June 1, 2023
Hiring & Recruiting
Discover the vital role of resumes in hiring. Learn how HR professionals and hiring managers evaluate qualifications and select top candidates.

What is a Resume?

A resume is a concise and targeted document that provides a summary of an individual's education, work experience, skills, and qualifications. It serves as a professional marketing tool for job seekers, presenting their relevant background and achievements to potential employers. Resumes are typically submitted as part of a job application and play a crucial role in the initial screening process.

Importance of Resumes in the Hiring Process

Resumes hold significant importance in the hiring process for several reasons:

  1. First Impression: Resumes create the first impression of a candidate for HR professionals and hiring managers. They provide a snapshot of a candidate's qualifications, skills, and experiences, helping employers assess their suitability for a position.
  2. Initial Screening: Resumes serve as a primary tool for initial screening. They enable HR professionals and hiring managers to quickly assess the qualifications and relevance of candidates based on their education, work experience, and skills.
  3. Efficient Evaluation: Resumes allow for efficient evaluation of a large number of applicants. They provide a standardized format that enables a systematic comparison of candidates based on specific criteria, such as job requirements and qualifications.
  4. Selection of Qualified Candidates: Resumes help identify candidates who possess the necessary skills and qualifications for a particular role. By reviewing resumes, HR professionals and hiring managers can shortlist candidates who are most likely to succeed in the position.
  5. Showcasing Accomplishments: Resumes provide a platform for candidates to highlight their achievements, demonstrating their abilities and potential value to an organization. Accomplishments outlined in resumes help differentiate candidates and provide insight into their past performance.

Role of HR and Hiring Managers in Reviewing Resumes

HR professionals and hiring managers play a critical role in reviewing resumes and selecting qualified candidates. Their responsibilities include:

  1. Job Requirement Analysis: HR professionals and hiring managers thoroughly review the job description and requirements to understand the key qualifications, skills, and experience needed for the position. This analysis helps in assessing the alignment between candidates' resumes and the job requirements.
  2. Screening and Selection: HR professionals and hiring managers conduct an initial screening of resumes to identify candidates who meet the minimum qualifications and possess relevant experience. They evaluate resumes based on factors such as education, work history, skills, achievements, and potential cultural fit with the organization.
  3. Identifying Promising Candidates: Through resume review, HR professionals and hiring managers identify candidates who exhibit potential and align well with the desired qualifications and requirements. They focus on selecting candidates who are the best fit for the organization's goals and values.
  4. Collaboration with Hiring Team: HR professionals and hiring managers collaborate with the hiring team to gather diverse perspectives and insights during the resume evaluation process. They discuss resumes, share feedback, and collectively determine which candidates should proceed to the next stages of the hiring process.
  5. Fair and Objective Assessment: HR professionals and hiring managers ensure fairness and objectivity in evaluating resumes. They strive to minimize bias and make informed decisions based on merit, qualifications, and potential.

The role of HR professionals and hiring managers in reviewing resumes is instrumental in identifying top talent and building a successful workforce. Their expertise and discernment in assessing resumes contribute significantly to the overall effectiveness of the hiring process.

Key Elements of a Resume

Contact Information

The contact information section of a resume is where candidates provide their essential details, allowing you to reach out to them for further consideration. It typically includes:

  • Full name: The candidate's legal first and last name.
  • Phone number: The best contact number to reach the candidate.
  • Email address: A professional email address that candidates regularly check.
  • Mailing address: Optional, but it can be useful for certain positions.
  • LinkedIn profile: Increasingly important, as it showcases a candidate's professional network and online presence.

Professional Summary or Objective Statement

The professional summary or objective statement is a concise paragraph that provides an overview of the candidate's qualifications and career goals. It serves as an introduction, capturing the reader's attention and highlighting the candidate's unique value proposition. The professional summary is most effective for candidates with relevant work experience, while the objective statement is suitable for entry-level applicants or those seeking a career change.

Work Experience

The work experience section outlines the candidate's previous employment history and demonstrates their relevant skills and accomplishments. Each position listed within this section typically includes:

  • Job title: The candidate's official job title in each role.
  • Company name: The name of the organization they worked for.
  • Dates of employment: The duration of their employment, including the start and end dates.
  • Job description and achievements: A description of their responsibilities and notable accomplishments in each role. Bullet points are commonly used to provide a clear and concise overview.


The education section of a resume provides information about the candidate's academic background and qualifications. It generally includes:

  • Degrees and certifications: The degrees and certifications obtained by the candidate.
  • Educational institutions: The names of the universities, colleges, or schools they attended.
  • Dates of attendance: The timeframe during which they pursued their education.

