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Gone in Thirty Seconds: How to Review a Resume

How to Review the Actual Job Applicant Resumes

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Resume and cover letter

Follow These Steps to Effectively Review Resumes

Pali Rao / iStockphoto

The preparation for resume review described earlier in this article enables you to get down to the serious job of applicant resume review quickly.

Set aside a block of time whenever possible. Part of resume screening is comparing one candidate’s qualifications and credentials to those listed in the other resumes you have received. Additionally, in this day of electronic applications, resume screening has taken on several new dimensions.

Some of the traditional devices used to screen resumes no longer bear the weight they once did. These include the quality of the stationery, the design of the actual document, and the envelope in which the documents arrived. Still viable for mailed-in resumes, these are useless for electronic applications, especially applications from job boards that tend to lose their formatting.

Other resume screening techniques never go out of style, including the search for proper spelling and grammar. Your quick, first skim of the resume should yield an overall impression of your candidate's carefulness and attention to detail.

Potential employees, who make careless mistakes in application materials such as resumes, do not warrant the attention that a more careful candidate deserves. Assuming the candidate's resume passes an initial inspection, this is my recommended process for reviewing resumes.

Steps in Resume Review

  • Read the customized cover letter. Look especially for a flawless presentation, correct spelling and grammar, and the applicant’s attention to detail. What – there is no cover letter? This is the downside of electronic resume spamming. Receiving countless, usually unqualified, applicant resumes, occurs following every job posting. The tip off? Usually, unqualified applicants fail to write a cover letter. Choose, or choose not, to continue your resume review at this point.

  • Scan the resume to obtain an overall impression of the applicant. Look especially for a flawless presentation, correct spelling and grammar, and their attention to detail. Paper resumes must pass the “feel” test.

  • In the first skim, look for the easy-to-find qualifications. (As an example, if you are requiring a college degree, does the applicant have one?) If not, reject the resume or place it in your “maybe” meets qualifications pile or electronic folder.

  • Read the description of what the candidate says they are looking for in their next job. Is the statement customized to your job or does it describe any job in the world? As an example, I generally reject resumes that make statements such as, “I seek a challenging opportunity to utilize my skills with a progressive employer who will provide opportunities for growth." Honestly, you’ve got to do better than to offer this type of generality to pass the resume screen.

  • Look for a summary statement of qualifications and experience. If the candidate has taken the time and customized their summary for your job, this enables you to quickly find the characteristics you seek from your role profile. These resumes quickly hit the “further review” pile. Applicants also need to recognize that more and more larger organizations are scanning resumes into data bases. When a job becomes available, resumes are scanned for relevant keywords. Make the keywords easy to find.

  • Review the most recent employers and the applicant’s stated experience, accomplishments, and contributions. At this point, you must have found significant cross-over between the applicant’s resume and your requirements. Place the resume in your “to be reviewed further” folder unless you have encountered problems. Red flags at this point in your resume review, that are unexplained on the resume or in the cover letter, include:

    --employment gaps,
    --evidence of decreasing responsibility,
    -- evidence of a career that has reached a plateau or gone backwards,
    --short term employment at several jobs, and
    --multiple shifts in career path.

  • Review your selected resumes against your criteria and each other.

  • Telephone screen the seemingly qualified candidates. Schedule interviews with the candidates who pass your initial screen.

The more you review resumes, the better your resume review will become. With practice, your resume review may be called gone in twenty seconds, or even, gone in ten seconds, while your resume review continues to yield great candidates. Want to see a sample solid resume? Take a look at Why This Resume Rocks.

Want to know what preparation makes resume review a cinch?

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