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Agent Recruiting: You can’t judge a person by their resume

As a recruiter, I see hundreds of resumes a week. I am quickly scanning for key titles, duties and achievements, as well as spelling and grammatical errors, before moving on to the next contender.

A resume that stands out piques my interest for a bit longer than the standard six seconds (yes, it’s true, most recruiters and hiring managers only look at a resume for an average of six seconds before deciding whether to keep or reject). 

One thing I have learned about resumes is that they rarely reflect candidates accurately. I have come across beautifully crafted resumes with eye-catching formats and well-written descriptions, only to speak with the candidate on the phone to discover a lot of their work experience – such as previous job titles and duties – has been embellished, misrepresented or even fabricated. 

How does this happen? One factor could be that candidates sometimes hire writing services to create impressive resumes that will stand out from the crowd. While a professional CV may grab a hiring manager’s attention, it can be a hinderance if it does not accurately reflect the candidate’s skills and experience. A professional resume does not help the candidate through the interview process. If a candidate cannot explain or expand upon the content of their resume during an interview, it is likely that the resume was written by someone else, and the duties and capabilities listed are not entirely accurate. 

Another danger of professionally written resumes is that they do not reflect the candidate’s writing ability and vernacular. The applicant may write a cover letter to accompany their resume that doesn’t match their writing style, since the resume and cover letter are written by two different people. A mismatched resume and cover letter is often the first sign that you have a professionally written resume in your hands. A candidate’s writing style is an important consideration, particularly if the position you are screening them for involves producing written communications on behalf of you or your business.

Professional resumes are great at helping candidates stand out from the crowd, but they shouldn’t be relied upon to inform hiring decisions. It’s great that the candidate has attracted your attention. Now you need to dig deeper during the interview process to disseminate the information in their resume. If the skills and experience on the resume is exaggerated or untrue, the truth will come out during the interview process. If you think a candidate is strong but suspect that their resume is professionally written, consider assigning a writing task for them to complete during an interview. Then you can assess their writing skills and style based on a piece that you know with 100 per cent certainty was written by the candidate themselves and not a paid professional.

As a Realtor, team or brokerage, you may not be privy to the deceptions a candidate could use to get their foot in the door. I caution all hiring manager and recruiters to always scrutinize the most alluring and professional-looking resumes with a discerning eye. A hire based on erroneous information is not likely to serve your organization well.