Resumes: Reading Between The Lines

By Catherine Lang-Cline

When you post a job opening, you might find yourself buried in resumes very quickly. Sorting through the stack can be a challenge because who has time to closely look at each and every one? And yet, you don’t want to miss a perfect candidate.

My best advice is to quickly rule out those that obviously do not fit the position. Since many people blast their resumes to nearly any open job, this should get your stack down to a manageable size. Now it’s time to look carefully and read between the lines. Here are some questions you’ll want to ask:

WHO is this person? Can you tell by looking at the resume what kind of a person this is? You can probably see if they are organized and pay attention to details. You should also be able to see if they have good taste and if they are intriguing. Sometimes just reading their resume makes you want to meet them and know more. These are the resumes to set at the top of your “next step” pile.

WHAT people have done at a company is very valuable because not everyone gets a dream job out of the gate. Really look at what they actually did in their role. If it is a design role, what did they work on, did they also do project management or pre-flight work? Those skimmed over details could benefit your company and tell you if they understand the entire process of how things work in your field. Even at smaller companies or in limited roles, people can accomplish impressive things.

WHERE people worked can be important. But don’t let the idea of where they worked completely romance you. They will probably have the skill set and the culture fit you are looking for, but reading between the lines, how long have they worked there? If they worked there a short amount of time, why are they leaving? Were they a bad fit? For them to be an actual product of a company, they will have needed to put some time in. Look up any company you have not heard of, you might be surprised.

WHEN they worked at certain companies reveals a lot. Are they a job-hopper? In that case, they might either still be looking for their dream role or they are hard to get along with. Were they at a job for an incredibly long period of time with no advancement? Job security is one thing but it also could mean that they are not very driven.

WHY they are a fit for your company should be obvious in the resume. It should appear as a nice upward progression. A lateral move could mean this person wants to break free from where they are. This is not a bad thing, but worth investigating. Why they want to work for you could also highly valuable. Skills can be taught, but if a person wants to work for you because they share your values and your passion for what you do, then regardless of experience, you have found your winner.

Still don’t have enough time to get through a stack of resumes? Think about engaging a recruiter to help you. Of course, there will be a fee, but your time is valuable and recruiters are trained to move through this process quickly and efficiently. They can help narrow down the who, what, where, when and why to get you your next best employee.