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How to Read a Resume: 5 Important Tips


Last week, I wrote Writing Your Resume: How to Get Noticed. As a follow up, I’ve put together the top tips I recommend to hiring managers and Recruiters for when they are reviewing the resumes of potential candidates. This is a critical area of the hiring process- where a lot of qualified candidates are inappropriately disqualified, or time is wasted on unqualified candidates.

1. Read from the bottom up.

When evaluating the work history section, read the positions in chronological order. This will allow you to get a better understanding of the candidate’s story and how they have progressed in their career. It also helps you to get a better sense of the current, relevant skills they can bring to your organization. I’ve noticed it also helps keep me on track for identifying employment gaps.

2. Look hard at the content.

A pretty or well-written resume does not guarantee a good candidate. Look beyond the job titles and really dig through their responsibilities and successes. More than headlines and words, do their experiences seem to reflect what you are needing?

It is important to think about the growth of your company and how this personmay fit into another position or even future role.

Embrace diversity by prioritizing skills and experiences over potentially discriminatory items. If you don’t know what criteria may be considered illegal, don’t start your hiring process until you’ve consulted with your internal HR group or a legal expert.

Use Ctrl F. If it’s a good resume, the candidate will ensure they are clear about the skills they personally used, how they used them and the positive impact they had for their employers. When skimming a resume, it’s easy to miss skills or keywords that are important to evaluate. When reviewing resumes online, use the Ctrl F function to find all of the locations on the resume that the skill or keyword is listed.

Be careful not to disqualify a resume simply because they don’t have a key skill or keyword listed under every position. It takes the right sophistication to interpret the text on a resume to identify the skills and keywords you are looking for. Also, ensure you keep in mind that not every candidate lists a skill, title, or even school name the same way. For example, we may see Georgia Tech and UX on one resume, and Georgia Institute of Technology and User Experience on another. It’s important to include the different permutations a candidate could use during your Boolean searches.

3. Give extra credit.

If you see that the candidate has customized their resume or cover letter to your specific position, it may be a positive indication around their professionalism or level of interest. For me, when I see a candidate has spent the time to review our job description, requirements and company, it helps me to prioritize them in my first calls.

4. Share.

I’ve found that many companies do not have mechanisms in place to evaluate candidates for other positions within the company, or for future roles as I previously mentioned. It’s easy to get in a reactive mode where the focus is around the position in front of you. To counter this, ensure your processes include ways to continually share available positions, the direction of the company, and candidates with high potential.

5. Say thank you.

When you have candidates that you would like to stay in front of, but don’t currently have a position for them, send a brief, personalized “thank you” for their interest. I understand the reasoning behind automated responses to all resumes, but a personalized note to certain candidates will go a long way in establishing relationships, building your pipeline of talent, and showcasing your brand.


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