How Do I Find the Good Ones? – Sifting Through Resumés

by: Ian K. McEwen

You’ve done a great job presenting a new career opportunity at your business – presenting a thorough job description, advertising the position, and networking. Now you are faced with an influx of resumés to evaluate. How do I find the good ones? Who do I invite in for a personal interview? Mistakes can be costly if you hire someone who isn’t right. Remember, the perfect candidate rarely exists, nor are you offering the perfect job. Reviewing resumés is a time consuming process but there are recommended ways to take out the guess work.

Here are some tips to follow in evaluating resumés:

1. The resumé needs to be relevant to the job description and your pre-determined qualifications. Keep your job description front and centre!

Many applicants use the shotgun approach when applying for a job. They will send you a standard resumé which will show you a work history and a chronological order of former employers. And, most resumés contain job descriptions as opposed to specific accomplishments. You don’t need to know what the candidate was responsible for…you need to know their accomplishments. Good resumés are finely tuned to specifically respond to the job opportunity. These are the ones that you will place in the “to be interviewed” pile.

2. Look for the gaps in employment history.

Make sure the time sequences in the employment history add-up. There may be very legitimate reasons for some unexplained holes in one’s work history. A quick phone call is all you might need. Generally, if the rest of the resumé looks good, the candidate won’t be shy at providing a palatable explanation – taking time off to attend to an ailing family member or perhaps taking a shot at some self employment. And, the good resumés list the month and year of employment to take the guess work out of the equation. You should also be looking for a steady work history and particularly one that shows a clear career progression.

3. Has the candidate sent a cover letter?

Cover letters add an element of explanation to tell you why they are qualified for the position. It shows you that the applicant has taken time in reviewing the material you have provided. I would also bet that the candidate who has sent you a good cover letter has checked you out on the internet or has asked people in the industry about your company, its products, and its people. A good cover letter will tell you something about a candidate’s strategic planning and communication skills. If they know how to construct a well written cover letter, they will probably show good judgment in communicating and motivating your staff.

4. Start with a short telephone interview.

Now that you have the “to be interviewed” pile you can accomplish a lot with a short phone call. You don’t want to be caught spending oodles of time having the candidate come in for a face-to-face interview and find out there are problems with, as an example, your compensation package. At Marckis Consultants, we ask all our candidates to complete an on-line questionnaire specific to the job opportunity. Some key initial questions you can ask over the phone are:

  • What is your primary motivation to consider leaving your current employer?
  • What is your specific interest in this opportunity?
  • Why are you an ideal candidate for this opportunity?
  • What are your compensation expectations?

5. Don’t forget the ‘entire’ package.

You want to make sure you are getting the whole enchilada. Take a look to see what the candidate does outside the workplace. Have they participated in continuous education? Are they active in the community? – fundraising, coaching, etc. You want to make sure you are matching the character of the candidate with the culture of your company to get good chemistry.

6. Check references

As we outlined in our last article, reference checking is a key part in the hiring process. Pre-qualify the references that you would like to contact – a former supervisor, a colleague, and a direct report. Ask the candidate to contact the references in advance so you won’t be blind-sided. And, ensure you get the candidate’s written consent to check references.

7. Does the candidate meet the job requirements?

We suggest to our clients that a score sheet is developed to evaluate the resumés. All the candidates are evaluated based on the client’s set of criteria. The spread sheet lists all the key requirements of the job – key functions, years of experience, education, etc. We also recommend that you involve other key members of your management team to evaluate the resumés.

Does it sound like a lot of work? It is! But, if these key steps are followed, the odds at hiring the right person whom you might have otherwise discounted are improved. Then perhaps that special individual will be uncovered.

Call us about your career placement or recruiting needs:
office 905-290-0911 or toll free 1-866-627-2547