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Reading Between the Resume Lines

Catherine Lang-Cline

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It’s “National Update your Resume Month, ” so be ready for some fresh resumes to be headed your way. For many companies, managing the influx of resumes is an ongoing challenge. You would think that with that giant stack on your desk, there should be at least a few of interest. But weeding them out of the pile isn’t always easy. Sometimes companies automatically rule out candidates who might have been an excellent fit. Here are some tips to help ensure you don’t miss the best people to bring in for an interview:

  1. Balance skills with personality. Before you interview anyone, consider the importance of skills vs. personality to the position. It seems logical that if you are looking for a designer, they should have been a designer somewhere else. But with technology traveling at a rapid pace, there are new roles being invented all the time. So look at what they actually did in each of their roles. For example, skills like project management, design or writing can be very versatile and could be just what you need for your next social media person. Don’t over-focus on prior experience to the exclusion of all else.

  1. Don’t automatically rule out someone with several prior positions. Jumping around to different jobs or gaps in employment can sometimes be a red flag. But let’s read between the lines again. In the creative field again there is typically a lot of movement. So jumping around to different companies or gaps in employment should not surprise or shock. It’s one of the reasons why freelancing is so popular.

There has also been a lot of downsizing in the last few years. So really read to see if gaps and movement are freelancing, lay-offs, or maybe just an upward climb to better jobs. Gen X and Y workers are constantly challenging themselves with new things. If you are not sure why someone switched jobs, ask either the candidate or the past employers.

  1. Be willing to go with your gut. People’s personality can be seen in a resume itself. Are there typos? (Please do the humane thing and call them if you see one. You don’t have to hire them, but they should at least know. ) This person probably lacks a little attention to detail. Is the resume too long? This person could be long-winded or a bit egotistical. Is the design over the top? It probably means poor editing skills.

Sometimes people don’t represent themselves the best on paper. It can be difficult to sell yourself. One of the best things you can do is revisit that one resume that caught your eye for no reason at all and bring them in for an interview. There may something existing between the lines that will reveal a great candidate that has the drive and passion to complete any task you lay out for them.


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