Resumes are Just Marketing Documents: Three Ways to Discover What You Need to Know

If your interview process involves walking the candidates through their work experience using their resume, then you’re doing it wrong.

When was the last time you reviewed a candidate’s resume and discovered that the reason they left their last job was because they were passed over for promotion due to a history of insubordination? Have you everĀ been informed via resume that the applicant treats his or her coworkers poorly in stressful situations? Or that they’re apt to blame others when projects fail to achieve that desired outcomes?

You’ve never discovered facts like these on a resume for the simple fact that resumes are simply marketing documents. A resume is a sales tool, designed to secure a job interview. Job applicants are naturally inclined to push the limits of what’s factual, and to omit information that would reduce their likelihood of landing the job.

Why, then, rely on a resume to guide your discussions with the candidate? Here are three ways you can ditch the resume and focus on what really matters when evaluating job candidates:

Use an outcomes-based Job Profile. Job descriptions are wholly inadequate for evaluating candidate fit. Instead, use a time-bound, outcomes-based Job Profile to determine their likelihood of success in the role. When you rely on a job description to guide your evaluation process, you’re measuring the wrong factors because most job descriptions merely describe the activities performed in the role on a daily basis; there’s no mention of what’s actually expected to be achieved, or by when.

Job Profiles answer the following question: What specific, measurable outcomes need to be achieved by 30/60/90/360 days in order for me to be happy I hired this individual? Examples of a thirty day outcome might be, “Has completed all required manufacturer certifications,” or “shadows a minimum of fifteen sales presentations.” An example of a 12-month outcome might be, “Produce $400,000 of new gross margin from newly acquired accounts.”

Contrast these statements with those typically found on a job description. You typically see phrases such as, “Contact prospective customers and present solutions.” While that’s a description of what’s happening in a daily basis, it’s not a measurement that defines success.

(For my free, downloadable Job Profile click here.)

Use a scripted interview guide. Once you’re basing your evaluation on specific performance outcomes using a Job Profile, you can use structured interviews to uncover what you need to know to make an informed decision.

A properly structured interview guide accomplishes three main goals. First, an interview script will ensure that you are asking the same questions of each candidate in the exact same way. In addition to helping you stay out of legal hot water, the script will ensure that you’re evaluating the correct attributes. Second, a scripted interview guide will keep your conversation on track. You’ll know when it’s time to wrap up the conversation because you’ve learned what you needed to learn. Third, the candidate will be much more likely to leave your discussion with a favorable opinion of your organization. In today’s tight labor market, you’re selling to candidates as much as they are selling to you.

By using a scripted interview guide, you are delivering a more seamless interview experience for them, and are communicating, “We are a well-run organization.”

Cross-reference the resume with LinkedIn. In my experience, candidates have a much lower rate of falsehoods on their LinkedIn profile than they do on their resume file; perhaps this phenomenon is due to the fact that LinkedIn profiles are publicly viewable.

When reviewing a resume for the first time, I will immediately locate their LinkedIn profile and see what lines up (and what doesn’t). Are there gaps in the dates of employment on the LinkedIn profile, but not on the resume? Does their resume list that they’re presently employed by a particular company, but LinkedIn shows that they ended their employment a month ago? Is there a discrepancy in the job title, or description of the job duties performed? Any one of these items is a red flag that the candidate is massaging the facts to present themselves in a better light.

Remember: resumes are just marketing documents. Utilize these three techniques to get a much more accurate evaluation of the candidate’s fit for job at hand.