Bucklin Human & Administrative Resources

Recruiting: What To Look for in a Resume

By Renée Bucklin

You have a position to fill, you need someone soon. You put the ad in the paper and/or on the internet, and now the résumés are flooding in. How do you decide which ones to follow up with?

Sifting through a large number of applicants can be a daunting process. You know what you're looking for in terms of experience and education; you've done it before. But have you always hired the right person?

There are many books on the hiring process, and it's not my purpose to re-write them here for you. I would just like to give you some tips on what to look for in those résumés so you can interview and then hire the most qualified applicants.

  1. Experience - Look for well-written descriptions of previous jobs, identification of organizations and specific processes/systems they have worked on that correspond to your needs. However, also be open to considering skills that may have been used in volunteer or intern positions that could be applicable.
  2. Gaps in work history - Look for consecutive dates of employment and be prepared to ask about any gaps. An unexplained "break" in work history could signify time spent in jail or staying home with the family - don't judge, but do ask. A good explanation shows the applicant's good communication skills.
  3. Jumping around - A person who has had many short-term jobs should explain the situations. In the past, frequent "job hopping" was considered detrimental, perceived as not being able to commit or keep a job. Now, with so many companies laying people off, it is not always the person's fault if their tenure is short. Also, people are more apt to take advantage of other opportunities as they become available, especially in the high-tech and computer industries. You do want to discuss this issue at length, because you don't want your new hire to be leaving you on a whim.
  4. Education - Unfortunately, not everyone is honest about their educational history these days. The good news is that such information can be verified. You should ask something about their education in the interview to see how they respond, and make it clear that you will be checking the records.
  5. Discrimination - Résumés should not include information that identifies an applicant's race, sex, or national origin. You should not disqualify an applicant on these bases.
  6. Overall "look" - The layout and text should be easily read. The information should be organized and easily understood. Previous employers and dates of employment should be identified for each job. The standard has been that résumés should be no longer than two pages - longer ones are harder to read, unless such specific information is required to adequately convey the applicant's experience.


For assistance with your recruiting needs or more information about hiring practices, call Renée Bucklin at 885-3569.  Bucklin Human and Administrative Resources is dedicated to serving the human resources’ needs of small business.


Bucklin Human & Administrative Resources
P.O. Box 6103
Warwick, RI 02887

Phone: 401-885-3569
Fax:      401-885-9782
Email Renée Bucklin

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