Companies are always on the lookout for top-notch talent. But no matter how you find it, whether it's through online job posts, referrals, job fairs, targeted search, or your company web page, there is always one thing that's certain. At some point, they'll have to send you their resumes and you'll have to evaluate them, and while this may appear to be a straightforward task, there are actually quite a lot of misconceptions and pitfalls that you can fall prey to.
The fact is, there's no textbook way of judging the value of what's being shown on a candidate's resume. Should you be concerned with someone who's been changing jobs frequently? Is it bad if a candidate seems overqualified for the job, or is that actually a good thing? While there are plenty of guidelines and advice out there on how to write resumes, there really isn't that much on how to interpret them.
So with this in mind, here are five things to avoid when reviewing resumes.
1. Misinterpreting stylistic preferences as mistakes.
We like to think that our way of doing things is always the right way. However, when it comes to resume writing, there are many different, yet equally acceptable ways of showcasing one's career accomplishments. In fact, not even professional resume writing services can agree upon a particular style that always works best.
Some like to use short and sweet bullet points, while others prefer to squish everything together into long paragraphs. Some prefer a more standard look to their resumes while others prefer a more modern one. Some words can even be spelled using different variants, all of which are technically correct. In order to unbiasedly review resume applications, be aware of your own preferences when it comes to resume etiquette and writing preferences.
2. Disregarding colorful/infographic resumes.
Much can go wrong for applicants who dare take the risk of sprinkling some color or graphics onto their resume. In fact, professional resume writers are specifically trained not to pull that sort of nonsense. However, just because it's not wise for applicants to do so doesn't necessarily mean employers should dock off points for reading an otherwise perfectly well-written resume.
The reality is, there really isn't anything wrong with mixing things up. Sure, it might not be particularly impressive to you, and it may even may stick out like a sore thumb that throws off your rhythm, but that's not what determines a good hire from a bad one. On the contrary, this type of effort is a sign of someone who's always striving to innovate and push the boundaries with their creativity.
3. Harping on GPA.
Strong academic performance has never been strongly linked to success in the workplace, yet so many employers like to harp on the GPA of job applicants. While GPA is the be-all and end-all for students, it's actually quite an unreliable source of information for employers to base their hiring decisions off of.
For one, GPA averages vary by school. A 3.4 GPA in one college could be harder to get than a 3.7 GPA in another, and just because one school is regarded as being "better" than another, it's not necessarily more difficult to achieve the same GPA. On top of that, GPA also highly depends on the specific courses that a student chooses to take.
With how unreliable of a metric GPA can be, it's better for employers to interpret it with a grain of salt. Don't think that finding top-notch talent restricts you to only considering top-notch students.
4. Becoming overly reliant on Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)
All right, I get it. Companies want to make the most out of all the hiring technology that's out there. So naturally, the first thing they jump towards is adopting an applicant tracking system to help manage and automate the resume review process. However, ATS's are unnecessary for most new businesses, and have an extremely unreliable resume screening system.
If you don't already know, ATS's are configured to look for specific keywords on a resume. They're also able to identify some basic things like the candidate's total number of years of experience, education level, and job titles. From there, they score resumes based on how well these resumes have matched the criteria you have set.
Unfortunately, a lot can go wrong in this process. ATS's can generally only read certain file types and resume formats, which can lead to many resumes being unnecessarily thrown out of the equation. Many of them can only handle the most common file types and will display inaccurate information for the applications that fail to be parsed properly. Unless you're being swamped by job applications, it's worth the extra time and effort to review resumes yourself to make sure no potential candidate is missed.