6 Critical Things a Resume Won’t Tell You


Mark LewisCo-founder and CEO of HelloCecil

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

When trying to recruit the right person for the job, you can spend hours crawling through an endless list of resumes. But these emotionless pieces of paper won't tell you the 6 critical things you need to know when making a hiring decision.

Article 4 Minutes
6 Critical Things a Resume Won’t Tell You

The traditional resume format is just that - old, form-bound, and often out of touch with the current job market.

Chronological resume formats are not only a pain to write, but just as painful for hiring managers to read. How many times do you need to see the same job title over and over before they all blur together? How much information can you really glean from a bulleted list of responsibilities that are a copy of the job description they applied for?

Sure, the traditional resume can give you the company name and an objective list of responsibilities and achievements. But they are wholly inadequate at telling you anything subjectively meaningful about an applicant - the types of things that would truly determine their success at your organization.  

Consider what a resume won’t tell you:

1. Attitude

What a person did in his job isn’t always as important as how he did it. A traditional resume might list eight bullet points of tasks and responsibilities, but did the candidate accomplish them with gusto and energy, or did they do the bare minimum amount of work required?

Attitude is the key factor between an employee who pulls his own weight and one who becomes a burden on the team. This quality simply cannot be seen in a traditional resume format and should be what a hiring manager susses out the first chance they get.

2. Work ethic

Attitude tells you how a person approaches a job or task, but work ethic can describe how a person approaches their career as a whole and how they value the concept of work. A traditional resume offers very little insight in this area because it just lists the roles a person has had without telling you why they moved from position to position or company to company.

3. Accomplishments

This is by far the most common pitfall of traditional resume formats. The responsibilities a candidate had at a company is informative, but what they measurably accomplished in carrying out their responsibilities is truly enlightening. It’s the difference between learning a candidate managed sales for the entire West Coast and learning that their management of sales resulted in a 150% increase year on year for their product line.  

4. Impact

Following the importance of accomplishments is the impact those accomplishments had on the organization.  For example, the candidate may have redesigned their department’s workflow to achieve a 20% savings in labor costs, but was the impact of that accomplishment on overall operations a significant or insignificant one?

Resumes also don’t communicate the stakes for the project. Was their role part of a global campaign that had effects across the entire business? Or were their projects smaller yet still pivotal to success in local territories?

5. Motivation

Why a candidate works is often a good indicator of how they will behave as an employee. Millennials tend to believe strongly in personal growth and having a positive impact on the world at large, while baby boomers will be more career- and salary-driven.

These wildly varied motivations will change how a candidate will be managed and how they will fit into your corporate culture. Older companies tend to have a difficult time recruiting millennials, while startups are a more challenging environment for employees who want more stability.

6. Learning aptitude

If you’re like many companies, despite best efforts, you don’t have the time or resources to develop a deep training program. Even those that do often have them more for roles with a high turnover rate, such as Customer Service Representatives or Sales, and less for specialized roles like marketing or software development.  In these instances, it would be very helpful to know just how quickly a candidate can get up to speed with the tools, background information, and internal procedures necessary to do his job.

Unfortunately, that isn’t something a traditional resume can tell you. Even if the candidate says “fast learner” on their resume, how “fast” is “fast?” In a day? A week? Will they need constant reminders? The information just doesn’t come through.

In conclusion

Traditional resumes are good at communicating basic information, but for the hiring manager, it’s an incomplete picture. Only with additional screening tools, like properly conducted phone interviews or the use of automated video interviewing software, can you get to the more valuable insights necessary for informed decision-making. Making decisions on who to bring in for in-person interviews based solely on resumes is a high-risk thing to do -- you can spend valuable time and resources interviewing a lobby full of unqualified candidates.

Mark Lewis

Mark Lewis is the Co-Founder and CEO of HelloCecil, a SaaS-based automated video interviewing platform. Mark has some serious HR chops after twenty-five years in the trade. In the early days, he was Sr. VP, Business Affairs and Human Resources for an international publicly-traded company.  Later, he owned a health care business in Los Angeles where he hired, trained and managed hundreds of team members.   


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