Most leaders have read hundreds, maybe even thousands, of resumes. But is there any method to the madness? If you want to give every candidate a fair shot at securing a spot on your team while getting through the pile quickly, there should be.
To start, you should have the job description in front of you when looking at a resume that pertains to the open position in question. You’ll need to use this as a guide to ascertain whether the applicant has the requisite education, experience, and hard skills to warrant further consideration.
Now, you’ll want to look for a pattern of achievement and results. You are looking to see that a candidate has a history of making tangible contributions to his employer. Along with results, you’ll want to determine if the candidate’s career trajectory makes sense. Does she move up the ladder in a predictable manner, commensurate with her achievements? Learning starting and leaving dates, titles, and salaries is obviously useful as well. A pattern of short-term employment or repeated lateral moves may signal trouble. Candidates will probably try to spin – or leave off altogether – unflattering information. Your job is to read between the lines.
Last but not least, you should look carefully at the format and presentation of the document. While the one-page rule has generally now fallen out of favor, resumes of any length should still be neat, well-written, and free of any typos or spelling errors.
If you’ve decided not to pursue a candidate based on her resume, make sure it’s for the right reasons. Be careful of unconscious biases you might be carrying – for example, the person is not the typical age for the position, doesn’t live in a good neighborhood, or got her undergraduate degree from your school’s archrival. These things are simply not important compared to the candidate’s inherent ability to do the job.