Hiring For the First Time: What to Look for in a Resume

Hiring For the First Time: What to Look for in a Resume 

For the first time in your career, you’re about to sit down on the hiring manager’s side of the table during the candidate evaluation process. You’ve been working in your field for a while now, and you’re finally ready to take on the responsibilities that come with hiring (and maybe even firing…gulp) your own direct reports.If your supervisors know what’s best for the company, they’ll provide you with plenty of training and guidance, and they’ll be at your side every step of the way as you sort through your applications and make your first serious hiring decision. But not all managers will have the time to walk you through the process…and let’s face it: not all managers know what’s best for the company. So if you’re on your own and you’re facing a stack of resumes for the first time, keep these tips in mind.

1. Know what you’re looking for before you begin.

The candidate search often works like a romance; you don’t know exactly what you want until you see it. But you can definitely take some of the guess work and risk out of the process if you create a list of must-haves before you even look at the first resume. You may decide to bend the rules on this later, but before you bend those rules, you should know what they are.

2. Follow your instincts regarding red flags.

“Red flags”, or strong signs of a mismatch, are a matter of context. You may see a glaring typo in the first resume and decide to toss it out (after all, you don’t need a sloppy, illiterate corner-cutter on your team). But if the second, third and fourth and tenth resumes also contain a similar number of typos, feel free to adjust your expectations.

3. Weigh accomplishments against chronological age (or years in the field).

Don’t discriminate against candidates who seem old or young, but do cast a second look over resumes with a disconnect between expected accomplishments and years in the field. Inexperienced candidates who show up on time and do what they’re told are impressive. Mid-career candidates who do the same thing, not so much. Leadership roles are impressive in mid-career candidates, but especially grand leadership accomplishments among new grads in their twenties may signal an exaggeration of the facts.

4. Don’t be afraid to verify.

If you’d like to investigate a resume claim by contacting a third party or searching for the candidate online, you can feel free to do so, but think first. If you call a previous employer, you’re likely to be told only the candidate’s dates of employment and position title. If you conduct an online search, you may learn more about the candidate than you want to know (such as his handicapped status, religion, or family status, which can make you a target for allegations of discrimination regardless of your final decision.)

5. Prioritize your needs.

In the end, you’re likely to face a handful of final contenders who can each offer some of what you need…but chances are slim that one candidate will offer everything. At this point, you can start issuing interview invitations and move on with the next stage of the selection process.Visit MyPerfectResume for more on how to spot great resumes—and terrible ones—in a stack of applications.