Resume reading can be the difference between hiring a great person and perhaps missing a true gem. Unfortunately this is a skill that most people have never developed.
Here is an interesting statistic to prove that point.
In researching this article, I used Google’s keyword tool to see how many times people were searching for specific terms. The term “how to write a resume” was searched 148,200 times per month. The term “how to read a resume” was searched on exactly 0 times.
This proves the point that everyone believes they know how to read a resume. The problem is that history has shown that more mistakes are made at the resume reading stage than the rest of the process combined. Let me explain.
When you are reading a resume, you have the least amount data at any point in the entire hiring process. And, you are about to make an irreversible decision. Once a person is placed in the “no” file, they are removed from the process. Very seldom are people in the “no” pile brought back into the process.
Making an irreversible decision with the least amount of data leads to mistakes.
Have A Plan
The first step in resume reading is to identify a focus. The focus needs to be a subset of the list of critical requirements. Review the profile and pick those requirements that should be evident on a resume. Certain skills and experiences will be more evident than others.
Computer skills, selling skills and certain technical skills are easy to view. On the other hand initiative, work ethic and team player are examples of critical requirements that are much more difficult to pick up from a resume. The goal is to get the information that is readily available.
So begin by choosing the list of requirements you want to screen from your complete list of critical job requirements. With this short list in hand, you can review the resume with planned focus.
Read In Correct Chronological Order
Most resumes are written in reverse chronological order. They begin with the most recent experience and go backwards. As a result you need to read resumes back to front so you can follow the person through their career. This is the only way to pick up trends and patterns.
Look for trends of increasing responsibility and accomplishment. Look for progressions. Correct chronological order is the only way to get the information that has the highest probability of choosing the best people.
Look For Similar Accomplishments
You want to hire someone who will deliver results and accomplishments to satisfy your business needs. Look for instances on the resume of the person delivering the same or similar results. If you need someone to sell software, look for examples of the person selling software successfully. If you need someone to solve customer problems, screen for examples of the person solving customer problems.
The more example of results similar to what you need on your job, the better the candidate.
Screen In Not Out
The goal is to hire a person. Don’t start reading a resume with the goal of eliminating the person. This is a frame of mind switch that is necessary. Pick up every resume with goal of finding a way to throw them in.
In conclusion, resume reading is critical to your success in hiring top employees. Have a plan that includes a specific focus. Read in correct chronological order and look for reasons to screen in.