Résumés and applications should give the hiring manager a good idea as to what the candidate has done and is capable of doing. As the hiring manager, you are looking for skills, knowledge, abilities, qualifications, and experience that are pertinent to the available job position.
Red Flags should not be a 100% “deal breaker”. Some candidates will have valid reasons for what are considered to be red flags. These red flags should be noted and explored in the form of follow-up questions during the initial phone contact and/or interview process.
Candidates who submit a résumé or application from their current employer’s email account are most likely spending working time on personal business. Do you really want to “inherit” an employee who does this? Enough said. The only exception to this “red flag” is if the candidate is currently employed within some level of the organization and is being considered for an internal position. If the candidate submits their resume or application via fax, they could (in some cases) have limited computer skills. If the application is completed off-site, it could have possibly been completed by someone other than the applicant. The candidate must submit an application for employment in addition to their resume prior to being interviewed.
This is considered the initial “weeding out” process. Always begin reviewing the résumé or application alongside the job description for the available position. This will ensure that you are focusing on the experience each candidate possesses. Pick out three to five keywords from the job description and scan the résumé or application for those keywords to narrow your selection. Scan each résumé or application to see if anything stands out. If the candidate didn’t list pertinent information as it relates to the minimum qualifications of the job, you may omit them from consideration for the job position. If the job position requires a license, degree, experience that is not reflected on the résumé or application, you need to make the decision as to whether to make a phone call to the candidate to request additional information in the early stages of résumé or application review or to omit them from consideration all together. Here are a couple of examples that may help give one candidate an edge over another in the review process. Does the candidate have a history of advancement including more responsibility and challenge in each subsequent position? Does the candidate have experience working at a company of similar size? Does the candidate have the correct industry experience? If this person applied directly for the position, would it be a significant drop in responsibility? Is the person over qualified? If so, are they willing to accept a much lower salary? These other factors are best used to further evaluate candidates already deemed to meet the basic qualification. They serve to initially prioritize the next phase of the recruitment process, which is to make initial contact with the candidates.
Unexplained or multiple gaps in employment are a red flag for an employer. Job seekers have gaps of employment in their résumé or application either by choice or circumstances beyond their control. A potential employer needs to watch for such gaps and inquire about what the applicant was doing during that time. That being said, with the tough economy, there are still qualified candidates who will still have gaps of employment. All gaps in employment need to be explained individually. Pay special attention to how the dates are listed. If an applicant only lists the month and year as a range for employment, there could be a longer gap there than you think. For example, if an applicant says they left a job in January, 2011 and started another job in February, 2011 it doesn’t look like a substantial gap to most hiring managers right away. However, you can interpret this as anywhere from one week to eight weeks. For example, if an applicant left a job on January 28, 2011 and started another job on February 7, 2011, that would reflect a one-week gap in employment. On the other hand, if an applicant left a job on January 3, 2011 and started another job on February 28, 2011, that would reflect an eight week gap in employment. As such, you should never allow a candidate to list years only (i.e.; 2005 – 2011 then the next job is 2011 – Present). Requiring the candidate to list specific dates will eliminate any confusion.
Pay close attention to the duration of each job held. Trends of jobs held less than six months to a year might signify that the applicant is a “job hopper”. Establish whether each of these “short-term” positions were temporary to begin with or whether something happened to shorten the duration of the job.
Be mindful of decreasing job responsibilities. Pay attention to the type of employer, job titles, and responsibilities in this regard. It may be that the applicant has had shifts in their career path “on purpose”, but that is something that needs to be discussed during the interview if a repetitive pattern is noticed.
If education is completely omitted from the résumé or application, it may indicate that the candidate lacks appropriate education for the position for which they are applying. Question to ask: Did you either graduate from high school or pass the High School Equivalency Test? If so, where from? Partial degree / coursework could suggest that the applicant has a hard time finishing what they start. If the candidate didn’t finish school, inquire as to why.
Attention to detail such as appropriate spelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence construction, and tense inconsistencies set a candidate aside from the pack. Aversions such as typos and tense inconsistencies (worked on this, working on that) reflect carelessness and can be an indicator of the quality of work you can expect from that candidate. So, if you are reviewing a résumé or application that is careless or sloppy, you may end up with a careless, sloppy, or otherwise unconcerned employee. If the candidate didn’t bother to edit their résumé or application, it’s probably safe to say that they probably won’t proofread the work they turn into you as an employee.
Address each one individually.
Ask what prompted these moves. It could be that the candidate is “running from the law”, they have been in a job that required relocation, or some other reason. Allow the candidate to explain each move during the interview. As the hiring manager, it is up to you to establish that the candidate can maintain employment.