Skills and Competencies

The skills and competencies section highlights the candidate's relevant abilities, proficiencies, and areas of expertise. This section can encompass both hard skills (e.g., programming languages, data analysis) and soft skills (e.g., communication, leadership). Candidates often list their skills in bullet point format, making it easier for you to quickly identify their strengths.

Additional Sections (Optional)

While not mandatory, additional sections can provide valuable insights into a candidate's background and qualifications. Some optional sections to consider include:

  • Volunteer Experience: Demonstrates the candidate's commitment to community involvement and relevant transferable skills.
  • Professional Associations and Memberships: Highlights the candidate's involvement in industry-related organizations and their dedication to professional growth.
  • Publications and Presentations: Showcases the candidate's contributions to their field through published works or public speaking engagements.
  • Awards and Honors: Recognizes the candidate's exceptional achievements and outstanding performance.

Resume Formats and Styles

Chronological Resume

The chronological resume format is the most commonly used and preferred format by HR professionals and hiring managers. It presents the candidate's work experience in reverse-chronological order, starting with their most recent position. This format allows you to assess the candidate's career progression and evaluate their stability and growth within previous roles.

Functional Resume

The functional resume format focuses on the candidate's skills and accomplishments rather than their chronological work history. It is ideal for candidates with gaps in employment, career changers, or those with diverse skill sets. This format allows you to assess the candidate's transferrable skills and qualifications without being influenced by their work history.

Combination Resume

The combination resume format, as the name suggests, combines elements of both the chronological and functional formats. It provides a comprehensive overview of the candidate's work experience while highlighting their key skills and achievements. This format is beneficial when the candidate wants to showcase a strong combination of relevant experience and skills.

Targeted Resume

A targeted resume is tailored specifically to a particular job opening or industry. It emphasizes the candidate's qualifications, skills, and experiences that align closely with the requirements of the target position. This format helps you quickly assess a candidate's suitability for a specific role and their level of interest in the position.

Visual Resume

Visual resumes utilize graphic elements, such as infographics or charts, to present information in a visually appealing and engaging manner. These resumes are often used by candidates in creative fields, such as design or marketing. While they can be visually impressive, it's important to ensure that the content and information remain clear and easy to understand.

Infographic Resume

Similar to visual resumes, infographic resumes use visual elements to convey information. However, infographic resumes specifically employ the use of charts, icons, and illustrations to present key details about the candidate's qualifications and achievements. They can be an effective way to showcase creativity and stand out in visually-oriented industries.

Best Practices for Writing a Resume

Tailoring the Resume to the Job Description

One of the most crucial aspects of resume writing is tailoring the content to match the specific job description. By carefully reviewing the job requirements and incorporating relevant keywords, skills, and achievements, candidates can demonstrate their suitability for the role. As an HR professional or hiring manager, pay attention to how well candidates align their qualifications with the job description.

Using Action Verbs and Quantifiable Achievements

Strong, action-oriented language is essential in resume writing. Candidates should use action verbs to describe their accomplishments and responsibilities, such as "implemented," "managed," or "developed." Additionally, quantifiable achievements, such as "increased sales by 20%" or "led a team of 10 employees," provide concrete evidence of a candidate's impact.

Keeping the Resume Concise and Relevant

In a competitive job market, resumes should be concise and focused. Candidates should aim to keep their resumes to one or two pages, depending on their level of experience. Irrelevant or outdated information should be omitted to maintain a clear and impactful document. As an HR professional or hiring manager, appreciate resumes that provide concise and relevant information.

Utilizing Keywords and Buzzwords

Keywords and buzzwords are industry-specific terms or phrases that are relevant to the job at hand. Candidates should incorporate these keywords throughout their resume, especially in the skills and job description sections. As an HR professional or hiring manager, pay attention to the presence of these keywords, as they indicate a candidate's familiarity with industry terminology and requirements.

Proofreading and Formatting Tips

Attention to detail is crucial in resume writing. Candidates should thoroughly proofread their resumes to ensure proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Additionally, formatting should be consistent and visually appealing. Pay attention to the overall structure, font, and margins of the resume, as they contribute to its readability and professionalism.

Including Contact Information and Social Media Profiles

Contact information should be prominently displayed at the top of the resume. Candidates should provide their full name, phone number, email address, and LinkedIn profile. Including a link to their professional social media profiles allows you to gain additional insights into their professional background and online presence.

