What to Look For On a Resume to Hire the Right Employees

You have a stack of fresh resumes in front of you, and your task is to narrow the stack down to three or four of the best candidates for the empty position. You will interview these three or four chosen candidates, and hopefully you’ll find just the person to help your company. It sounds simple, but what if you overlook the best candidate and fail to even interview him or her? What if you choose poorly and end up interviewing three or four people who absolutely do not fit the bill? Then you’ll have to start the whole process over again.

Many employers have been in your shoes. The hiring process can be difficult if you don’t know what to look for. Fortunately, your chances of success go way up if you look for the following items on each resume.

Relevant Skills

It doesn’t matter if a candidate went to Harvard or got a baseball scholarship if those skills don’t help in the job you’re trying to fill. Before you even pick up a resume, decide what skills are essential for the position, and look for those skills. If a candidate doesn’t have the skills, put the resume aside. It’s true that some people will pick up new skills quickly and easily, but if you need someone who can start making productive contributions to your company right away, hire someone who already has relevant skills.

Employment History

A good resume will include a comprehensive employment history and explain any gaps in employment. Pay attention to employment gaps. They could indicate problems such as time spent incarcerated or long periods of unemployment.

When you look at employment history, notice how long the applicant stays in one position. A resume that indicates a lot of “jumping around” between jobs could mean that the new hire won’t be with you very long. On the other hand, layoffs have been commonplace the last several years, and this has caused many people to move around more than usual.

In addition to looking for gaps and length of employment, take note of the places an applicant has worked. If you notice familiar companies on a resume, pay special attention. A person who has worked in your local industry will have experience that will be beneficial to your company.

Measurable Accomplishments

It’s one thing to read a resume that says, “Managed accounts payable,” and it’s another thing to read, “Improved cash flow in accounts payable by 10.3% for the last quarter.” Measurable accomplishments say two things about an applicant: the person has set goals and achieved them, and he or she knows the value of metrics for hiring managers. Both of these attributes will be beneficial in any organization.


Upon glancing through a resume, if an applicant doesn’t have the minimum educational requirements for the position, set the resume aside. Of the remaining resumes, look for those applicants who have sought out ongoing educational opportunities, whether they enroll in formal courses and certification programs or pursue personal educational goals. These candidates are the ones who will be driven and motivated to succeed, and when they succeed, your business will succeed as well.

By looking for relevant skills, exemplary employment history, measurable accomplishments, and appropriate education, you’ll be able to hone in on the candidates who will best fill your open positions. Once you have a promising resume in hand, you can continue your hiring process with the interview process, which we’ll discuss in another post.

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