A resume can be a powerful tool when it comes to selecting the best candidate for an important role—but it’s not the full story. There’s a lot that a single piece of paper won’t be able to tell you, especially if that paper has gone through many revision rounds, sometimes with a professional resume writer. If common advice for job hunters is to “tell a story” with their resume, then the flip side of that is that when you, the hiring manager, go to look at their resume… You’re getting a carefully curated image of that candidate that contains only the story they think you want to read. Sometimes that’s a good thing—it makes some unqualified candidates obvious and easy to remove from the hiring process. In other cases, however, it can muddy the waters. You may find yourself comparing several equally qualified resumes to each other, going line by line and trying to weigh which ones you want to interview.
There’s a better way. We’ve been in the recruiting business for years, and we know that a candidate’s resume can only tell you so much—in fact, it may not tell you the most important things you need to know about a candidate at all. Getting bogged down on a candidate’s resume can actually hinder the recruiting process, not help it.
Here are five ways to identify an all-star candidate that you won’t find in a resume:
A Compelling Cover Letter
Much to many candidates chagrin, the cover letter is still an exceptionally important part of the application process and can be a decision-maker in many cases. The cover letter should be more than just a restatement of the facts in the resume, and in particular, it should be more than statistics. A cover letter is a candidate’s chance to tell their story and prove why their experience, qualifications, and skills make them the perfect person for the role you’re looking to fill. Look for the candidate who goes above and beyond to prove that the next step in their story is at your company, with your team.
Social Media Sleuthing
You would be shocked by the number of job seekers who don’t think about how their social media profiles reflect against their professional image. We’ve seen stellar professionals whose LinkedIn accounts are tidy, but whose Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram tell a different story—one of late nights, hard drinking, and even criminal activity. Watch out for folks like these! You can protect yourself and your company by doing your research upfront and checking out applicants’ social media profiles across all platforms before going any further in the application process.
Read Between the References
Once a candidate has told you who they are, it’s time to corroborate their story. What do previous coworkers, supervisors, and employers have to say about them? Ask you check references, it’s important to learn to read between the lines and hear what people aren’t saying to you. If someone is spoken of as being “bullish” and “leadership potential”, does that mean that they’re really a leader or is that a nice way of saying that they’re pushy or even rude? You’ll also want to look for basic fact-checking and make sure your applicants actually worked at the company when they said they did and did what they claimed to while they were there. If your candidates tell the truth and receive positive reviews from peers and supervisors, it’s safe to proceed.
There’s a reason in-person networking is still a great way to connect with potential employees and employers. Face-to-face interactions tell volumes about a candidate’s social skills, personality, and culture fit, long before they may even have applied to your company. A kind and well-dressed acquaintance with a firm handshake and a big smile may become someone you want to pursue adding to your team based on in-person interaction alone. If a picture is worth a thousand words, personal interaction in an automated age is worth millions. Look for the candidates who you’d be proud to work alongside every day, in the way they carry and conduct themselves and the way that they work.
The Untold Story
Sometimes, what’s NOT on a resume is just as important as what is on the resume. This can look like the familiar employment gap or a job that references may mention but that the candidate chose to omit, or even just information like title, length of employment, or duties that may be left off. Other questions to consider include: Does what’s listed on their LinkedIn match what’s listed on their resume? All these areas where there could be a discrepancy of any sort make great talking points, both in initial discussions with the candidate and with references. Don’t discount things like employment gaps—they may have been volunteering in South America, backpacking Europe, or grieving the loss of a family member—but be prepared to ask about it in the screening process.
All of these elements can help both recruiters and hiring managers get a full picture of a candidate’s strengths, weaknesses, personality, and overall culture fit. In today’s digital age, it’s easy to take a hands-off approach to the recruiting process and let automated systems spit out a “top five” list—but this approach may cost you the best candidates. After all, you need to hire a human being, not a piece of paper. With our bespoke recruiting experience, we dig deeper and get to know our candidates as people, so that we can be sure to present you with the talent you need.
Ready to find the perfect candidate for your vacant position? Contact GRN Mid-Cities today.