ATS (Applicant Tracking System) and Resumes

Definition and Purpose of ATS

An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is a software application used by employers to manage and streamline the recruitment process. Its primary purpose is to automate the initial screening and sorting of resumes, allowing HR professionals and hiring managers to efficiently manage a large volume of applicants. ATS systems are designed to scan resumes for keywords, qualifications, and relevant criteria defined by the employer.

How ATS Processes and Filters Resumes

When a candidate submits a resume through an online application system, the ATS parses and analyzes the document based on predetermined criteria. The system uses algorithms to identify keywords, skills, and other relevant information to assess the candidate's suitability for the position. Resumes that meet the predetermined criteria are typically flagged for further review, while others may be automatically rejected.

Optimizing Resumes for ATS

1. Keywords and Phrases

To increase the chances of their resume being selected by an ATS, candidates should strategically incorporate relevant keywords and phrases throughout their document. Here are some tips for optimizing resumes for ATS:

  • Review the job description carefully and identify key terms and skills mentioned.
  • Include industry-specific buzzwords, technical terminology, and acronyms.
  • Use both variations of terms (e.g., "project management" and "project manager").
  • Avoid keyword stuffing or overusing keywords unnaturally.

2. Formatting Considerations

While content is crucial, the formatting of a resume can also impact its ATS compatibility. Here are some formatting considerations to optimize resumes for ATS:

  • Use standard fonts and avoid complex layouts or design elements that may be misinterpreted by the ATS.
  • Stick to a clean and organized structure with clear section headings.
  • Use standard resume file formats, such as .docx or .pdf, as recommended by the employer.
  • Avoid using headers, footers, or graphics that may cause parsing errors.

Balancing ATS Optimization and Human Readability

While it's essential to optimize resumes for ATS, it's equally important to ensure they remain readable and engaging for human reviewers. Achieving a balance between ATS optimization and human readability involves:

  • Ensuring the resume's content is clear, concise, and well-organized.
  • Using a professional tone and proper grammar and spelling.
  • Incorporating relevant achievements, quantifiable results, and specific examples.
  • Making the document visually appealing with appropriate spacing, bullet points, and consistent formatting.

Common Resume Mistakes to Avoid

Spelling and Grammatical Errors

Spelling and grammatical errors can significantly impact the impression a resume makes. Candidates should thoroughly proofread their resumes, use spell-check tools, and consider seeking feedback from others to catch any mistakes. As an HR professional or hiring manager, be aware of the candidate's attention to detail and the overall quality of their written communication.

Including Irrelevant Information

Candidates often make the mistake of including irrelevant or outdated information in their resumes, such as irrelevant work experience, unrelated skills, or irrelevant personal details. Encourage candidates to focus on presenting information that directly aligns with the requirements of the job. As an HR professional or hiring manager, look for resumes that provide concise and relevant information.

Lack of Specificity and Achievements

A common pitfall is the inclusion of vague or generic statements that do not provide tangible evidence of a candidate's accomplishments. Candidates should use specific examples and quantify their achievements whenever possible. As an HR professional or hiring manager, pay attention to the candidate's ability to showcase their unique contributions and demonstrate their value to previous employers.

Poor Formatting and Visual Presentation

Resumes that are poorly formatted, cluttered, or visually unappealing can be challenging to read and comprehend. Candidates should strive for a clean and visually appealing layout that guides the reader's eye and highlights essential information. As an HR professional or hiring manager, consider resumes that are well-structured and visually organized.

Overused Buzzwords and Clichés

Using generic buzzwords and clichés can make a resume sound unoriginal and lackluster. Candidates should aim for authentic and compelling language that showcases their unique qualities and experiences. Encourage them to provide specific details and avoid generic phrases like "team player" or "hard worker." As an HR professional or hiring manager, look for resumes that stand out with fresh and genuine language.

Resume Tips for HR and Hiring Managers

Understanding the Job Requirements

Before reviewing resumes, thoroughly understand the requirements of the job opening. Identify the key skills, qualifications, and experience needed to excel in the role. This understanding will help you evaluate resumes more effectively and identify candidates who closely match the desired criteria.

Scanning Resumes Efficiently

Given the volume of resumes received, developing an efficient resume scanning process is crucial. Here are some tips:

  • Skim through the resume initially to get a sense of the candidate's overall qualifications.
  • Pay attention to the professional summary or objective statement to assess their alignment with the job requirements.
  • Focus on the work experience section, looking for relevant job titles, achievements, and responsibilities.
  • Note any specific skills or certifications mentioned in the resume.

