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Resume Review Basics

Anne Sandberg

Information to review in a resume:

Professional appearance – does the overall resume look professional, is it neatly done, are there spelling or grammatical errors? Appearance is just a quick look at good organisation and attention to detail, however, many applicants use professional firms to help them write a lay-out their resume, so know that it may not be a reflection on the applicant him or herself.

Educational background -- While an applicant's educational background is important, it may not be the best barometer for their actual skills. Take, for example, someone with a degree in English. Does that tell you anything about their skills? Probably not. Other degrees can also be misleading. Perhaps the applicant got a Bachelor's Degree in Industrial Relations, but then went into real estate sales. If you're hiring a sales rep then that next step, which probably shows up in the work experience section, is what you really should be interested in. Typically, a quick glance at education to ensure that any required formal education is there is all you need to do. Again, the depth of your review into their education depends a lot on the type of position you're hiring for.

Past work experience is most important, so look for information about:
* actual responsibilities, as opposed to what is implied by their title. (Does it fit that they were the Manager of Sales, but had no sales responsibilities themselves?)
* the person’s job duties, as opposed to what they state they were responsible for. (are these consistent with each other? Perhaps they supervised the person who performed the function, but haven't had the experience of doing it themselves. For example, someone may manage a print shop without having ever run a printing press before.)
* specific accomplishments, as goals met or exceeded, awards won, or special projects led.
* length of time they held positions or titles. (Were they in a position long enough to have the experience under their belt that you need? Why did they leave that position?)
* progression of their work experience. (Does their experience show increasing levels of skill and/or responsibility? Is there significant backtracking? Or, is there no real change in the level of the responsibility or job duties? This may indicate a lack of ambition or desire to achieve.)
* unexplained gaps in the work history.

The cover letter is also a good barometer from which to gauge the person who wrote it. Does it address aspects about the position you are filling, as well as your organisation? Or, does it appear to be a standard letter template they used to drop in company names and job titles, of which yours is simply one of 75? This lack of customisation may show a lack of true interest in the position you are filling. If the applicant doesn't even take the time to research your company, they may not take the time to cover details in the job at hand. Look for statements that show sincere interest, signs of research and knowledge about your organization and the position, as well as good grammar and communication skills.



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