More Is Better, Right? Why Getting Applications Isn’t the Problem – Evaluating Them Is.

How to evaluate job applications and resumesTruly interested candidates will take the time to demonstrate why you should take the time to interview them.

Your business has caught the winds of success, and you’re unfurling your sails to gain speed and foster growth. That means hiring more people for your team – which means you’ll soon be looking at a lot of resumes.

It will be a lot of resumes, and you may start to wonder how it’s possible that so many qualified people have managed to find and apply for your job. While it’s possible you’ve hit the motherlode of the job candidate goldmine, it’s more likely that you’re just experiencing the standard deluge of keyword-stuffed resumes submitted by sub-par applications. Here’s how to jump over this obstacle and sort through the tidal wave of resume submissions to find top contenders.

Pay attention to the cover letter first

There’s little room for creativity or unique thinking in a resume. They tend to follow standard formats and present uniform information. It’s a different story for cover letters. This is where you can and should get your first impression of a candidate.

Are they capable of capturing your attention by telling you why you should consider them? They’ll never get a second chance with this first impression, so it should be a perfect presentation. Set this resume in the pile for further consideration if their introduction captures your attention.

No cover letter? That could be a tipoff. The applicant saw the job posting, tweaked their resume with the appropriate keywords, and sent it off to you. It’s generally accepted that unqualified applications skip a cover letter. That’s a time-waster for them.

To be fair, job applicants are sometimes told that cover letters are unnecessary in this age of computer-aided recruitment where resume screening software scans and makes the initial decision about job candidates.

You’re looking for the best to join your team. Taking the extra time to craft a cover letter is a strong indication that they’re worth further consideration.

Resume? Or laundry list of responsibilities?

Resumes are so necessary that the top word processing programs include resume templates. It’s appropriate to say that resumes serve the functional and utilitarian purpose of imparting the who/what/when/where/why job information history of a candidate. However, that information isn’t really going to provide what you need – which is perspective.

What you need to know is how a candidate plans to use their skills and experience for you and your company. Listing all the things they were responsible for in previous positions is a good first step. Look for the next and more important step. Do they explain how they used these skills to successfully accomplish projects?

 job candidate worth pursuing will give you specific, quantifiable accomplishments that resulted from the responsibilities they were given in previous positions. You’ve got a potential winner’s resume in your hands if this information is included.

Getting to the point

Is a candidate really interested in your job posting, or did they just throw a resume at you because some of their skills matched your requirements? One way to tell is by looking for a summary statement of their qualifications and experience.

You can gauge interest by whether a candidate has taken the time to create a customized summary, matching relevant prior experience and accomplishments with the objectives you’ve placed in your job description.

Warning signs

You’ve got an interesting candidate’s resume in front of you. They’ve sparked your initial interest with a custom cover letter, and they’ve included quantifiable information that shows how they’ve used their skills and experience for past success. Look for these cautionary signs before proceeding with an interview. They may not be reasons to reject a candidate, but you’ll want to ask them about it.

  • Employment gaps. Sabbatical? Time off to care for an ailing spouse? A gap in employment might just be for personal reasons. It’s important to find out.
  • Multiple career shifts. Sometimes it’s just because they reached a plateau and it was time to pursue another calling. There are other times when it’s a sign that your candidate just isn’t capable of committing to the growing responsibilities that come with career growth. You’ll want to determine which of these explanations are the case.

Gainful employment is something that practically everyone wants, but not all candidates are truly interested in your particular job position. Gaming scanning software with keywords is easy to do – and unfortunately, it makes your job of determining viable candidates a bit more difficult. Follow the above quick and easy tips to separate the true potential candidates from the army of unqualified applicants you’ll receive.