Reviewing Resumes: 5 Must-Know Tips for Smart Hiring

When hiring virtual team members, it’s always been a practice of mine to focus on WHO the person is rather than WHAT their skills are. However, there are times when skills are important too, this is where reading your applicants’ resumes can be quite handy.

Reading an applicant’s resume can tell you much about their professional background. But this process can be complicated, especially when you’re looking to hire your team members from freelancing/contractor websites.

This gets even messier when you’re inundated with a large number of applicants.

When I started outsourcing, the part that always concerned me was the stage after I put up the job post, which is when I get swarmed with responses. 

The numbers tend to vary, but over the years, I found that when I go live with the posting on Monday or Tuesday morning, I get overwhelmed with applicants. One job posting can equal 60 or 70 applicants. 

Looking through all of them flying in after I posted a job used to be quite a shocker. 

If you’ve been there, you’ll know that it can be time-consuming and mentally draining!

Before we started organizing our criteria and making an automated process for reviewing resumes, things were extremely intimidating and scary but we fixed that, and the scenario above is not something we go through anymore because we have some automation carrying the load.

In this blog, I will be walking you through some of the criteria we focus on when it comes to reviewing resumes. That way, you will have a more streamlined process instead of just randomly checking for keywords or work experience. 

However, I will state that the list below is not something set in stone and is just a general overview of what I, and other recruiters, like to screen for. Overall, this checklist helps me refine the process when reviewing hundreds of submitted resumes. 

So what do I recommend you look for when evaluating a resume? Read on to find out.

Criteria 1: Basic Qualifications

To speed up the resume review, most seasoned recruiters look at hundreds of resumes at a glance. And by looking at it, you can already see if they fit the basic qualifications. For example, with work-from-home jobs, it is essential to be at least technologically competent. By this, it could be the specifications of their laptop or, more importantly, the speed of their internet.

In the case of a content writer, I’d at least have someone who enjoys writing (this doesn’t always mean someone who has writing experience). This process can quickly help you separate your target candidates from those who are unqualified.

So determine what your basic qualifications are and this will help you easily weed out the qualified from the unqualified.

Category 2: Work Experience

Most resumes include a professional summary. This should include why the applicant is qualified, what they’re great at and passionate about. A strong applicant will enumerate the achievements they have made with quantifiable results. Percentage of sales that went up, profit and cost savings, or the number of social media engagements. 

Bonus tip: focus on the keywords. Relevant keywords may help you with future job openings. Define what your basic keywords are, that way it’ll be easier to scan through resumes.

Category 3: Proper Spelling and Grammar

We may not be focusing on a specific skill set, but grammatical and spelling issues can appear as a lack of attention to detail. When someone says in a resume that they are detail-oriented, one way to counter-check this is by going through their resume format. 

Inconsistencies and spelling issues can make you wonder if the person did it in a hurry, if they wanted the job, or if they were just mass-applying to different job openings they saw. Remember that this step isn’t merely there to just measure their English proficiency.

Category 4: Personality and Values

Speaking with an applicant through interviews is the best way to check their personality. But normally, I ask for LinkedIn and Facebook profiles to check an applicant’s online presence. This gives me a general idea of what the person is like. Everybody tends to put up what they’re like on their social media, whether they know it or not. 

Because I’m not as formal, I tend to always go for socials, as opposed to LinkedIn (because LinkedIn is more professional). So I tend to ask for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram before I ask for LinkedIn. 

On resumes, you can also usually get a quick glimpse of their personality and values in the work experience section. Most applicants list out their responsibilities and specific examples of professional and personal development. 

In your job posting, if you ask them to send a cover letter and they send none, this can tell you about their ability to follow directions. A well-written resume shows clear communication, which is essential when handling a virtual team. 

Another thing you’ll want to look at in terms of personality is someone who is coachable. Working from home requires your employees to have this trait, especially if you’ll be training them with new programs and knowledge. 

Although this can be a bit difficult to detect during a quick interview or through the resume, seeing whether they have attended various training or have a few relevant certificates under their belt can be a good indicator. 

In our business, eight out of ten times, we usually go for someone with the personality we are looking for rather than someone with the skills. Skills are mostly trainable, but personality is the willingness to learn and develop those skills. 

Category 5: Red Flags

Honestly, I don’t tend to find red flags in resumes as a piece of paper with words written on it cannot accurately represent someone. 

So when people make it through the process and we get to speak to them, I ask questions about the resume or any concerns I might have. 

When I look at a resume, I look at how consistent everything is. So if somebody says they are a confident English speaker in their resume, but they’re slow in responding to me during the interview, or if there are a lot of grammatical mistakes in their resume, I’ll call them on it. 

Some recruiters also like to look at things such as whether the applicant job hops consistently or has a long hiatus in between work experiences. This is not something I personally do, but this is a great tip for those who want to use it.

Yes, The Resume Is Important, However…

Don’t let a resume be the sole reason you hire or don’t hire someone. 

Some people hire primarily because of a good-looking and good-sounding resume. But like anything else written on a piece of paper, it can be faked. 

I have had experiences wherein an applicant has a very well-written, well-formatted resume, but my interview with them wasn’t all that great. I’ve also had applicants with subpar resumes but did really well during the interview.  

This is why I usually look at the actual process done during the application rather than the resume. 

We like to have a step-by-step approach when hiring someone. 

Generally, we tend to find that with every stage we go down, we get a 50 percent drop-off. So, if we get 60 applicants through the job post and through to stage one, about 30 of them make it through to stage two, and about 15 of those that make it through are considered for an interview. 

Then, when it gets to the interview, we pick between five and seven. Seven is a good number just in case somebody drops out. That way, we still have a decent number to which we can refer back.

When I look at resumes, I just like to see how interesting the people are. This is because in our application process, qualifiers are done in phases as opposed to their resumes having any real sway on the decision to move them to the next stage or to invite them for an interview. 

The resume becomes important when presenting candidates to clients because clients like to look at those things. But even then, I stress to the clients that our process is more about finding the right person than finding the person with the right skill. 

At the end of the day, my process could be different from yours. If you don’t have a proper hiring system in place yet, reviewing resumes is definitely a good way to start. Hopefully, these tips will help you find your next reliable virtual team member to help you grow and scale your business.

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