6 Important Things To Look For When Reviewing Candidate Resumes
A hiring manager reviews candidate resumes.

Hiring the right candidate for an open position is one of the most challenging tasks there is in today’s business world. Simply reviewing candidate resumes can be overwhelming. For example, one study found that online job openings receive an average of 250+ resumes for each listing; IT openings receive an average of 386. That’s 386 different candidates to sift through for one open position!

Clearly, if you’re a hiring manager, you have your work cut out for you. The good news is that you can make a beneficial decision for your company by paying attention to six important things when reviewing candidate resumes. Let’s discuss these, one by one.

1. Progression in Work History

One key factor to examine in a resume is whether the candidate has demonstrated progression over the course of their career. In other words, have they become more proficient and experienced in their work, or have they plateaued? You want a candidate who will grow with your company, and learn new skills along the way.

Some indications of progression include promotions, awards, and success stories the candidate may share. You can’t always evaluate a candidate based on results alone. However, the inclusion or absence of such markers may tell you a lot about the professionalism of the person you’re looking at. 

2. Longevity

Longevity is certainly a vital hiring component for many IT positions. This is especially true for ones that require a baseline level of experience (obviously, longevity is closely correlated with experience). When reviewing candidate resumes, you’ll want to look for someone with at least two years of work experience in the particular field under consideration, if not longer. 

Of course, longevity itself doesn’t necessarily denote a good hire. For example, it’s a good idea to see whether the candidate worked several short-term contracts, or a few long-term ones. Hopping from one contract to the next may indicate a lack of satisfactory performance, at least from the perspective of previous employers. On the other hand, a candidate who’s had one role at the same company for many years may be both more experienced and less adaptable than other applicants.

3. Education and Certifications

Depending on the opening, educational credentials may be “icing on the cake” for a candidate, or absolutely necessary in order to land the job. For software engineering roles, school degrees may not be essential. Focus on if the candidate has worked on similar projects in the past and is proficient with the same platforms and tools in your company’s tech stack.

“Functional/business related” roles, however, are a different story. When hiring for roles like PM or Scrum Master, you’ll need to carefully vet the educational background and certification(s) of each candidate. Some common IT certifications that you may need to see include:

  • PMP certification (for project managers)
  • Scrum Master certification
  • PROSCI certification
  • Cloud certification
  • Security certification
  • Network certification

4. Skills

Soft skills are an important asset for any job candidate to have, no matter the industry. In addition, many (if not most) IT roles demand proficiency in certain hard skills, such as programming or data migration. If the role under consideration requires specific skills, you’ll want to find a candidate that matches those parameters. 

Examine the candidate’s “Skills” section and work history on their resume. Be as precise as possible. For example, if you’re hiring for a web developer role using the ASP.NET framework, then a candidate with a strong background in Microsoft Visual Studio will be more attractive than one with years of experience in PHP programming.

Of course, if you’re hiring for a managerial role, you may need to look for a candidate with strong soft skills, or both soft and hard skills — i.e., someone who can analyze and solve problems, but also motivate team members to deliver their best work.

5. Accomplishments

In an IT context, metrics and KPIs play a huge role in identifying qualified candidates. You may need to ask yourself: “Has this candidate finished projects, either single-handedly or as part of a team? If so, what was the impact of those projects? Can the candidate repeat their success with our company?” Some keywords to look for on the candidate’s resume include “delivered,” “integrated,” and “converted.”

6. Cultural Fit

Cultural fit is something that you may not be able to gauge from a resume alone. However, it is a key factor to pay attention to throughout the hiring process. A wrong cultural fit can result in significant losses, and the need to hire yet another person within a year or less. A good cultural fit can make your company more internally collaborative and externally competitive.

When you are hiring (especially for a full-time position), it’s important to not only consider a candidate’s resume, but also their ability to fit in with your organization and do their job effectively. In fact, you may want to consider hiring less experienced people and investing in their training, provided they give evidence that they can grow with your company. As business expert Jim Collins once said: “Get the right people on the bus, the right people in the right seats, and the wrong people off the bus, then we’ll figure out how to take it someplace great.”

Reviewing Candidate Resumes Is Just a Start

Finally, remember that while resumes are important, the candidates you’re looking at are so much more than their resumes. Their skill set and experience is only the start of their potential value to your company. If you’d like to learn more about how to source high-quality IT talent that will take your business to the next level, reach out to our team at The Doyle Group today.

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