Judging a Resume by Its Cover

Judging a Resume by Its Cover

By MarkD

(Perceptions of a Flight Risk)

“Never judge someone by the way he looks or a book by the way it’s covered; for inside those tattered pages, there’s a lot to be discovered.”  – Stephen Cosgrove

We all deal with it.  Whether you are a hiring manager or a recruiter, a large part of your job is sifting through hundreds of resumes.  You’ve become a master at scanning for what you’re looking for.  You’ve got your wants, must haves, and your deal breakers.  There has to be a way to thin the herd.  If you’re looking for a Sage Intacct Controller position, someone with 1-2 years of accounting experience might not be enough.  Or perhaps you have a time zone specific need.  While remote work has opened the playing field for potential candidates, if you find an Acumatica Consultant in New York, that might not work for your VAR practice in California.  Today, we’re going to talk about the potential flight risks.  You know the one: they have 3 or 4 recent jobs in the last 5 years.  You’re concerned that if you hire them and spend the time and money on training them, they’ll be gone in less than a year.  While that can be a valid concern, this blog will address why that shouldn’t always be a deal breaker while tackling the daunting work of judging a resume by its cover.

Explaining the Gaps & Shorts

Let’s take a look at the scenario I just mentioned above.  There is a candidate who looks to have all the things you’re looking for, but they’ve had 4 jobs in the last 5 years.  Yes, that should absolutely be recognized, acknowledged, and explained.  But, that shouldn’t be the huge red flag of dismissal necessarily.  

John is a loyal employee.  He started as an intern at ABC Consulting and learned the ins and outs of Acumatica ERP.  He was quickly promoted to Implementation Consultant.  Then, in 2020, after 4 years of work, he was laid off due to the pandemic.  Not one to sit around, John teamed up with a buddy for a tech startup and helped them implement Sage ERP.  The VAR that assisted with the implementation was impressed with how quickly John picked up on the software and offered him a full-time position.  He had only been with the startup for 6 months, but with the software implemented, John’s buddy didn’t need him anymore.  So he began working with XYZ Consulting as an Implementation Consultant of Sage ERP.  Unfortunately, they were acquired by a larger company and their first course of action was to let anyone go who had been there less than a year.  Kind of a jerk move, but it happens.  Being the resourceful one that he is, John decided to do some independent consulting work.  He’s working on his 2nd successful project in the last 6 months, but that’s when you found him.  Looking at his resume, if you just glance at John’s tenure, he looks like a flight risk.  But he’s not.

Let’s explore another possibility.  In the previous situation, John really had no control over the circumstances, but made the best of bad situations.  What if someone chooses to leave?  Mary started as a clerk in a small accounting firm while she got her CPA.  Less than a year later, with her CPA credentials, she had an opportunity to go to a larger accounting firm as an Accountant for more money.  After a year of work, hitting all her goals, Mary was not given a raise and felt unappreciated.  She left for another Accounting position where she also started to learn Sage Intacct ERP.  She asked if she could expand her position to include System Administration of their ERP system.  She was denied this opportunity, so she found a firm that would encourage her growth.  Those are all very valid reasons for leaving an employer, but it might be hard to glean all that from a resume.  What is easy to see are the dates of employment.  And they don’t look good at a glance on Mary’s resume.  But don’t you think she would still be with that first firm if they gave her a raise and a promotion and supported her growth?  

Recruiters and Your Company

It’s not uncommon to turn to a professional recruiting company to help sift through the piles of resumes, so you only see the best of the best qualified candidates.  Recruiters face the same challenges of having to find the right qualifications and exclude the red flags from hundreds of resumes.  If you’re working with a great recruiting company (like DyNexus Recruiting & Staffing [shameless plug]), then your candidate submissions will also come with a brief summary of why the recruiter feels the candidate is qualified for the position.  They should also explain gaps and shorter terms in resumes.

One challenge I would like to present to you is to take a look at your own company.  Are you struggling to retain your own employees?  Is that a contributing factor to raising red flags at other potential job hoppers?  Do you think it’s just a symptom of a lazy generation?  Well, are you in touch with what employees are demanding these days?  We’ve written several articles on this topic.  Most recently, we published “How to Avoid the Great Resignation” back in November.  According to Commonwealth Payroll & HR, here’s the top things Job Seekers are still looking for:

  • Hybrid or remote work schedules
  • A company culture that supports collaboration, teamwork, and employee engagement
  • Health and mental support including PTO, acting with empathy, and creating a safe environment
  • Doing a job that means something
  • Opportunities for growth and advancement
  • And, of course, better pay and benefits

So how does your company stack up against the competition?  What are you doing to make your company a desired place to work?  The challenge I’m presenting to you is this: be the place where your employees don’t want to leave.

Clearly, whether you’re a hiring manager or a recruiter, one of the toughest parts of the job is sifting through hundreds of resumes.  In a moment, you must determine whether a candidate is worth reaching out to, or if you should pass them over.  Again, there are many valid reasons to reject a resume.   If your Acumatica Practice requires in person office hours, you need someone who can commute to the office.  If your Sage Intacct Practice has the prerequisite of an Accounting Degree and the candidate doesn’t have one, that’s a no-brainer.  And it’s really tempting to toss aside resumes that have 3-4 jobs listed in the last 5 years.  You’re right to be cautious. While that can be a valid concern, but that shouldn’t always be a deal breaker while tackling the daunting work of judging a resume by its cover.

Sign Up For Our Job Alerts

Tell Us More About What You’re Looking For.

Give us a chance to learn more about the next hire you are looking to make.