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The Ultimate Resume Guide: Key Tips for Recruiters and Hiring Managers

According to research, poor hiring decisions can lead to damages that affect the whole business. Over half of bad hires will negatively affect the performance of their colleagues, and 39% of companies say productivity falls after a bad hire. Nearly a quarter of companies say they have lost over $50,000 due to bad hires. So, how can recruiters and hiring managers minimize the risk of bad hires? It all starts with the resumé.

The resumé is usually the first point of contact recruiters have with job candidates, and it’s a critical but often under-developed skill to parse these documents. Being able to read a resumé effectively can help get top talent in the door while preventing poor hires before they happen.

Green Flags

To start, look for “green flags” that indicate the candidate is a good fit. The resumé should show whether, and in what ways, the candidate could be a valuable asset to the company. It should connect the dots between their past experiences and future potential. Look for:

• Job-related accomplishments (the more specific, the better).
• Clear examples of successful outcomes in jobs, projects, or duties that translate to your own workplace.
• Promotions and other indications of an upward-moving career trajectory.
• Indications of soft skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication.

That last point is essential. Most resumés focus on experience and hard job-related skills, so recruiters sometimes have to read between the lines to see if the candidate is, for example, a good communicator or has the demeanor or personality appropriate for the role (e.g., if they’re going into sales, are they a “people person”). Don’t take green flags at face value, however. Always do your due diligence and corroborate candidate claims.

Red Flags

Red flags are counter-indications you should look for too. These red flags should at least give you pause before going any further with this applicant. Here, we’re looking for indicators that suggest the candidate may lack the qualities needed to do the job successfully. Red flags can include:

• Vague, generic statements and claims.
• Experience, skills, and claims that don’t match the job role.
• Errors, including spelling, grammatical, and informational.
• Employment gaps and missing information.
• The information on the resumé doesn’t quite add up.

That last point can be subtle. For example, does the applicant’s progression of work experience align with the timeline described? If your candidate goes from entry-level to supervisor to middle management to entry-level to…wait, what? Something is off in that timeline. Is there a lack of a coherent career progression?

None of these issues alone should necessarily disqualify an individual. Almost all of them can have reasonable explanations, but each of these issues should definitely give hiring managers pause and lead to further questions.

CoAdvantage, one of the nation’s largest Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs), helps small to mid-sized companies with HR administration, benefits, payroll, and compliance. To learn more about our ability to create a strategic HR function in your business that drives business growth potential, contact us today.