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Reading Between the Lines – What the Resume Isn’t Telling You

As a hiring manager, you don’t have more than 15 seconds to scan a resume. As a result, you need to know what to look for to gain an idea of how qualified a candidate is for a position. Since you want to know more about a candidate than just their knowledge, skills, and experience, you must be able to interpret information not directly stated on their resume. Although this skill takes time to develop, you can learn to do so with practice.

Here are some qualities a resume can reveal about a candidate that might not be immediately apparent.

Attention to Detail

A resume that’s well formatted and tells a clear story shows the candidate pays attention to detail. When the ideas organically flow together and the information categories are meaningful, you know the candidate thinks clearly and organizes their priorities. A targeted resume that highlights the skills, experience, and qualifications listed in your job posting reveals the candidate reviewed your business needs and showed how they can fill them. A resume free of spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors demonstrates that they carefully looked over their work before submitting it.

Soft Skills

A well-written resume reveals the candidate’s soft skills. Knowing how well they interact with coworkers is an important key to success in a role. You need a team player who understands the importance of communication, developing professional relationships, and contributing to the betterment of the team and organization. Pay attention to whether the candidate presents wins as individual effort or collaboration. Collaboration is what you want.


Use a resume to look for clues to the candidate’s source of motivation. Search for a candidate who finds ways to overcome challenges. Seek verbs such as “led,” “developed,” or “designed.” Determine the results of the candidate’s efforts, such as percentage increases or decreases, numbers of people served or products made, or related metrics. Knowing the candidate followed up shows accountability and desire to track efforts and progress. You want someone who finds answers to problems and continues working until they’re resolved.

Job Progression

Focus on a candidate’s work history to uncover job progression. Look at how long they spent with each employer and whether they moved up in responsibilities. A candidate’s titles should increase along with their accomplishments. See whether the candidate thinks about the big picture, how they’re regarded in their field, and their capability for growth. You want an ambitious candidate willing to take on new challenges and solve bigger problems long-term.

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