Assessing Relevant Experience and Skills

Evaluate the candidate's work experience and skills in relation to the job requirements. Look for:

  • Consistency in career progression and increasing levels of responsibility.
  • Relevance of previous job titles and industry experience.
  • Alignment of skills and competencies with the desired qualifications.
  • Demonstrated achievements and quantifiable results.

Identifying Red Flags and Discrepancies

During resume review, be mindful of any red flags or discrepancies that may warrant further investigation. Look for:

  • Employment gaps and frequent job changes.
  • Inconsistencies in dates, job titles, or responsibilities.
  • Discrepancies between the resume and other application materials.
  • Lack of clarity or overly vague information.

Collaborating with Hiring Teams and Interviewers

Resume evaluation is often a collaborative effort. Collaborate with other hiring team members and interviewers to gather diverse perspectives and insights. Share feedback and impressions to make informed decisions during the candidate selection process.

Resume Screening Process

Once you have received a pool of resumes, the screening process begins. This involves reviewing each resume to determine which candidates will proceed to the next stage of the hiring process. Here are the key steps involved in the resume screening process:

Initial Resume Screening

During the initial screening, you will conduct a quick review of each resume to identify candidates who meet the basic qualifications and requirements for the position. This is typically done by comparing the information on the resume to the job description and criteria outlined by the hiring team. Focus on the following:

  • Relevant work experience: Look for candidates who have experience in similar roles or industries.
  • Required skills and qualifications: Identify candidates who possess the essential skills and qualifications mentioned in the job description.
  • Education and certifications: Verify that candidates meet the minimum educational requirements and possess any necessary certifications.

Shortlisting Candidates

After the initial screening, you can create a shortlist of candidates who stand out based on their qualifications, experience, and skills. These are the individuals who will move forward in the hiring process and be considered for interviews. When shortlisting candidates, consider the following:

  • Match with job requirements: Ensure that candidates closely align with the specific needs of the position.
  • Relevance of experience: Look for candidates who have relevant experience and accomplishments that demonstrate their ability to succeed in the role.
  • Strong skills and competencies: Identify candidates who possess the key skills and competencies required for the job.

Reviewing Cover Letters

While not all candidates may submit cover letters, those who do provide valuable insights into their motivations and suitability for the position. Review cover letters to gain a deeper understanding of the candidate's interest in the role, their communication skills, and any additional relevant information not included in the resume. Look for:

  • Personalized and well-written content: A cover letter that is tailored to the specific position and showcases the candidate's writing abilities.
  • Alignment with the job requirements: Look for candidates who articulate how their skills and experience make them an ideal fit for the role.
  • Attention to detail: Assess the candidate's ability to follow application instructions and present themselves professionally.

Interviewing Selected Candidates

Once you have shortlisted candidates based on their resumes and cover letters, the next step is to conduct interviews to further assess their qualifications and fit for the position. The resume screening process narrows down the candidate pool to the most promising individuals who will move on to the interview stage.

Applicant Background Checks

Applicant background checks are an important part of the hiring process. These checks verify the accuracy of information provided by candidates on their resumes and assess their suitability for employment. Here are some key aspects of applicant background checks:

Importance of Background Checks

Background checks help ensure that candidates possess the qualifications and character necessary for the position. They provide employers with a level of confidence and reduce the risk of potential issues or fraudulent information. Background checks are particularly crucial when hiring for positions that involve financial responsibilities, working with vulnerable populations, or dealing with sensitive data.

Types of Background Checks

Common types of background checks include:

  • Criminal background checks: These checks verify if candidates have a criminal history and assess any potential risks associated with their past behavior.
  • Employment verification: This process confirms the accuracy of the candidate's employment history, including job titles, dates of employment, and reasons for leaving previous positions.
  • Education verification: Education checks validate the candidate's educational qualifications, such as degrees earned, institutions attended, and dates of attendance.
  • Reference checks: Reference checks involve contacting individuals listed as references to gain insights into the candidate's character, work ethic, and abilities.

Legal Considerations and Privacy Issues

When conducting background checks, it is essential to comply with relevant laws and regulations, such as data protection and privacy laws. Obtain the candidate's consent before conducting any checks and ensure that the process adheres to applicable legal requirements. Safeguard the confidentiality and security of the information obtained during the background check process.

Verifying Education and Employment History

When verifying education and employment history, contact the respective institutions and companies to validate the information provided by the candidate. Confirm details such as degrees earned, dates of attendance, job titles, and dates of employment. This step helps ensure that candidates accurately represent their educational qualifications and work experience.

