8 Elements You Should Look For On Every Resume Jonathan Herrick Anyone running a small business can tell you what an intimate and daunting act it is to hire someone new. You’re hiring for talent and skill, of course, but you’re also trying to make that perfect culture fit so you don’t have any conflicts with your current staff. No pressure, but if you make a bad decision, you’ll have to live with the consequences and most likely be forced into a difficult conversation—which will lead you to the beginning of the cycle all over again. So how do you mitigate that outcome? Sure, you know on the surface what you’re looking for in a resume, but that’s not enough. Resumes tell stories. And unless you know how to read them, you’re missing out on half of what they have to say. Look for a logical progression. Consider your candidate’s last few jobs. Have they progressed in their job titles? Have they taken on more responsibility? Have they been promoted? Sometimes, at a certain point, people will plateau, shifting from job to job at the same level. That’s not necessarily a bad thing—it means they might excel at their duties—but in a small-business environment, you’ll generally want self-starters who can thrive and exceed expectations. Look for hard data, not fluff. Compare the two following sentences: “I was in charge of optimizing our website for conversions with ROI goals as per strict KPI metrics,” versus, “I grew our website traffic by more than 50% year-over-year for three years, which helped earn me the ABC Business Award for Excellence.” See the difference? One means something; the other is bloated junk. Look for consistency online. Of course you’ll search for them on Google; this goes without saying. But cross-referencing their submitted resumes with their resumes on LinkedIn or Monster is a useful step. Often one will have specific vocational information the others lack—it’s not unusual to tailor your resume to a prospective employee—but you could also find some contradictory dates that raise red flags. Going a step beyond to look at their other social platforms is also handy. If they’re dumb enough to rant about how much they hate their job publicly online, you shouldn’t be dumb enough to hire them. (Bonus tip: You should also look at who they follow and who follows them online. You can sometimes learn more about a person that way than by looking at their actual tweets.) Look for keywords if you’re swamped. Overwhelmed by all the info in a sea of CVs? It’s easy to get lost in over-analyzing each candidate. Professional recruiters will whittle down applicants by scanning or even searching for certain keywords in their resume with the help of applicant tracking software. These can be a skillset, software, tool or role that you know your ideal candidate will have. Look for logistical problems. If their work and education experience are all in one city such as Chicago, are you sure they would be willing to relocate to Boston, or St. Louis for example? Are you willing to help pay relocation costs for the right candidate? If you iron out those details internally before you start looking for candidates, it will save you valuable time in the resume review process. And the last thing you want to do is get to an offer stage, only for the candidate to get cold feet about moving. Look at their portfolio, if applicable. If hiring someone who’s going to have some creative license, you’ll want to see their past work. If they’re clever, they’ll embed links to particular works in the PDF version of their resume, so you don’t have to go hunting independently for it. This goes without saying for writers, illustrators, photographers, designers and artists, but you can also look and ask for portfolios of past projects, successful proposals and business websites. Look for employment gaps. This is not necessarily a red flag, but it’s something you can search out and inquire more about in person. Maybe they quit their job to live in a van and drive around the United States for six months, or maybe they got fired and had trouble finding new work. Regardless, it’s a critical part of their story you’ll want to explore. Look at their most recent job role. Does it match the position for which you’re hiring? If they’re a current software engineer applying for a job as your sales manager, there’s a disconnect that needs to be addressed. Are they unhappy at their current job, or are they looking for a change in direction? If resumes tell stories, then working for you will be their next chapter. Considering their most recent role will help you determine whether that chapter will be any good. Hiring can be a daunting task for a small business owner running a small shop. There are many things to take into consideration, but if you can check these eight elements off the list, you’re on the right track to hiring your next rockstar.