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How to Read a Resume

How to Read a Resume

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Published by: Geetha Srinivas Pasupulati on Jun 22, 2009
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07/10/2012

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How to Read a Resume
Often the first step in the hiring process is wading through a huge stack of resumes inorder to decide who you want to interview. Keep in mind that a resume is only onesmall part of the individual that you are hiring. You can make the wrong decision if youdon’t properly evaluate the person represented. It is very often said that goodcandidates can write bad resumes, and bad candidates can write great resumes. For onething, bad candidates often have more experience at preparing resumes.Still if you know what to look for, the resume can quickly provide you the informationto accurately narrow your search. Here are some tips on what to look for:1. Start at the end! You will normally find the information the candidate least wantsyou to know towards the end of the resume. Probably their weakest point. If thereis a glaring weakness here it can save time reading the full resume.2. Develop a checklist from your job description. This list should include companysize, industry, computer software, number supervised, technical skill, andprofessional certification needed to do the job. Highlight on the resume thequalifications present and list those absent.3. Look at the dates of employment. You can find out many things from these dates.Look for gaps that might indicate short-term employment left off the resume. Orworse, non complimentary time away from the career. Dates that give years onlyinstead of year and month can cover up a gap of several months. If it is a functionalresume (no dates) be very careful, they are typically used by candidates with lessthan impressive stability.4. Look for accomplishments. A resume that lists contributions instead of justdescribing a position can give you insight regarding the candidate’s concern for thebottom line. Look for indications of being a team player, understanding theimportance of the company’s goals, the willingness to work hard and concern forprofitability.5. Look at how it is said, not only at what is said. Words like “knowledge of” or“familiarity with” or “education on,” usually are a cover-up for light experience. Besensitive to errors or sloppiness. They can be indications of the person presentingthe resume and how conscientious they will be at work. Be cautious, if the resume isprofessionally prepared it can be completely misleading. Professionally preparedresumes not only are grammatically correct, but usually contain canned phrases thatsound nice but mean little.6. Look for what isn’t said. If a particular job normally includes a specific skill andthis skill is left our on a candidate’s resume it may be an indication of experience thatis too light.
 
7. Don’t overlook the objective. A candidate technically qualified for a job but withdesires that don’t fit the position or your company will be just as bad a hire as onewithout the technical qualifications.8. Personal items should show an interest outside work, preferably civic activities. Besensitive if too much emphasis is put on outside sports, travel, and hobbies, etc. Thecandidate may be telling you that they do not have any time left for work, or at least,work is not a high priority.9. Review rejected resumes. After you have made your first pass, go back and reviewagain. If any of these were rejected based on poor format or missing information,you may find out that a phone call is all that is need to fill in information that willuncover an excellent candidate.Remember that a resume is only part of the information available to evaluate a potentialemployee. It is intended to show only the positive about a person. In fact, it is oftensaid “a resume is like a balance sheet with no liabilities.” We hope these tips will helpyou get the maximum out of your time evaluating resumes.Always be organized. You must be very clear and quite specific as to what you or thecompany wants before you can search for it.Make a list of key skills for the position. Include intangibles such as goodcommunications, ability to work long hours or weekends, as well as the hard-facts suchas technical skill set, training or education. Time spent organizing key elements will berichly returned during the entire hiring process.If you do not have such a well-thought through list you will waste time wanderingthrough cover letters and resumes and be inconsistent in your evaluation. Do notfantasize that you have it "in your head" and do not need a list. That is your ego talkingand it is giving you bad advice. Put that thought aside and do the work to make apractical and useful list.Seek guidance about employment law. Check with the HR department if there is one, orsomeone in authority within the company. If there is no guidance, get on the Web andpro-actively make yourself aware of the law.Read each cover letter and resume and check for evidence of the needed skills. Is thematerial well-organized, well-written, and business-focused? Look to the cover letter forpointers. Has care been taken to write a cover letter that is relevant to the position youneed to fill? Candidates who do some of the work for you by highlighting what isrelevant to your job have very good, and very valuable skills.Circle the positive information to make it easier to find on your subsequent review.However, beware of making a choice on the strength of skills alone. Remember thatskills can be taught, but attitude and commitment are the real drivers to success. Look

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