The Two Things to Look For in Winning Resumes

Resume Is TruthThe job of winning resumes is to present a candidate’s achievements and relevance for a particular  job in the most effective manner. Even though as an employers you will be gathering information form many other sources – particularly social media – that document with RESUME on the top is still the basic building block in the formation of your opinion about the applicant.

Having a stack of these in your inbox is daunting but you can simplify the first triage by looking for two things.  If you see them, push them to the next round.

First, recognize the key challenges presented by the resume process.

Challenge #1.  The hiring committee or manager faces hundreds of resumes in the course of his or her work.  A smart candidate (the kind you want) will recognize this and make a deliberate effort to get and hold your attention.

Challenge #2.  A Workforce survey a few years ago came up with a staggering statistics that 78% of resumes are misleading and that 53% contained outright false information.  This can invalidate any other claims made in the resume

So, the two core components you need to see to keep a resume off the floor? Creativity and honesty.

The first creates a bigger burden for the candidate. He or she doesn’t have to send the guy with the balloons, but you are looking for an effort to be original, to get your attention.  One candidate achieved notoriety with this line:

Held multiple sales positions doing more or less the same thing at incrementally larger rates of pay”

A light touch seldom fails to put a smile on the face of the reviewer and the authoring candidate has achieved the first goal. You are most likely to pass this one to the next round.

Creativity is a plus when it impresses you and moves an interesting candidate into a preferred pile. You would not describe honesty as a plus. If you find any reason to doubt it, that is as far as you need to go.

Most, if not all, employers conduct thorough reference and background checks, making it strange to think that so many people try to cut corners. It is only smart to play it straight and that means not even little cheats.

For example, a common corner that gets rounded is education. If a candidate studied for a degree but did not complete it, he is often tempted to leave the impression that he did.   It will come out in the background check and even a little cheat like that will sour your opinion of the applicant.

How you approach a resume may have a lot to do with the level of the job you are trying to fill. A production-level job may be easier to scam because most of these jobs are filled by recruiting software or by contingency recruiters.

A contingency recruitment only requires firms to submit resumes to the hiring company and, since it is competitive, becomes a numbers game – the more resumes submitted to you, the better your chance one of them will stick. The burden of assessment is on you and by implication,  your background verification may be less rigorous.

You are going to have a greater sense of involvement if you are seeking to fill a higher level position, particularly when you get to the manager and executive level.  You are more likely to have engaged a retained search firm which will work on an exclusive basis to find the best candidate, will have concluded a rigorous scrutiny of the top applicants and will make accompanying recommendations.

One CEO famously found out the hard way when the background check turned up a wife and two kids in California and another wife and two kids in Connecticut .

Lying on a resume can be grounds for dismissal should you find out after the applicant has been hired.  You can avoid the duststorm and the toll in time and effort by being scrupulous in your review with regard to honesty and striking out the cheaters.

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