Are You Judging a Resume Correctly?


As the hiring authority for your company, how are you or your overworked HR staff filtering resumes? If you have only 10 or hundreds of resumes, you have some sort of process to filter out candidates. What are your triggers: visual appearance, tailored specifically to your position, number of jobs on resume, gaps in employment, graduation year, etc.? Once someone has passed the first glance inspection, are there other automatic disqualifiers? How about your own personal biases? Many preconceived and unspoken biases could have you overlooking quality and otherwise qualified candidates.

We have seen thousands of resumes and they are not all treated equally. Some resumes are done by artistically gifted and creative individuals that stand out above the rest, while others are just the bare bones details of their work history. We frequently use someone’s resume (provided they meet the minimum qualifications) regardless of presentation, as a timeline to guide my conversations with candidates and to inspire questions. Why did you stay at X Company so long? Why are you interested in making a move now?

While we appreciate a resume that is tailored to a specific opportunity, not everyone does this nor has a complete understanding of the job at hand to do this effectively. As a recruiter, every person that responds to a job post will be given a chance to hear this opportunity in greater detail via a phone call from us (again, provided they meet the minimum qualifications for the position). We do this to lay out the opportunity at hand and at a minimum, allow the candidate to say what inspired them to apply for this position. Individuals will stay at a company because they like the people they work with, despite the fact that the work, pay or benefits are not ideal. While time is money, sometimes just talking with someone can allow you to figure out what key experiences from past work environments could make a person successful in your company that will not appear on a resume.

Gaps in employment can speak as loudly about someone as contiguous experience listed on a resume, but only if you ask the right questions. Candidates we have interviewed explained they stepped down from a high-pressure position for a few years to take care of an ill relative, battle personal medical challenges, or raising a family which will all show certain personality traits that do not appear on a resume, but might add great value to your company. Some demonstrated behaviors speak more loudly to your company’s core values than any words written on a resume. The true individual might be in between the lines at times.

Clients have told me they want a candidate that will be at their company for the next twenty years. Do the math: 65 – 20 = 45 years old or younger. Most individuals will stay at one company just over four years and you would consider yourself lucky if employees stay for ten years or more. An individual that has five to ten years before considering retirement brings a tremendous amount of experience to the table that is intangible and should not be overlooked. This is where persona, bias and wants and wishes can cloud or overlook perfectly acceptable candidates. As for longer tenure, that is up to you and your company’s culture to retain them. After investing thousands of dollars to obtain them, why throw it all away with misguided and nonexistent policies and practices?

Your experiences have given you analogies or rules of thumb that you use to speed up the process of reviewing resumes. While you are saving time in your day to day activities, how many candidates have you passed over because there was one thing on their resume that you didn’t like? In today’s tight labor market, getting creative with your hiring practices to identify individuals that can be successful at your company will be crucial. Could one conversation make a huge difference? Shortcuts may save time, but do not necessarily help in the bigger picture. You can always hurry through a process, but you can never skip steps in a process. If you skip steps, it usually has a way of coming back to bite you later. If you take care in the beginning, the end will take care of itself.

Here at Rauenhorst Recruiting, we put our process to work for you. By marketing to hundreds of candidates for each search, we are able to provide you candidates that are varying degrees of matches to your job requirements and your company culture. Let us do what we do best, while you continue doing what you do best. Give us a call today to start partnering with a retained recruiter.


About Rauenhorst Recruiting

In today’s business climate, Rauenhorst Recruiting consistently demonstrates its proprietary retained search process results in strategic hires that drive revenue and propel real, profitable business growth. Rauenhorst Recruiting has a long history of building teams for many top firms in Minnesota and the United States.

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