What To Look For on a Resume

Interviewer looking at a digital resume

Reviewing resumes is a time-consuming task that can be as boring as it can be stressful.  When you post a job opening, the chances are you are going to be fielding a lot of calls and receive several applications and resumes.  If you utilize a job recruiter website such as Indeed, you might get hundreds of responses to a job listing.


How can you separate the serious candidates from those that are not qualified or might not be a good fit?  You must have a plan.


Over the years, the recruiters at The Essex Companies have become very proficient in reading resumes.  Reading a resume is so much more than the words on the page.  There is a lot of subtext in a resume.  It is a matter of whether you can spot it.


An example of subtext is the phrase “participated in” when discussing a major project that they might have only been a tiny part.  Most people would not be shy about taking credit for accomplishments, even if they were a part of a team as long as they came up with the ideas that led to the success of the project.


A phrase like “participated in” can mean that the candidate was a part of the team but was not a part of the decision-making or other vital aspect of the project.  They might have been in the room but offered little to the overall project.


There are several red flags to look out for when going through a resume.


Look at the job listings, number of jobs, and dates.


There are a few things you can learn just by looking at the list of jobs and dates.  If there are significant gaps in employment, it is something about which you might want to follow up.  There are perfectly reasonable and acceptable answers as to why there might be a gap.  Gaps could be explained by military service or taking time off for raising a family and wanting to get back into the job market.  The candidate might have children who are now grown-up, or they have recently gone through a divorce, and they are looking to support themselves after taking time to raise a family.  Employment gaps are not always bad, but they should be investigated.


On the other end of the spectrum are the people who have new jobs every couple of years.  If you are looking at a resume and there are new jobs every 18 months, then this person is not looking to grow roots anywhere.  They are job-hopping.  There is any number of reasons people job hop from boredom to looking for quick jumps in salary or position.  Regardless of the reason, if the candidate says they are looking for a place to now settle in, there is no way to know if they are truthful.  Even if they are, someone who leaves a job so quickly is someone who has a very low threshold for dealing with issues.  They will just get up and leave.


In between the person with the employment gaps and the job-hopper is the person who has been static in their career for a very long time.  They might have been with a single company, or they might have moved once or twice through their career, however, their responsibilities have not changed significantly.  They were perfectly happy to fill a role, or they might just love that aspect of their job and didn’t care to be promoted out of it.  Staying in one position for a very long time can be a sign of dedication to a job, but it could also be a sign of lack of drive or direction.  It is essential to understand the difference.  Not everyone is meant for management, and some do not want to be managers.  They could still be excellent workers.  You want to understand the reason for the lack of advancement.  If it is a lack of drive or ambition, it could be a red flag.  It could be that the person has found their niche and enjoys the work and is productive and helpful to others.


Personalized for the position


Some people will have a single resume that they use for every occasion.  Others will spend time researching jobs and companies.  These people might even create an individual resume geared toward a specific position or specific company.  These are resumes you will want to pay particular attention to.


Create a checklist of requirements


One way to cut down on the number of resumes is to create a list of requirements, and before you spend any significant amount of time considering any candidate, make sure they check off most or all the checkboxes.  You don’t want to waste your time on candidates that do not meet the minimum requirements for employment.


Look for careless mistakes


Every resume has a typo or two.  However, when there are more than a few, or there are words that are consistently spelled wrong, then it just means that the person was careless, and that is a huge red flag.


Too much random details or personal information


Some people like to add sections like hobbies or other organizations to which they belong.  There are details that people want to include on their resume, such as academic or personal achievements that show drive and dedication, such as national honor society or earning Eagle Scout for a Black Belt in karate.  However. When there is too much extra information, it is a sign that it is being used to fill space on an otherwise sparse resume.  A sparse resume could mean the person has just graduated from school, or they have been with a single company their entire career.  A short resume is not a red flag as long as the information on it is relevant and sound.  A long resume for a person in that same situation might be a red flag.  It could be the relevant information is not that good, and they are trying to bury it with extraneous detail.


Let The Essex Companies Help You


Reading through a lot of resumes could be a daunting task.  Knowing what to look for and what to follow up on help get through the process.  It is easy to jump to a conclusion on why there might be a gap in employment or why someone stayed in the same position for ten years.


The Essex Companies help to cut through the pile of resumes looking for the right person for the job.  You can save yourself a lot of time and effort being allowing us to work with you to fill your open positions.