Rethinking the Rules of Resume Screening

Rethinking the Rules of Resume Screening
by Catherine Iste, MultiBriefs

Anyone who has had the pleasure of screening resumes has a set of rules that allows them to look for their perceived ideal candidate. In addition to the things that should be on the resume (directly related experience, required education level, etc.), there are things many resume reviewers do not want to see (multiple positions in less than five years, gaps, etc).

Here are three traditional rules you might want to rethink to ensure you do not miss a potentially ideal candidate.

Job hopping or career advancement?

It used to be that if you stayed in a position for less than two years or had multiple two-year positions, you were a job hopper. For the longest time, those ambitious people who could not advance in their small company or who rightly determined a position was not a good fit for them and changed course were looked upon as unstable flight risks.

It is time to rethink that candidate.

Unless you are in an industry that takes two years to learn, you could be missing out on some focused, solid candidates by dismissing this group. If the applicant looks great, do not let this one characteristic deter your from calling her for an interview. Ask her to explain the changes — if the answer has more to do with advancement and career satisfaction than layoffs, and mutual parting of ways — she is worth considering.

Stability or stagnation?

On the flip side of that is the stability question. Is 10 years in one place a good thing? Only if you are looking for someone to stay with you for 10 years.

Most candidates who have been in one position for a long time and are now looking for a new role are usually looking for another position they can hold onto for a long time. If you are hiring for an office manager, this might be a good thing. But if you are seeking a more traditionally dynamic position like sales, marketing or many executive-level roles, you may want to consider a candidate more open to change.

The Gap: Good for jeans and the company

As odd as it sounds, so many people dismiss any candidate with a gap on his resume. This may not just be discriminatory it is also short-sighted. A candidate who took a break for a year to travel or for many years to raise his kids will have valuable perspective that can greatly benefit most companies.

Ask about the gap before you decide.

The bottom line is, we all have rules for dismissing candidates — we have to. Too many times there are too many applicants, and we need some parameters to get through them and whittle them down to the sharpest few.

However, before you begin your screening process for your next hire, reconsider your top three rules for filtering out candidates. Many rules against a resume can also be seen as a positive vote for that resume.

With hiring on the rise, competition increasing and so many great candidates, make sure you open your mind to the potential of making an even better hire.