The 'Truth' to Unraveling Resumes - Recruitment & Retention
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The 'Truth' to Unraveling Resumes


Article Date: 08-01-2007
Copyright(C) 2008 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.

Be wise as you sift through resumes to find the right candidate.

Many AED senior managers remember the TV game show, "Truth or Consequences," in which contestants had to correctly answer the "truth" about an obscure trivia question or face a zany "consequence." In this column, we'll explore ways to interpret resumes and decipher their fact versus fiction to help you avoid the consequences of a bad hire. Our objective is to help managers optimize their hiring processes, and the resume is one of the key elements in the selection of ideal future leaders. Resumes are really candidate sales presentations. This is not good or bad; it's just reality. Our executive search firm probably sees thousands of resumes per year. We need to comprehend that job seekers are doing their best to "sell" value to a prospective employer. Many resumes are factual presentations of professional experience and education. Some are fairly accurate and others are gross misrepresentations.

Let's explore techniques to help hiring authorities dig beneath the surface of these resume sales presentations, starting with the premise that 100 percent of resume content may not be "the whole truth and nothing but the truth."

(1.) Don't waste time on "great resumes" that do not relate to your hiring need. In a future column we will provide tips on how to develop meaningful position specifications. For now, our advice is to quickly screen out candidates who "look great" but lack the skill sets you need. Focus on your critical opening.

(2.) Look for gaps in employment. Our firm asks candidates for the month and year of each career change, and the reasons for the transition. In today's era of mergers, reorganizations and downsizing, breaks for a new career search are understandable; but as a future employer you should know the facts. Was (s)he in substance abuse rehab or simply seeking a new job? There's a big difference.

(3.) Quantifiable results, not advertising hype, are the meat of a resume. For example: How many people were directly managed? Responsibility for facilities or assets. What countries/states were covered? What sales and profit results - in percentages or dollars - were obtained versus history and objectives?

(4.) Education credentials may be inflated or totally falsified. The media has described disappointing stories of high-profile sports coaches and other leaders who falsely claimed degrees. The surprise is not the "resume fraud," but that it went undetected for years.

We recommend that you verify degrees. One popular trick is for candidates to list an undergraduate college experience, without claiming a degree, and then listing several graduate level courses giving the impression of at least a four-year degree. Our firm recommends rejecting candidates who falsify credentials, not because they lack a degree but because integrity should be non-negotiable.

(5.) Meaningful reference checks help validate career changes, accomplishments, and more. This topic merits a future column. For now, we emphasize the need to conduct meaningful reference checks to make sure you're hiring the "genuine article" and not hiring a paid resume ghostwriter's fictitious candidate.

(6.) Look for special skill sets that fit your needs. Computer skills are a good example. Maybe you need special accounting software experience, or CPA credentials for a new CFO; or customer contact database knowledge in a sales or marketing manager, etc. If your job requires heavy travel, has he/she done that? Has a prospective branch manager or product support leader completed relevant AED training? Make your own checklist.

Final thoughts
Use resumes as a tool; don't accept their content as "gospel truth." Quickly screen out "exciting resumes" that do not fit current needs. Your time is too valuable. And give top candidates your position description. Ask them to respond, in writing, how they fit your desired qualifications.

Reference check for verification.

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Article Categories:  Human Resources