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Category: Resume

How to Review a Resume

Reviewing a resume is definitely more art than science. Every hiring manager or Human Resources director has certain things they look for. In fact, some things that one may see as a strength another sees as a red flag.

This task can be made even more difficult depending on your organization’s recruiting and hiring policies. Most companies do not require that every person who sends in a resume be interviewed, but I have heard of some who do. This is typically the result of previous EEOC complaints or lawsuits. The process still works best when you use resumes as an “interview on paper” of sorts, and are able to winnow the field down to the most qualified candidates before interviewing. The reviews of the working of the human resource management should be consistently monitored through the person. If there is any deviation, then it should be stated to them for solving them. 

After more than a dozen years reviewing resumes, these are specific things that I look for:

  1. Overall readability of the resume. Is it clear, concise and free of spelling and grammar errors? Of course, the person may have hired a professional to create the resume for them, but such cases are rare. A resume is a prospective employee’s opportunity to make a good first impression. If it is sloppy, disorganized, and filled with errors, you have a fairly good indication of what type of employee they would be.
  2. Length of time at previous jobs. There is some debate about how to interpret this. In the past, a long period of service with a company was prized as a sign of stability. Now it is sometimes seen as a lack of ambition, especially for managerial candidates. I think there is a middle ground; no one stays 20 years at a company any more, but changing jobs every year is never a good sign, especially if the changes did not involve advancement.
  3. Types of positions held at previous jobs. While it is always a plus to hire someone who has done a job similar to the one you are hiring for, there are also benefits to bringing in someone with different skills that can learn your specific processes. This gives your company a deeper pool of talent.
  4. Education. For the most part, unless a four-year degree is required for the position, this is the last section I consider. Education is important of course, but I will often give as much weight to continuing education credits earned in recent years as to a degree earned 20 years ago. A community college continuing education class on the use of Microsoft Power Point is more valuable to me than a sociology class taken in 1988.

Even using this process, I have typically found myself with many resumes left over. At that point, I start interviewing, because no matter how long you’ve been doing it, you can only learn so much about a person from two sheets of paper.