10 Crucial Things to Look for in a Resume

10 Crucial Things to Look for in a Resume

The experienced recruiter is skilled at reading, analyzing and quickly searching for pertinent information when reading resumes. But for the small business owner who never reads a resume but now has to hire, the first-time manager who was promoted and now has to build a team or the operations leader now tasked with HR duties sifting through one, let alone a large amount of resumes – is a daunting task.

As founder and owner of East Side Staffing, a New York City, New York-based boutique recruitment firm focused on the permanent placement of Human Resources professionals, Laura Mazzullo, focuses on concise content, grammar and spelling, longevity, experience that matches the job – and experience that is unique – whether it’s in the field one is hiring for or not.

Mazzulllo expands on those below, in her list of five things to look for in a resume:

  1. Concise content: Candidates demonstrating they can briefly articulate their expertise without using too much company-specific jargon or complex terminology is important. “Ideally, one can write their experience on their resume to ensure it reads clearly, articulately and concisely,” says Mazzullo.
  2. Grammar, spelling: While spelling and grammar is important, applicants should take the time to ensure they are spelling the names of important industry-related items – like software, What’s more, make sure they are using consistent verb tenses and have proofread for spelling and grammatical errors.
  3. Longevity: Look for 2+ years or more with each employer – which also depends on the field/industry – but that’s a good measuring stick.

“I know certain fields tolerate more (job hoppers) due to the nature of the business,” says Mazzullo. “But, in general, you want to see they have stayed long enough at each employer to add value, learn new skills and build longevity and loyalty with an employer.”

  1. Experience match: Look for experience that matches what you need, but be open to the level of experience. Many candidates want to stretch/grow into their next role, so don’t hesitate to contact them if even a tad ‘too junior’. Some candidates who may read ‘too senior’ may have just the expertise/knowledge your team needs. So, look for experience but don’t get too bogged down by level.
  2. Don’t overlook outside industry experience: Look for previous industry experience that is interesting to you – every candidate does not have to come from the same industry as what you are hiring for. Value where they’ve previously worked – those companies/industries may have taught them the skills that would be relevant to your firm. If the skills are there, be open to industry.

Vicky Oliver is the author of five career development books, including 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions (Sourcebooks, 2005), now sold in 14 countries. She has conducted resume writing workshops and revises people’s resumes for the job hunt. Oliver has been on the radio speaking about job-hunting topics over 600 times and is also the author of Power Sales Words: How to Write It, Say It, and Sell It with Sizzle (Sourcebooks, 2006) which teaches the craft of business writing to non-writers.

Oliver offers these 5 things to look for in a resume:

  1. Look for the story: Some resumes do a great job of painting a portrait of a job candidate. Others resemble laundry lists of jobs that don’t hold together cohesively.

“You want an employee who can present himself,” says Oliver “If he can’t present himself well, he is not going to be a good advocate for your company.”

As a manager or small business owner, it’s not your job to untangle the resume to find the story. The story should be there clearly for you, says Oliver.

  1. Focus on skills: A job is a job, but what has the candidate learned? What will he or she bring forward to your company? More important than titles, more important than the names of the companies where the candidate worked in the past are the skills he or she will bring to you. Figure out what skills you need and look for them in the resume.
  2. Notice any red flags: The seemingly benign line at the end of a resume that says, “References available upon request” is code for the fact that the candidate has probably been laid off or let go at some point during his career. This is not necessarily a bad thing; but it’s something to be aware of. Someone who has never lost his job would not include this line on his resume.
  3. Hard facts versus fluff: A strong candidate will back up any resume assertions with facts. “Increased sales by 200% during FY 14.” “Increased productivity by 25%, meriting an internal award for excellence.” “Closed $2M of sales within first six months.” Statements like these are facts. Statements about “teamwork, being a ‘people’ person, and ‘leadership skills,’ unless bolstered by facts, are fluff.
  4. Readability: Does the resume invite you to meet the candidate? If so, invite him or her for an in-person appointment. If not, think about why not. Is it two pages of fluff? Is the resume filled with meaningless acronyms? Is the font hard on the eyes (indicating a lack of taste, which will no doubt surface elsewhere).

“If you don’t want to read someone’s resume, trust your gut and toss the resume in the trash,” says Oliver.

There you have it, 10 things to look for in a resume. You’re now ready to review and analyze that long list of resumes.

Good luck.

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Matt Krumrie is a career columnist and professional resume writer who has been providing helpful information and resources for job seekers and employers for 15+ years. Learn more about Krumrie via resumesbymatt.com, connect with him on LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/mattkrumrie/) and follow him on Twitter via @MattKrumrie.

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