The Hiring Series, Part 2: Reviewing Resumes

Once you have a thorough job description created and posted to your preferred recruiting websites, you will begin to receive resumes. Determining whether you’ll include the candidate in your interview process will depend on what you look for when you review the resume.

Before you begin, create a list of characteristics or traits that are important for the role. Pair that with your job description, and you’re ready to go.

Here are the top five things to remember when reviewing a resume:

  1. Read the cover letter. This will give you insight into the candidate’s personality, thought process, and business-writing capabilities. Make sure you require one in your “How to Apply” section of your job posting. If there isn’t a cover letter, you can determine whether to ask for one from the candidate, move forward without one, or discard the resume because they didn’t follow directions.
  2. Look at the overall presentation of the resume. Is it multicolored? Does it have several fonts and font sizes? Is it grammatically correct? Is the format appealing? If you find misspelled words, poor content organization, or an overall unappealing presentation, discard the resume. Many online sites allow candidates to apply using an online application software versus attaching a resume document. If the candidate chooses to do this, there may be a difference in the appearance of the resume. If you want a resume document, be sure to ask for it in the “How to Apply” section of your job posting.
  3. Look for qualifications that match your required experience. If you require industry experience but the applicant has none, label the resume as “not qualified.” Repeat this with all other qualifications, characteristics, and traits you’ve prepared in the job description and your list. Read the candidate’s statement at the top of the resume, if there is one. Is it customized for your industry or another one? Did the candidate create a general statement that applies to all jobs? You are looking for an Insurance or Financial Services statement that is in alignment with the goals of the person you want to fill the job. If their goal is to become a nurse, then why would they apply to work in an independent financial practice?
  4. Look for gaps in employment. Review all roles and the time they spent at each company. Be leery of resumes that don’t have dates of employment or list the year only instead of month and year. If there are gaps in employment, those should be addressed in the cover letter you requested. A good candidate has infrequent job changes.
  5. Look for an increase in responsibility. Look at the position and responsibilities of each job on the resume. Did they stay in the same job at the same title for an extended time? If they changed jobs, did their position or responsibilities decrease? You are looking for candidates who have grown over time in their roles with the same company or in their career with multiple companies.

Overall, very few resumes should make it to your phone interview pile. My suggestion would be to pare resumes down to your top five choices. My process is to reach out to the candidates via email, schedule a phone interview, and, if they pass the phone screening, bring them in for a face-to-face interview.

Was this article helpful? Stay tuned for more posts in our hiring series, including more detail on how to interview candidates and make a job offer.