Genuine or Not? How Honest Are Resumes and Cover Letters?

Standing His Ground” by Max and Dee Bernt – used under CC BY 2.0 / re-sized from original

The Hiring Process

Although there are different industries and professions, the hiring process remains fairly similar and unchanged. For someone hoping to land a job, they turn on their computer and open a word processor to start typing where they have worked in their past on their resume. Some of these job seekers may keep an updated version of their work history on LinkedIn and it becomes a matter of copy and pasting into a well-formatted document.

Then comes the hardest part to decipher: the cover letter.  Thoughts run through the mind of the applicant like “Does the potential employer want a simple ‘about me’ or essentially a re-creation of an epic like Beowulf?”  This uncertainty isn’t only in the minds of the applicants, but also the hiring managers that have to read the documents.”  Is this applicant really a good fit? Did they add lots of fluff?  And if they are as good of a team player as they say they are, how come their past seven tenures  last no more than two months long each?”

Minimizing The Guesswork

Fortunately for potential employers, here is a list of five ways to minimize the confusion.

  1. Have a hiring team instead of one person screening

    By increasing the amount of people in the hiring team (even by one), the added opinions will help find the right candidate more objectively rather than by a gut feeling.  Also, in having more than one person on the hiring team, the hiring managers would be able to consider with more thought by verbalizing their reasoning behind their selection to other team members.

  2. Look for the ideal candidate from existing team members

    Every manager has an ideal candidate in mind.  One that never shows up late, never goes on vacation during busy seasons, learns quickly, gets things done efficiently, proven smart with a PhD, never gets sick, and communicates great with every single team member.  The matter of fact however, is how unlikely that ideal candidate will appear for that role.  Even if that ideal candidate shows up, they may leave the team after a short tenure because they are overqualified for the position. Positioning ourselves in reality, a hiring manager may be better off finding current employees that they think are doing a great job rather than the “out-of-a-dream” employee.

  3. Look for the not so ideal candidate from existing team members

    Just like looking for the employee of the month, check to see which members of the team are less productive and mark down which traits those employees may have that influence certain behavior.  Combine this information with that of an ideal employee, and you now have a nice benchmark for hiring.

  4. Implement some sort of testable standard

    In the effort for full disclosure, Prevue HR job-fit assessments use standardized job fit benchmarks for different roles. But trust me when I say we aren’t trying to toot our own horn! Think about the different applicants that say they are outgoing on their cover letter.  How would you compare Suzie’s and Johnny’s level of assertiveness based on what they wrote?  These soft skills aren’t quantifiable unless you have some form of standard.  Sometimes the candidate that may be more outgoing and can create a great impression during the interview may turn out to be a disaster, as opposed to the more suitable but introverted applicant – simply because the hiring was done based on gut feeling.

  5. Match the employee to the task

    This may seem like very common sense but oftentimes get missed. During interviews, many hiring managers ask the same few questions: “Tell me about yourself”, “How did you hear about our team”, “What makes you want to work with our company.”  Yet, if the candidate was being fully honest and direct, the answers to those questions would be “I am First Name, and I’m looking for work”, “Found out about the team on a job board” and “I need money.”  Instead of focusing on questions about the candidate, find out how the candidate fits into the job. Remember, skills can be taught through mentoring and training, but look at their interest when you ask how they can fit in.  An example would be, “Based on your current experience, how would you like to be trained in answering client calls?”  This will allow the candidate to better understand the role as well as see where their interests are.  Maybe they aren’t a fit for the interviewed role, but better suited for another open position.  Of course, this would also require a very observant interviewer.

What about those on the job searching side of the equation?  Check out our post next week on “How to Find Work” and follow us on Twitter to stay up to date with all our posts.

Comments? Questions?  Let us know what you think.


Post By Acwin Wong