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Tips for Effective Resume Screening

7 Tips on How to Read a Resume

There’s a famous saying : “You can’t make a second first impression.” And this certainly applies to crafting the perfect resume. This simple piece of paper provides hiring managers with a detailed summary of a candidate’s educational background, work experience, internship opportunities, professional interests and relevant skills. A successful resume is one that grabs your attention and makes you, the hiring manager, want to learn more about this candidate because he or she has accomplished something that has sparked your interest.

Here are some tips that all hiring managers and employers should use to effectively read a candidate’s resume.

  1. Time Spans. When reviewing resumes, it is important to look at the time spans of the candidate’s past positions. If you find many short-term professional experiences, this may be an indication of a “job jumper” with a poor work ethic and/or who is unreliable and hard to please. Date ranges such as:- “Winter 2011” or “Summer 2011”- instead of concrete date ranges could mean a desire to hide brief employment periods. Long gaps in between jobs could indicate an unmotivated or undesirable employee. However, keep in mind that some people have been out of work for long stretches of time through no fault of their own due to the difficult job market and economic environment.
  2. “Look and Feel” of the Resume What can a resume tell you about a potential candidate? Words speak volumes, but so does the overall design of a resume. A colorful, overly designed resume with a lot of fonts and photos may indicate that an inexperienced candidate is trying to impress you with creativity, rather than work experience while a professionally designed resume could mean you`ve got a more seasoned and experienced candidate within your grasp.
  3. Passion for Their Profession – Does the potential candidate seem dedicated to their profession? Do they belong to a professional association, possess certifications, or take professional education courses? Do they have any trophies, patents, or awards? This could indicate a certain passion for the profession, a willingness to go the extra mile, and seriousness about their job that results in a satisfied, non-disgruntled employee that is willing to learn more and expand their horizons.
  4. Professionalism – The potential candidate should be putting their best foot forward when submitting their resume. Typos, grammatical mistakes, and other errors-indicate an inattentiveness and/or apathy that might carry over to their work. On the other hand, a well-written, targeted résumé is indicative of a candidate with attention to detail. Remember, personal is not professional. The fact that a candidate tells you they are married, loves softball or volunteers is not appropriate on a resume and shows a certain lack of professionalism.
  5. Know the Difference Between the Good Companies and the Bad This might seem obvious, but winning companies usually have sought-after, competent employees behind them. If a candidate has worked somewhere you know hires only REALLY good people, they are probably worth checking out.
  6. Use Social Media to Your Advantage – Use Social Media to review your candidate’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. Make sure that you -Google- the candidates of interest, using their name, city, and state. These steps will let you know if there is any unprofessionalism you should know about before you even interview the candidates. Checking their LinkedIn profile will allow you to learn a lot about the candidate. See how many connections your candidate has and if they are taking full advantage of their LinkedIn account’s capabilities. For example, if this is a sales or business development candidate, you do not want to hire him if he doesn’t utilize his LinkedIn opportunities. Compare the LinkedIn profile to his resume to make sure that he didn’t “change” his resume in order to sell himself. This action will help you see an authentic view of the candidate and learn about his honesty.
  7. Tell Me a Little Bit About Yourself – Take a spin on this common interviewing approach by asking the candidate to write one or two sentences about each one of the requirements you have included in the job description. In many cases, the exact nature of their job description can’t be told in a few sentences, and as a hiring manager, you may be unsure of exactly what the candidate did and whether they would be an ideal match for the position you are trying to fill. Asking the candidate to write something about each requirement can help you get a better picture, and in some cases, help you to reject candidates who are not a good match even before the interview, saving you time. Plus, it makes a good reference point for review purposes.

Remember, resumes are used as a filter to weed out the candidates you aren’t interested in interviewing. It’s not a perfect science, and if there is a candidate that you still find compelling, it’s better to err on the side of giving them a chance.

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