Top Tips for Reviewing Résumés

It’s not uncommon to get dozens, or even hundreds, of applicants in for a job opening.  Sorting through stacks of résumés can be daunting but there are some basic things to look for to narrow down the pool.  Many of these factors may seem trivial and some of them really are.  But, when someone is sloppy in their presentation and careless about details when they are trying to impress you and put their best foot forward, how sloppy will they be if they work for you?

Here are six questions to ask yourself while reviewing résumés:

  1. Did they follow your instructions? If a cover letter was requested, was it submitted?  Did they address it to the right person?  If additional materials were requested, such as writing samples or a salary history, were they included? If the applicant can’t handle basic instructions, they may not handle even the simplest job tasks well.
  2. Does the résumé look professional? Are design elements like spacing, fonts, and paragraph formats used consistently?  Is the length appropriate for the career level?  Are verb tenses consistent and correct? A professional and polished résumé is a sign that the applicant took their time and really wants the job.
  3. Are you getting the information you need? Does it show a comprehensive listing of their career progression?  Is the flow logical and easy to understand?  Are there specific personal or team accomplishments included?  A well-written résumé should go beyond just listing elements of their job descriptions.  It should emphasize what the individual contributed to the role.
  4. Do they have the basic qualifications you require? Check education, career progression, job titles and duties.  Do a quick search of the companies at which they’ve worked to see if there are any synergies with your own organization.
  5. Are there significant gaps in their timeline? This does not necessarily indicate a problem but is something to be explored.  Is there a 2-year gap because they went back to school or were caring for a family member or were they serving prison time?  It’s an important conversation to have.
  6. Is there significant turnover? Someone who is well into their career should have at least a couple of employers at which they were employed for at least 3 or 4 years.  If they are moving on to a new job every year or two this can indicate significant problems.  Is it a deal-breaker?  Maybe.  Tread carefully and, if you choose to take a chance and interview the candidate, be thorough in asking questions about this.

By following this simple list of checks you can significantly narrow your candidate pool to only those who are worth spending time pursuing.

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