Ask 10 Professionals in Human Resources, and 10 Hiring Authorities…and you’ll probably get 20 different answers! So, what DO the top HR and Hiring Authorities look for? At least, what do MOST look for in common?:
1) The basics…spelling, punctuation and grammar. Beyond the obvious it shows attention to detail and a good attitude about their search.
2) Is the person attentive enough to tailor a cover letter to the opening?
It shows care, interest, and ‘street smarts’.
3) Does the SUM TOTAL of experience, education, skills “look” as though the person MAY have enough to warrant a meeting, or at least a phone conversation. This is THE single most important point that separates most ‘paper-pushers’ and those who are serious about finding talent. “Paper-pushers” look for ‘paper to paper’ (job description/resume)
matches…TALENT-FINDERS look beyond and between the words…then TALK to those people, trying to discover what really is represented behind the resume (the person).
Great hires can be missed because a person doing the initial ‘screening’ of resumes only does a ‘paper to paper’ match. A word of caution (this comes from an old friend who is now Director of HR and Labor Relations for a Fortune 100 firm): “DON’T delegate the initial pre screening of resumes to a non-operating person” (like the lowest level HR person, or an inexperienced assistant). Do it yourself. Who better to decide which pile to put them in?
Yes resumes take time to read, but sometimes they can be more amusing than most TV shows! Think of it this way…what skills do YOU have that you can’t possibly put in the confines of a resume? Doesn’t your personality, demeanor, and ability to communicate separate you from others? How about your ability to learn? How about your “intangibles”? Would you think that only 30% of all people write their own resumes?
Screening takes time. But what can an excellent employee do for you and your company?
Here are some general comments about reading resumes or applications:
1) Whatever you see is NOT accurate. The person is either more or less than what appears.
2) MOST people who write resumes have read or taken BAD advice on how to do that. They typically have attempted to do the best they can, but have not succeeded. Neither have you when you wrote or had written your resume. So DON’T play the “editorial game”, and you are not the gift to reading between the lines either. Don’t play a deity. Pick up the phone and do a Q&A with the person if they SEEM to have most/ some/ all of what MIGHT be ballpark for you. That’s what you get paid for isn’t it? Make a judgment. Make it based on your Q&A, not words on a paper. If you are afraid to make the phone call, get another job or let someone else be boss for the day.
3) Know what you are looking for. The perfect candidate though, does not exist. So know what you can live with and without (see the article on “Before You Interview”)
4) Do NOT be afraid to make Yes/ No/ and MAYBE piles. Play the shuffle game between them as more resumes come to you. But…put a time limit on the game. Make a decision.
5) CALL or RESPOND to people, even if you need to say “NO!”. The NUMBER ONE COMPLAINT of job seekers is lack of response to their resume or application. Have some class. How did you feel? You never know who that person knows or can influence, or who they will refer to you if they are or are not hired. Could be your next superstar.
6) TAKE NOTES (on the back of the resume or on another sheet of paper). Your memory isn’t all that good to remember all the good or not so good things about even 3 people.
7) Use the information you get from the ‘pre-screen’ to prepare you for the in-person interview.
Last: people get hired and do great or poor jobs, not resumes. Resumes are only TOOLS to do a prescreening interview. They are NOT fact sheets nor are they meant to answer questions. Just try it…go ahead, ask a question of the resume. Get any answers?