Top Ten Tips: How to Read a Résumé

Are job seekers better prepared than hiring managers when it comes to understanding the ways to utilize a résumé to market themselves? Google all of the resources that can help you write the perfect résumé and you’ll find over 1 million of them! Now search all of the websites that will help you READ a résumé and you’ll find less than half! The question is: will you be equally prepared to separate contenders from pretenders when you read their résumés? Following are ten best practices associated with the critical skill of reading a résumé:
  • 1. Look for measurable achievements. Look at what the candidate says about his/her accomplishments. Instead of “greatly increased sales” look for statements that both quantify and can be validated, such as “increased sales by 52%”.
  • 2. Does the résumé mirror the ideal candidate? If you’re looking for a graphics-oriented advertising person, does the résumé reflect a creative and imaginative approach? Need a detail-oriented accounting person? Look for a résumé that presents all the facts clearly and logically.
  • 3. Be cautious of the functional résumé. These usually have no dates, only descriptions and experiences. They may mask excessive job-hopping, gaps in employment, and progression (or lack of) in positions.
  • 4. Mediocre candidates do not always have mediocre résumés. A mediocre candidate may have a tremendous résumé, thanks to résumé services and resources to create the ‘killer résumé.’
  • 5. Look for profit-mindedness and customer service. How well does the candidate understand that businesses survive when both its customers and its bottom line are looked after? Have the candidate’s contributions led to efficiencies and customer retention?
  • 6. Beware of puffery! Many résumés contain qualifiers like “knowledge of…”, “assisted with…”, “had exposure to…” which should not be confused with hands-on experience.
  • 7. Watch out for résumés filled with trivia to make them look more substantial. Do not be misled by lengthy educational credentials. The candidate may have listed meaningless seminars and cited every course they ever attended to fill out their résumé. Question: what parts of their education are relevant to you?
  • 8. Do not excuse sloppiness. Poor grammar and misspellings are a tip-off that the candidate may be sloppy in their work habits. Conversely, a perfect résumé does not necessarily indicate that the candidate is detail oriented.
  • 9. Look for evidence that shows a desire to work. How much of the candidate’s education did they pay for? How busy were they? Are they achievement oriented? Are they a solo performer or were they part of a team?
  • 10. Do not assume! The words on a résumé may create an image in your mind based on your own experiences but do not necessarily reflect what has actually happened in the life of a candidate. “Promoted to Office Manager” may be very significant, or may mean that the title was given to the person who started the coffee in the morning. You’ll need to dig into the details during the interview!


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