How to Assess a Resume

You get hundreds of resumes a day. Your eyes tear up at having to shuffle through those endless piles. Yet you need to hire a rockstar. NOW. What do you do?

If you’ve ever been in this position, you’ve inevitably developed shortcuts to cut through the “crap.” That’s good because it optimizes your time. That’s bad because you may throw away some rockstars.

Here are some tips that can help you minimize the crap and lost rockstars. (And for job seekers, this can be a helpful peek into the mind of a hiring manager.)

In order of importance:

  1. Check personal website & portfolio (for web/design/writing industries)
    • This can give a fairly good view of the candidate’s personality, skill set, and/or style. It’s not always current, but is the best indicator of demonstrated skill you have so far. (For the web industry, a personal site also shows an interest in web design and/or development.)
    • What kind of demonstrated technologies, skills, & style does the candidate have?
    • What is the candidate trying to communicate with site? Is it a personal site? A hobby site? A professional/freelance site?
    • Any demonstrations of innovation or originality?

  2. Check job progression
    • This can give an overall view of the candidate’s actual experience. It’s more accurate than other items on resume.
    • What kinds of roles has this person held?
    • Is this candidate on a management track or individual contributor track?
    • How long was the candidate at each job?
    • Did the candidate ever relocate?
    • Are the past duties relevant to the open position?

  3. Check education
    • This can give a very general idea of the candidate’s abilities, though it’s not always an accurate measure.
    • What kind of degree(s) does the candidate have?
    • What university did the candidate attend?
    • When did the candidate graduate?

  4. Check skills
    • This only gives a very general view and is hardly ever accurate. Most candidates inflate their list of skills.
    • Does candidate list the basic skills we’re looking for?
    • How many years has the candidate been using this skill?

  5. Check interests/hobbies/extracurricular activities
    • This only gives a very general view and most don’t even list it. It can provides additional info on candidate’s personality.
    • Are there any matching interests to the open role?
    • Are there any artistic/creative or problem-solving/puzzle interests?
    • Are there a wide range of interests & activities?

  6. Check current location
    • This can tell you whether or not it will take longer to interview and hire this candidate, especially if candidate is out-of-state. It’s is mostly useful as additional administrative info.
    • Does this candidate require relocation?
    • Do phone screens have to be made with consideration to time zones?

While this may seem like quite a few steps, after a few resumes, you’ll hopefully get into a regular rhythm. Sometimes, I’ll add a small low-med-high rating next to each item. For candidates that score low on the first two items, I’ll immediately move on to the next resume.

For job seekers, this may sound harsh, but that’s the reality of a hiring manager’s job. The better you’re able to structure your resume, the easier you’ll make it on a hiring manager – which will also increase your chances if you truly are a fit for the role.