Identifying the Best Candidates – What I Look for in a Resume
By Sandy Charet
The information I need: It should go without saying that a resume must include the basics: Where you worked, when you worked there, your title, what you were responsible for. Also, your address, phone number and email address. Resumes of the best candidates have all the information I need.
The core skills are identified: You probably do many things and have many skills. But I want to know what you really excel at. You may also have expertise in areas that are not primary to your job but they’re valued and important so make sure to note them. It’s important know your innate talents as well as your skills. But if all your skills are prefaced with laudatory adjectives, it’s the same as none. Amazing, but many resumes do this. I want to know the key skills that your team can’t do without.
Clear and simple explanations: As a professional communicator it should be a piece of cake for you to explain what you do so I understand. Please don’t assume I know the acronyms for the different sectors of your company, or that one employer listed is the parent of another employer. You can’t say everything…so keep it simple. You can always follow up with details or additional information (relevant of course) – in fact I can’t think of a better way to keep the conversation going. I always get a little thrill when I’m interviewing someone, and I ask questions about simple things on the resume only to learn that it’s the tip of the iceberg in terms of the person’s knowledge and passion. This is probably the biggest indicator to me that I’m talking to someone very special. It’s much better than trying to go into it on the resume. In fact, the best candidates are successful in their current role and don’t have the time to explain every detail.
A progression that is upward and sensible: Titles mean different things at different companies, so I’m not terribly concerned with that. But I need to see that you’re taking more responsibility or that the scope of your work has changed or increased. If a move doesn’t make sense (less impressive company, lower title, less responsibility, off track, etc.) then the best candidates will use the cover letter to explain it. Then, you become in my eyes a great find…because I have the key that unlocks the answer to why you’re the best catch for my client – a diamond in the rough or a hidden gem -someone great who’s not spoiled or over confident.
Sandy Charet is the President of Charet & Associates, a search firm that specializes in PR and communications. Sandy has been placing mid to senior level communicators for over 25 years.