How to Read a Resume

Knowing how to quickly and thoroughly review applicant resumes is a valuable skill for a recruiter, hiring manager or anyone else involved in hiring a new employee. Like any skill, knowing how to review a resume — and gather the information you need to determine whether an applicant qualifies for the next phase in the hiring process — takes practice. The more time you spend reviewing applications, the more efficient you will be in deciphering a resume.
 

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Tips for Reading a Resume

 
Here are five steps for how to read a resume and determine which applicants are best qualified for the open position you’re offering.
 

1. Review the Cover Letter

Not all employers require a cover letter but, even if you don’t ask for one, candidates may choose to include this document to further explain why they believe they’re the best fit for the role. A cover letter will not only clarify skills and experiences, but it can give you an idea of a candidate’s level of confidence and self-awareness, their excitement about the opportunity and any background research they may have done before applying. It can also give you a peek into their personality.

 

2. Perform a Resume Scan

Resumes include a lot of information, so it’s a good idea to read through them more than once. The first time, perform a resume scan. Quickly skim through the document and look for any keywords or specific skills that align with the job description you developed. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for grammar and spelling, which can help you identify whether or not a candidate pays attention to detail and knows how to present themselves professionally.
 

3. Deep Dive into Skills and Qualifications

Your second resume read-through will allow you to examine specific elements more carefully. First, consider the skills and qualifications and determine whether they are relevant to the job role you’re looking to fill. Ideally, candidates should tailor their resume to each job they apply for and should highlight proficiencies that will help them excel at your company.
 

Compare their list of skills to the job requirements and consider any gaps. If the job role requires a skill the applicant hasn’t listed, make a note of this and, if you decide to pass them through to the next phase, you can ask them about their capabilities in that particular area.
 

4. Thoroughly Review Previous Employment

Next, you’ll want to delve into the applicant’s employment history. Consider job titles and primary duties and consider whether these experiences will help the candidate fulfill the responsibilities you’ve outlined in the job description. Also carefully review dates of employment. Make a note of any gaps in employment or short stints, and consider asking the candidate to expand or explain if you decide to move them on to the next round.
 

5. Determine Whether the Applicant Qualifies for the Next Phase

After you’ve read the cover letter, performed an initial resume scan and analyzed skills, qualifications and employment history, it’s time to decide whether or not you want to move the applicant on to a phone screening or interview. Once you’ve made your selections from the stack, be sure to file away other impressive resumes for later. If a candidate’s resume is strong, but it doesn’t fit the job role you’re looking to fill, keep the resume on hand in case they may be a good fit for another opportunity in the future.
 

These five steps will help you learn how to review a resume efficiently so you can quickly recognize which applicants are the best fit and move along to the next part of the hiring process.

 
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