Small Business Hiring: What to Look for in a Pile of Resumes

by / Thursday, 03 July 2014 / Published in Small Business Hiring

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Hiring is tough for small business owners. For one thing, it takes a long time to process the large number of applications that almost any well written job posting will get. Another problem is that a resume alone doesn’t tell the whole story behind a candidate’s qualifications, but, unless it is for a very specialized position, calling in every single applicant to interview may not be possible. What should you look for as positive indicators on a resume? It will of course vary depending on the resumes you are looking at, but here are a few guidelines that may be able to provide some additional clarity to small business owners in doubt.

A concise and well organized layout. One issue that is common in resume writing is the tendency to want to put too much information on a single sheet of paper. A full paragraph for each piece of job experience can become tedious to read over and over, making bullet points, clean sentences and a logical progression of information a desirable layout for most positions. An applicant’s cover letter is where they should be expounding on the nuances of their experience and providing additional relevant information. Trying to stuff a resume or allowing it to look sloppy is a bad sign that most business owners will immediately pick up on.

Correct grammar and polish. A mistake on a resume may or may not be a big deal, but a hiring manager should consider whether or not it could be caught on a single proof-reading. If the mistake is of a level that indicates that the person submitting their resume did not take the time to proof  what they had written that may be a negative indicator in regards to their attention to detail. This shouldn’t necessarily make or break an application, especially if their technical qualifications are strong, however it should definitely be used as an indicator.

Relevant skills and industry experience. The more experience an applicant has not only in the field, but in the specialized role you are going to be asking them to play, the better. You should also look for inclusion of any extra skill sets or activities that would complement the work they will be doing in your office, such as community service.

Look for indicators that they will go the extra mile. A resume alone can tell you what you need to know about a candidate when you are deciding who to interview, but you should also be on the lookout for candidates who go the extra mile to provide positive information for you. For example, including a cover letter without being asked is a positive sign, as well as listing references when they have not been asked for. This projects confidence in the applicants past experience as well as indicates that they did good work in their past positions.

Photo Credit to woodleywonderworks on Flickr

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