During the hiring process, a business owner may be faced with reading dozens, if not hundreds, of résumés for a single job opening. Here are some hints to help the process move smoothly and efficiently.

Know Who You’re Looking for

Before you begin your résumé review, develop a picture of the ideal candidate with a detailed job description. Are you looking for a recent graduate you can train, or an experienced professional who can deliver right out of the gate?  What are the job requirements? What are the top priorities of candidates? What skills does the company need?

Don’t Use Résumés to Eliminate Prospects

Your objective is to find the best person for the job. Don’t use résumés as tools to eliminate candidates; instead, use résumés as tools to keep candidates in the “possibles” pile. Placing a candidate in the NO pile without learning more about the individual may mean you hire less than the best.

Résumés are intended to separate those who don’t fit the job qualifications from those who are worthy of a more detailed review.  Review each résumé with inclusion in mind. After your initial review of résumés, your “possible candidates” pile should be larger than the pile of applicants who don’t fit your needs. Gradually whittle down the possibles until you have a manageable list of candidates worthy of an interview.

What to Look for in a Résumé

You can’t always rely on a résumé to point you to the best candidate, but a résumé and cover letter can simplify sorting possible hires from those who don’t fit the job needs – at least on paper.

Résumé Positives

  • High-quality stationery with a complete, professional letterhead
  • A short, but detailed, cover letter that fleshes out the résumé facts
  • A customized reply that addresses your company’s specific hiring needs, not a standard form letter that deals in generalities
  • A steady increase in job responsibilities and promotions, i.e., professional growth
  • Understandable workplace achievements with specific numbers to back up the achievement
  • Clearly stated career goals that sync up with the current job opening
  • A complete employment package that includes a résumé, cover letter, certifications, licenses and accreditations, written references from previous employers, and a college transcript for workers just graduating into the job market

Résumé Negatives

  • Incomplete information, i.e., no copy of a required license
  • Cluttered or unprofessional presentation
  • Applicants with long gaps in employment history
  • Applicants who’ve held numerous jobs in a short time, also known as “job hoppers”
  • More personal information than you need
  • Negative comments about previous employers, your company’s competitors, or individuals with whom the candidate has worked
  • Errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, format inconsistencies – little things mean a lot when scanning dozens of résumés.

Look for a Pattern of Professional Growth

The résumé job history is usually in chronological order from most current to positions held 15 years ago.

Review the employment history backward, from first job to the most recent position to determine if this candidate shows professional growth or has made several lateral moves in a career.

Compare Professional Achievements with Your Job Description

Look for indicators that a candidate has met the business needs you’re hiring to fulfill. Industry awards, publications in professional journals, and other obvious clues indicate a professional who achieves company objectives, and someone worth interviewing.