9 HR Tips for Picking a Resumé

31 January, 2019

10 mins read

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What's the difference between a resumé and a CV

5 things no resumé should have:

  • Basic spelling and grammar mistakes.
  • False information (although this may be hard to tell).
  • Too much irrelevant text.
  • Salary information from past roles.

199 resumés on the pile, 199 resumés on the pile. You skim one down, you pass it around. Oh…there’s now 300 resumes on the pile.

Sorting through resumé after resumé is one of the most time consuming, yet crucial parts of the recruitment process. The number of applications you receive can range anywhere from a few to hundreds, depending on the role. However many you receive, you have to sort through each and every one to determine who to take to the next round.

As a human resources consultant, I spend a lot of time on recruitment, including sifting through resumés. Here are just a few ways I can cut down time for those inbox-flooding roles, which may help you with your own recruitment process. These tips will also be useful to job seekers to help you progress through to the interview stage.

1) Create a List of Non-Negotiables

In almost any role, there will be skills or experience you want your applicant to possess. Knowing what you won’t compromise on will help you quickly create a shortlist for even the tallest pile of applications.

However, make sure your non-negotiables don’t end up short-changing your business. If a qualification or certification isn’t legally required, consider softening your rule for people with a certain level of experience with evidence. Asking for a portfolio in your next round will help you determine who is walking the walk, or just talking it.

Tips for choosing a resumé

2) See Who Follows Instructions

If you’re not thorough while applying for a job, when will you be?

While you’re creating your job ad listing, set some requirements for applicants. This could mean adding specific portfolio documents, including a certain number of references, or even having them add their favourite quote to their cover letter. Seeing who identifies the instruction and follows through will show you who has thorough attention to detail.

3) Resumé Style Can Reveal More Than You Think

A well laid out resumé shows you the person can use document design and development programs and their level of creativity. Either that or they’re good at delegating to a resumé creator.

Someone with an easy-to-navigate resumé, who is clear and concise will bring that to their role. They understand how to prioritise information and deliver what they need to say. On the other hand, someone who has a long-winded application may carry some undesirable traits for being precise and thorough.

4) Assess Wafflers at a Later Date

Don’t waste your time reading everything on a resumé the first time you see it. First, shortlist the applicants who meet your criteria. Next, create a maybe list for lengthier applications if you skim something that may make them relevant. Lengthy resumés can either indicate comprehensive skills, education and job history or be a red flag (see Tip 6 below).

5) Watch Out for Generic Resumés

You want people who care about your business, or at least the industry you’re in. An applicant should, at the very minimum, be matching their experience with your job ad. Now, if someone ticks all the boxes, this shouldn’t be the deciding factor. However, it’s something to consider if you’re looking at someone with design skills, or even document-creation experience.

Tips for selecting a resumé

6) Keywords are Key

You want to spend as little time as possible reviewing each resumé. If the job seeker has followed best practice, they’ll have used your ad to alter their application. While you’re skimming, keep an eye out for keywords you used in your application, such as relevant experience you want them to have. This will help you narrow down your results faster.

7) Ensure Their Goals Align with Yours

Most applicants will include some sort of professional goal in their resumé or cover letter. While it’s all good and well for them to have dreams, it’s important for them to align with your own goals.

As we mentioned in our article, The Key to Amazing Organisational Culture, retention is important for morale and your budget. If someone has plans to move onto the next best thing when it arises, they’re not planning on staying. Any mentions of progression may be a sign of this. Of course, if you promote internally for people with skill, this may be perfect for you.

8) Seek Measurable Accomplishments

Someone can preach how amazing they are at xyz skill, but if they can’t back it up, it’s just words on paper. When you’re browsing through resumés, look for actual results. It should be clear if they managed a team, how many people were under their wing. If they mention improving performance for something, by how much did they do so? Then, you can confirm with their referees when you make the rounds.

9) Industry Lingo

Now, this last tip won’t be relevant to every role, however it will be to some. You should expect someone who is touting experience to be using words related to the work they do. However, where you need to be careful is someone who has done their research online but doesn’t actually understand what they’re saying. This will become clear when you converse during their interview if they can walk the walk, as well as talk it.

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