On the Hunt: What Hiring Managers Should Look for in Applicant Resumes

By: Shane Cotner

Finding a star in a crowded field of job candidates isn’t easy. A resume is often the first impression that could make or break an applicant’s chance at a first-round interview. To discover that needle in a haystack, what green flags should hiring managers keep an eye out for? How do you spot a winner from a fleeting on-paper encounter? For a few streamlined ideas, take a look below for the telltale signs to look out for when on the hunt for the next great company talent.

· A good resume is customized for the role in mind.

Candidates who style their resumes for the specific role in mind demonstrate an extra level of commitment. On the other hand, candidates who submit a one-size-fits-all resume for a competitive position signal the work of an amateur applicant. With that in mind, give preference to tailored resumes that highlight specific points—like applicable responsibilities and desired skills. These details may provide insight to the particulars of a candidate’s ability and cultural fit. Remember: you’ve got countless resumes to sift through. Candidates who craft their resume and pitch to the role they’re seeking are worth your time.

· Look for as many specifics as possible.

Specific evidence of candidates’ effectiveness in their previous positions is among the best ways to measure potential for success. For instance, it’s much more convincing to review an impressive sales record with hard numbers than to simply read over listed traits. In a prime resume, sales candidates will outline what they’re selling and who they’re selling to. Also, they should detail how good they are at selling by featuring any achieved goals, quotas, annual sales, growth over time, and any awards and/or recognitions. These specifics speak to the seriousness with which the candidate is approaching the desired role. Keep an eye out for specific examples that illustrate a candidate’s best qualities and how they’ve positively impacted their workplace or team.

· Try to identify a theme.

While broad experience isn’t necessarily negative, a scattershot resume with no perceptible through-line is generally off-putting when you want a sure thing. As you review resumes, try to identify a theme or pattern in a candidate’s work experience. Search for a common thread that conveys consistency, long-term vision, and skills. Maybe this means a consistent role as team-lead across varying industries, or perhaps he or she can point to a consistently high-performing sales record. A documented history of promotions demonstrates lasting value and potential for growth. Whatever the case may be, find common ground in a candidate’s experience to get a clearer picture of who they are off the page.

As a hiring manager, you’ll have to sort through a lot of resume data. To be efficient and effective, your approach must be systematic when in search for the right fit. Attention to detail, citing specifics, and a clear narrative can make a world of difference when you’re pulling a dream candidate from a heap of submissions. Don’t let opportunity pass you by. Keep these tips in mind and you may just secure the breakout talent you’ve been looking for.

Shane Cotner is a Senior Recruiter at Grapevine – Targeted Sales Recruiting. Visit www.grapevinerecruiting.com, call 952.856.2984 or email shane@grapevinerecruiting.com.