Effective Strategies for Reading Resumes Well

Reading a resume can be hard work. Candidates at every career stage often don’t know how to write about the experiences they’ve had. The resume format is often unfamiliar and esoteric for the candidate and managers alike. The consequence of misreading can be a lost opportunity for an employer who doesn’t recognize the strengths a candidate would bring to the business.

Resume screening is an important part of a staffing agency’s role. A new job opening can lead to a flurry of applications. Sorting out the strongest candidates takes the right tools and a trained eye. By the time a resume is in front of a client for consideration, it has already gone through an expert’s hands.

Still, the client needs to know what to look for in a resume to ensure the candidate is the right fit for the job.  Here are a few suggestions from the recruiters at Connect Staffing:

Focus on fit.

The first question to ask is: Does the resume reflect the critical skills needed for the job? Finding the right fit starts by comparing the candidate’s resume with the job description. The intangibles of the position—workplace culture, reliability, and so on—may not be easy to express within the four corners of a resume, and might instead be best addressed in an interview.

Think broadly.

In this era of keyword-driven HR, employers can miss a great candidate simply because a magic word is missing in a resume. Aptitude for a job can develop in a variety of ways. A customer service mindset can be found in someone who has done some volunteer work, even if their career thus far has focused on backroom work. The attention to detail needed on a production floor can be developed playing in a band. Be open to seeing how the candidate’s background will enhance your business.

Recognize your biases.

Everyone who reads a resume brings biases to the task. If you asked ten people to look at a resume, chances are you’d get ten distinct responses. One person might get stuck on how long the candidate has stayed in previous jobs. Another person might focus on word choices. Still another might have heard something negative about a prior employer and unconsciously hold that against the candidate.

There’s nothing wrong with biases like these so long as we recognize them for what they are. Putting too much store in any one tiny feature of a resume risks missing the forest for the trees.

Start preparing for the interview.

A great habit to develop as a hiring manager is to keep notes as you review a resume. A good interview should include questions drawn from the candidate’s resume. What does the candidate want you to know? What open-ended questions come to mind, the sort that will get the candidate talking? Are there gaps between the resume and the job description you would like to address? Jotting down questions like these will help the interview go well, in part by showing the candidate that you’ve done your homework.

Know the resume is just one piece of the puzzle.

A candidate’s resume is a great starting point for getting to know someone. It offers a concise view into the person’s history. It also gives a sense of the kind of work a candidate can do when the stakes are high.

But a resume should be seen as just the first step in a longer process. No resume tells the whole story of a candidate’s background and personality. Quite often the candidate with the “best” resume turns out to be less fit for the job than someone who has a less-than-ideal C.V.

That’s another important part of the staffing agency’s job: to get to know the whole candidate, not just the person reflected in a resume. When we send a client a resume to review, we’re confident that it can be the start of something great.

Connect Staffing will be your guide

The recruiters at Connect Staffing are passionate about finding great candidates for our clients and giving our associates opportunities to work for great companies. We treat resume reading as both an art and a science, and we love to share what we know with our clients.

How does your company look at resumes? Could your team use a partner to get the most from your staffing decisions? We’d love to talk. Give us a call today at (714) 622-4494 or send us an email.


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