Reading a resume is literally just reading a piece of marketing material that has been created by the applicant to convince you to interview them. This is the part of the entire hiring process where you have the least amount of data and have to make the important decision of placing them in the “to interview” or “not to interview” pile.
Have A Plan
The first step in resume reading is to identify a focus and your goal. The focus needs to be a subset of the list of critical skills and aptitudes for the job requirements and your goal should be to find the candidates with the most or all of those requirements. You need to review the job description and pick out the criteria you need so you can use this to “grade” each resume. Computer skills, or technical skills are easy to identify, as well as education requirements for the position. Yet soft skills such as initiative, work ethic and being a team player, which are usually critical requirements, are much harder to glean from a resume.
Read In Correct Chronological Order
Most resumes are written in reverse chronological order, beginning with the applicant’s most recent experience. In order for you to get a better sense of each applicant, you will need to read their resume back to front. This allows you to follow the applicant through their career, examine if they have had steady job progress, or if they have job-hopped. It can highlight patterns, such as only staying in positions for a year. Look for trends of increasing responsibility and accomplishment in each position. Look for progressions such as; did they move to a higher position? could that be why they left the previous company? etc. You need to read through their resume in order to figure out how they have developed their career.
Look For Accomplishments
You want to hire someone who will deliver results that satisfy your business needs. Therefore you should be looking for instances/examples from their resume that indicate the person has delivered the same or similar results to what you need. The more examples of similar results, the more promising that candidate would be for your position.
Screen In Not Out
The goal is to hire a person. If you start reading every resume with the intention of eliminating that applicant, then you will never find a strong candidate. Instead you should be viewing each resume as a potential candidate and see how they would fit in.
In conclusion, resume reading, although providing a limited amount of information, is one of the most critical tools in hiring top employees. You need to have a plan that includes a specific focus and goal, read resumes in chronological order and above all remain positive that your ideal candidate is somewhere in that pile of resumes.
Having the right tools such as Criteria Matching Score Cards will ensure that you choose the best candidates for interview. You want to ensure that only the candidates with the highest matches to your job criteria will progress to the next recruitment stage. Having this tool will also ensure that you, as the selector, will not choose a candidate because of personal preferences.
Finally, keep in mind the phrase “Never judge book by its cover”. From personal experience, I have found some jewels which just needed their CV polished in order for them to shine out.