A Closer Look at Resumes

By Messmer, Max | Strategic Finance, September 2001 | Go to article overview

A Closer Look at Resumes


Messmer, Max, Strategic Finance


It's understood that a resume is meant to point out a job applicant's strengths and downplay any weaknesses. While it would be helpful to have all the facts up front, you're not likely to see bulleted statements such as "not always a team player" or "needs to enhance people skills." These are things you'll have to try and discover during the interview process.

Although it can be difficult to determine from a surrie whether a candidate is a good fit for the job, there are techniques that can help you make better decisions about whom to call for interviews. What's essential is that your screening process is consistent and thorough.

Start with a system

Make sure you clarify the job requirements of the position for which you're hiring. Determine which qualifications and attributes are essential for high performance and which are less critical, but desired, skills. For example, you may prefer applicants who possess an MBA, but someone with equivalent work experience may be just as qualifled. If you set standards that are too rigid, you might overlook talented candidates.

By carefully defining your needs, you'll also be able to apply the same criteria to all resumes. With clear standards in mind, you can quickly identify those applicants best suited for the job.

Neatness counts

While you might not critique the layout or overall look of an accounting professional's resume the same way you would one submitted by someone applying for a job as a graphic designer, it's important not to discount these elements altogether. A resume with a messy appearance could indicate a lack of professionalism or attention to detail.

Take note of any typos or misspellings. One of the qualities you want in any accounting candidate is accuracy. In a survey by our company, 76% of executives said they wouldn't hire a candidate with even one or two typographical errors in his or her resume.

Pay attention to resume styles

Most resumes are organized in either a chronological or functional format. Those arranged chronologically have the most recent work experience listed first, followed by previous jobs. Functional resumes are organized based on skills and expertise.

With chronological resumes look carefully at the length of employment in jobs listed and gaps in work history. If there are unexplained breaks, be sure to ask about them during the interview process. There is most likely a reasonable explanation, such as time off to raise a family, but look for signs that the applicant may be deliberately hiding something.

When assessing functional resumes pay attention to what may be missing from the document. …

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