Top tips when screening resumes

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Building Recruitment managing director Kevin Everett

Building Recruitment managing director Kevin Everett says many resumes are poorly written. He outlines a few things to look out for when checking the details of a prospective employee. 

Many of our clients ask us about how to identify positives and negatives when reading resumes.

This is a great question as most resumes are very poorly written. Here are some tips that we hope will help you.

Continuity of dates

We see this a lot where people put:
ABC Contracting 2016 – 2017.

The months are not specified, so it is hard to tell exactly how long they worked there.

How long would you assume? How many of you thought one year? Quite a few, I guess. How many thought two months — December 2016 to January 2017 — or 23 months, from January 2016 to December 2017?

Make sure you investigate thoroughly as people can use this to hide gaps in their resume for various reasons. We have found people have been in prison or home detention, or had a couple of very unsuccessful jobs they tried to hide.

Some employers have rejected applicants because they felt two months was too short when, in fact, the applicant could have been at ABC Contracting for two years.

Job title v Duties:

This is another area of concern. We have found candidates have exaggerated their position or duties to help themselves either increase salary or gain the promotion they have been trying for.

Looking at this section, you must focus on open questions during the interview — when, what, how and why. Allow them to talk while you listen.

If you have concerns, ask them to explain in more detail. You will soon find out who is exaggerating their experience and those who know their stuff.

Attention to detail 

We see many applicants with mistakes in their resume. This demonstrates they are not showing attention to detail. This includes incorrect wording, spelling, grammar or poor formatting.

If you require attention to detail in the position you are interviewing for, then this should give you some cause for concern.

In my opinion, if this person has the skills and experience you are looking for, you need to focus on these issues during the interview. If they are prepared to present this in their resume, what will they be like in your business?

Only progress if you have satisfied your concerns and you have set clear expectations when they start.

Achievements

I love achievements. This is my favourite part of the resume. This sets people apart.

Consider this — you are looking for a project manager or a carpenter. In most cases their duties would be very similar, if not identical.

Look at the applicant’s achievements, if they have them. Are they specific or vague?

Example of a vague achievement: “Project-managed five projects at once”. Sounds good, but did they perform well? It’s hard to tell.

A better example would include measurables: “Project-managed five projects at once, resulting in all projects coming in on time, no injuries, and within budget.

Sounds awesome doesn’t it? But very few people add achievements to their resumes. When any candidate comes through Building Recruitment these achievements will always be included.

If there are no achievements, then this is another great area to focus on during the interview. Ask what their achievements were during their time at their employer.

Dig deep and ask for explanations. Again, use open questions — when, what, how and why.

Now that you have this information, use it during the reference checks. Ask the referee what they believe they brought to the business, and ask about the validity of the achievements.

If they match, then you are usually on to a winner. If not, then you have completed your interview process well and found issues before you hire.

Interests

Showing their interests helps you know if they will fit into your culture. If they like reading, going for long walks with their dog or stay at home doing jigsaws, and your company has a social culture, you know this isn’t going to be a match, and vice-versa.

If they share similar interests to others in the team then you know you have a greater chance of a cultural match.