Checking References and Recommendations

Contacting references provided by the candidate allows you to gain insights into their past performance, work ethic, and abilities. Ask reference providers specific questions related to the candidate's skills, reliability, teamwork, and overall suitability for the position. Reference checks provide valuable information that helps in making informed hiring decisions.

Resume Diversity and Inclusivity

Diversity and inclusivity in resumes are crucial aspects of modern recruitment practices. By embracing diversity, employers foster an inclusive workplace and ensure equal opportunities for all candidates. Here's what you need to know about promoting diversity and inclusivity in resumes:

Addressing Bias in Resumes

Unconscious bias can inadvertently influence the evaluation of resumes, leading to unfair judgments and limiting opportunities for qualified candidates. To address bias in resumes:

  • Implement blind resume screening techniques that remove identifying information, such as names and gender, to focus solely on qualifications.
  • Train HR professionals and hiring managers on recognizing and mitigating bias during the resume review process.
  • Encourage diversity within the hiring team to ensure multiple perspectives and reduce the impact of individual biases.

Unconscious Bias and Its Impact on Hiring

Unconscious bias refers to the automatic and unintentional mental associations and stereotypes that affect decision-making. It can influence how resumes are evaluated and impact hiring outcomes. Common types of unconscious biases include affinity bias, halo effect, and confirmation bias. Recognizing and mitigating these biases is crucial to ensure fair and inclusive hiring practices.

Strategies for Promoting Diversity in Resumes

To promote diversity and inclusivity in resumes, consider the following strategies:

  • Use gender-neutral language and avoid gender-specific assumptions when describing roles and responsibilities.
  • Encourage applicants to showcase a diverse range of experiences and perspectives in their resumes.
  • Adopt diverse sourcing strategies to attract candidates from various backgrounds.
  • Implement diversity initiatives and partnerships with organizations focused on underrepresented groups.
  • Set diversity goals and track progress to ensure continuous improvement.

Inclusive Language and Terminology

Using inclusive language in resumes demonstrates an employer's commitment to diversity and equality. Inclusive language acknowledges and respects individuals from different backgrounds, abilities, gender identities, and cultural experiences. Avoid terms that may perpetuate stereotypes or exclude certain groups. Instead, choose inclusive language that reflects the diversity of the workforce and creates an inclusive environment.

Resume Trends and Emerging Technologies

The landscape of resume writing is continuously evolving, driven by technological advancements and changing recruitment practices. Staying abreast of these trends and leveraging emerging technologies can enhance the effectiveness of resume evaluation. Here are some notable trends and technologies in resume writing:

AI-Driven Resume Screening

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing the resume screening process. AI-powered tools can automate the initial screening and evaluation of resumes, saving time and effort. These tools use machine learning algorithms to analyze resumes, identify relevant keywords, and assess candidate suitability. AI-driven resume screening enables more efficient processing of large volumes of resumes, allowing HR professionals and hiring managers to focus on higher-value tasks.

Video Resumes and Digital Portfolios

Video resumes and digital portfolios offer candidates an opportunity to showcase their personality, communication skills, and work samples in a dynamic and engaging manner. Video resumes are short videos, typically one to two minutes in length, where candidates present themselves and their qualifications. Digital portfolios provide an online showcase of a candidate's work, including projects, designs, or writing samples. Incorporating video resumes and digital portfolios into the evaluation process can provide additional insights beyond the traditional resume format.

Applicant Tracking System Advancements

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) continue to evolve, incorporating new features and functionalities to enhance resume processing and candidate management. Modern ATS platforms offer improved user interfaces, advanced analytics, and integration with other recruitment tools. These advancements streamline the resume screening process, provide valuable insights into hiring metrics, and enhance collaboration among hiring teams.

Online Resume Builders and Templates

Online resume builders and templates have gained popularity as they offer user-friendly interfaces and professionally designed templates that can be customized to create polished resumes. These tools provide guidance on resume structure, formatting, and content organization. They are particularly useful for candidates who may not have extensive resume-writing experience. As an HR professional or hiring manager, you may encounter resumes created using online resume builders, so familiarize yourself with their features and evaluate the content and relevance of the information provided.


In conclusion, understanding the key elements of a well-crafted resume and employing effective resume evaluation techniques are vital for HR professionals and hiring managers. By utilizing the best practices outlined in this guide, you can identify qualified candidates and contribute to building strong, diverse, and successful teams. Stay updated with emerging trends and technologies in resume writing to enhance your evaluation process.