Your job as the hiring manager is to determine whether or not the applicant has the capability of performing the essential functions of the job they are being considered for. These factors should never be used to screen out OR hire someone. Pictures don’t happen as frequently, but should be immediately “cut out” of the resume. Political and religious affiliations are often times listed on the résumé or application, but should be disregarded as part of the initial screening and review process. For example, when screening the candidate, avoid any communication that is not directly related to the candidate’s qualifications for the job: Do not ask the applicant’s political party preference (democratic, republican, independent, etc.) . Do not have a discussion about current or past politics to include who the applicant voted for or how they think the current U.S. President is doing. Do not inquire about religious affiliations / beliefs, church attendance, etc. Never ask, “what church do you go to?”, “are you catholic…baptist?”, etc. If the position requires weekend work, you can explain the work schedule to the applicant and ask if they can meet the job’s attendance requirements. Sometimes, an applicant lists the year of high school graduation on their resume ( which will in most cases indicate their approximate age ). This information is not allowed to be used in a hiring determination. Do not ask questions about the candidate’s family status, current health, or past medical history. You can have the applicant review the job description then ask, “Is there anything that you know of that would prevent you from performing the essential functions of this job position?”.
This tool is a sample of how you can compare “apples to apples” when considering minimum qualifications.
Résumés or applications that come through electronically may come through formatted incorrectly. You may need to make changes on your end to view the résumé or application in its entirety or get the résumé or application to print correctly. Don’t always assume that it is the candidate’s error. Contact your top candidates for an initial telephone screening prior to scheduling an in-person interview. Trust your instincts!
Resume & Application Review Process
Résumé andApplication Review How to identify “Red Flags” during the screening process.
What is a “Red Flag”? A sign of warning or problem. Indicates trouble or “danger” ahead. Provokes an irritated response.
Method of Submission What is the source of the résumé or application? Personal email account Current employer’s email account Facsimile (Fax) Inquire about computer skills Application completed off-site? Must complete and submit an employment application in addition to their résumé
Initial Review Process For “weeding out” unqualified candidates Job Description Allows you to focus on minimum qualifications and experience Choose 3-5 key words from the job description Questions to ask yourself during the review Does the candidate have: History of advancement & more responsibility in each subsequent position? Industry experience? Experience working at a company of similar size? If this person applied directly for the position, would it be a significant drop in responsibility / salary? Is the person overqualified? If so, are they willing to accept a much lower salary?
Employment Gaps Unexplained / Multiple Gaps in Employment By choice By circumstances beyond their control Date Ranges Year Month / Year Month / Date / Year
Lack of Longevity Review duration of each position held. Less than a year Temporary job? Reason for leaving
Career Plateau or “Gone Backwards” Decreasing job responsibilities Types of employers Job titles Were shifts in career path “on purpose” or a choice?
Education Omitted? May not meet the minimum qualifications in regards to education. Didn’t finish degree? May have trouble finishing what they start Ask what stood in their way of completing
Attention to Detail / Mistakes Spelling, Grammar, Punctuation, Sentence Construction, Tense Inconsistencies, and Typos Reflect carelessness Indicator of the quality of work you can expect May not proofread work on-the-job Too much / too little information Get to the point! No blanks on applications Résumés shouldn’t read like a book
Reasons for LeavingResponse Question(s) to AskWork Ran Out Was this a temporary job? Did the job start as a temp job?Laid Off What reason were you given for the layoff? How much notice were you given prior to your last day?Moved Where did you move from / to? Did you resign from this position with adequate notice? If so, how much notice did you give?Fired What was the reason for being fired? Did you agree / disagree with the reason given?Terminated Why were you terminated? Did you agree / disagree with the reason you were given?Quit What lead to your decision to quit the job? When you quit, did you have another job to move into?Retired Why are you re-entering the workforce after retirement?Medical Reasons Can you perform the essential functions of the job you are being considered for?
Multiple Moves to Different States Ask what prompted moves Relocation due to employment “Running” from the law
Inappropriate Information(Information that May Not be Considered) Picture (headshot) Race / color Sex / gender National origin Age (date of birth) Political affiliations Religious affiliations / beliefs Family status (married, etc.) Health history / conditions Sexual orientation
Screening Idea Grid of Minimum Qualifications Applicant Name Licensures Highest Level of Years of Related Computer # of Jobs Held in Education Experience Experience Past 5 YearsJohn Doe RN, BSN BS in Nursing 5 Full-Time Microsoft Word & 2 3 Part-Time ExcelSally Sue NONE High School 1 Full Time Microsoft Outlook 1Mary Ellen PENDING High School NONE Microsoft Word 0 BSN Pending
Tips and Other Considerations Formatting issues Conduct telephone interview as part of pre- screening process. Trust your instincts!