Reviewing Resumes: Heres What You Need to Know

May 14, 2024

Welcome to JB Hired's blog on reviewing resumes! As a headhunting agency, we know that finding the perfect candidate to fill a job opening can be a daunting task. One crucial step in the hiring process is reviewing resumes. According to a study conducted by The Ladders, recruiters spend an average of 7.4 seconds reviewing a candidate's resume before making a preliminary decision about their fit for a position[1]. In this article, we will guide you through the essential aspects of resume review and help you make informed decisions when evaluating candidates.

Understanding the Basics of a Resume

The Purpose of a Resume

A resume serves as a first impression of a job applicant. It provides a concise overview of their skills, qualifications, and job experience. The primary purpose of a resume is to showcase why a candidate is an ideal fit for a specific position within your company.

When a recruiter or hiring manager reviews a resume, they are looking for specific details that align with the job requirements. A well-crafted resume not only highlights the candidate's qualifications but also demonstrates their potential value to the organization. It is essential to tailor each resume to the job description to increase the chances of standing out among other applicants.

Key Components of a Resume

A well-crafted resume includes key sections such as the contact information, professional summary or objective statement, work experience, education, skills, and any additional relevant information. Familiarize yourself with these sections to quickly locate the information you need when reviewing resumes.

Each section of a resume plays a crucial role in presenting a comprehensive picture of the candidate. The contact information ensures that the recruiter can easily reach out for further communication, while the professional summary provides a brief overview of the candidate's career goals and achievements. Work experience and education sections delve into the candidate's background, showcasing their relevant experience and qualifications for the job.

The Art of Resume Screening

Initial Impressions Matter

When you receive a resume, start by evaluating its format, layout, and overall appearance. A professionally presented resume reflects attention to detail and suggests the candidates' level of professionalism. Look for consistency in font, margins, and headings.

It's also essential to consider the design elements of the resume, such as the use of white space and visual hierarchy. A well-organized resume with clear sections and bullet points can make it easier for recruiters to quickly scan and assess a candidate's qualifications. Additionally, a visually appealing resume can capture the recruiter's attention and leave a lasting impression.

Furthermore, pay attention to the quality of language used in the resume. Candidates who can effectively communicate their experience and qualifications through clear and concise wording demonstrate strong communication skills, a crucial asset for many positions.

Identifying Red Flags

As you review resumes, keep an eye out for any red flags that may indicate potential issues with a candidate. These can include unexplained gaps in employment, frequent job-hopping, or inconsistencies between the resume and the candidate's LinkedIn profile. Red flags may not necessarily disqualify a candidate, but they should be approached with caution and further investigation.

Another red flag to watch out for is a lack of quantifiable achievements or results in the candidate's work experience. Resumes that only list job responsibilities without showcasing tangible outcomes may indicate a lack of impact or contribution in previous roles. It's essential to look for candidates who can demonstrate their value through specific examples of accomplishments and successes in their professional history.

Evaluating Resume Content

Assessing Job Experience

One of the most critical aspects of resume review is assessing a candidate's job experience. Pay attention to the relevance, duration, and progression of their previous roles. Look for specific achievements and responsibilities that align with the requirements of the position you are hiring for. Consider both the depth and breadth of their experience to ensure they are a strong fit for your company.

When evaluating a candidate's job experience, it's essential to not only focus on the titles they held but also delve into the impact they made in each role. Assess how their contributions influenced the success of projects or teams. Consider the industries they have worked in and how that background could bring a fresh perspective to your organization. Furthermore, look for instances where they demonstrated leadership skills or innovative thinking, showcasing their potential to drive growth within your company.

Evaluating Skills and Qualifications

Skills and qualifications listed on a resume can provide valuable insights into a candidate's suitability for a role. Evaluate these in relation to the job requirements and prioritize the most critical qualifications. Look for evidence of relevant certifications, technical skills, and industry-specific knowledge. Additionally, consider soft skills such as problem-solving abilities, teamwork, and adaptability.

When assessing a candidate's skills and qualifications, go beyond just the list provided and seek examples or projects where these skills were put into action. Consider the level of proficiency they have in each skill and how it aligns with the demands of the role. Look for instances where they have continued to upskill or learn new technologies, indicating a proactive approach to professional development. Furthermore, consider how their unique blend of skills could complement your existing team dynamics and contribute to a collaborative work environment.

The Role of Keywords in Resume Review

Importance of Industry-Specific Keywords

Keywords play a crucial role in resume review, especially when dealing with a large volume of applications. Job-specific keywords are essential as they help filter candidates who possess the desired skills and experience. Look for keywords that directly relate to the position, such as software proficiency, industry terminology, or specialized experience.

When crafting your resume, it is important to conduct thorough research on the industry and job position to identify the most relevant keywords. Tailoring your resume with these specific keywords can significantly increase your chances of passing through the initial screening process. Additionally, consider incorporating a mix of both hard skills (technical abilities) and soft skills (personal attributes) to present a well-rounded profile to potential employers.

Leveraging Applicant Tracking Systems

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) can significantly streamline the resume review process. These systems automate the screening of resumes by matching keywords and criteria specified by the employer. Familiarize yourself with your company's ATS capabilities to maximize its effectiveness in identifying qualified candidates.

Understanding how ATS works can give you a competitive edge in the job application process. To ensure your resume gets past the ATS, avoid using images, charts, or fancy formatting that may confuse the system. Instead, stick to a clean and organized layout with clear headings and bullet points to enhance readability. By strategically placing relevant keywords throughout your resume and tailoring your content to match the job description, you can increase your chances of getting noticed by hiring managers.

Making the Final Decision

Comparing Candidates

As you narrow down your candidate pool, it's crucial to compare resumes side by side. Look for candidates who possess the required skills and experience, but also consider their potential for growth within your company. Carefully weigh the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate to determine the best fit.

When comparing candidates, it's essential to go beyond just the qualifications listed on their resumes. Consider reaching out to their references to gain a deeper understanding of their work ethic, communication skills, and overall performance. Additionally, conducting behavioral interviews can provide valuable insights into how candidates handle various situations and challenges, giving you a more holistic view of their capabilities.

Trusting Your Gut Feeling

While data-driven evaluations are essential, it's also important to trust your intuition. After all, you are looking for not only the most qualified candidate but also someone who will thrive within your company culture. Consider factors such as personal values, ambition, and passion. Sometimes, a gut feeling can be a powerful indicator of a candidate's potential success.

Remember that hiring decisions are not solely based on technical skills and experience; cultural fit and alignment with your company's values are equally important. A candidate who aligns with your organization's mission and vision is more likely to contribute positively to your team and drive long-term success.

Reviewing resumes is a vital step in finding the right talent for your company. By understanding the basics of resumes, practicing thorough screening techniques, and leveraging technology, you can optimize your resume review process. Remember, a well-executed review process is the first step towards building a successful team!

Ready to elevate your hiring process and discover exceptional candidates for your organization? At JB Hired, we specialize in connecting companies with top-tier talent. Don't navigate the complexities of recruitment alone—book a free consultation with our expert team today via the form below and let us help you find the perfect match for your team's needs. Together, we can ensure your next hire is a resounding success.