By Roy Maclaughlin

With the competition on the jobs market getting tougher and tougher every day, candidates start utilizing as many tools as they possibly can in order to attract the attention of target companies. This provides employers with a great opportunity to better evaluate candidates and improve the process of making hiring decisions. The fact that in average it takes 42 days to fill in the opening and with average cost-per-hire going over $4,000, as stated in Human Benchmark Capital Report by SHRM, the way hiring managers evaluate and select candidates becomes crucial for small businesses and their ultimate success.

There are many different ways how to approach hiring process. Multiple articles have been written on how to find a dream employee because in the end it all boils down to making the right hiring decision. As of now, a resume is still considered the most popular document candidates provide in order to apply for a job. That doesn’t mean though that employers should limit themselves to this document alone. Apart from resumes, LinkedIn profiles remain the most powerful marketing tool hiring managers should pay attention to. Even though these two may appear to be identical, they are often not.

What to Look For In a Resume?

Roles, achievements, work experience, skills, education, format, language – all of these things are important when assessing candidates. However, every hiring manager knows it by default. It doesn’t take a great professional to recognize which section matters on a resume. Considering the importance of hiring the right person from the first attempt, any HR should understand that each candidate is more than what he/she says on a resume. In other words, employers need to learn how to read between the lines in order to make the decision making process more efficient. Here are some of the key things employer should take into account when assessing candidates.

Relevance. The nature of this document assumes that candidates can tailor it to the needs of a particular employer. Sometimes, job seekers share their entire life stories on a single file which rarely (if ever) makes them attractive candidates. Relevance is the key. If a candidate didn’t care enough to check the job ad and tailor the content to match specific needs, don’t bother scheduling an interview. Most likely, you will do nothing but waste your time. On the other hand, if you read a resume that is filled with relevant accomplishment, work experience, and skills, it means that its owner took time to understand your needs in order to prepare an effective presentation.

Accomplishments. There is a difference between doing and achieving something. Unfortunately, most job seekers focus on what they did in the past – the list of routine responsibilities isn’t what defines a great employee. If you are after an effective and results-oriented candidate, pay attention to those who focused on quantifiable results. Those who did their homework and took time to list measurable achievements are people who can offer more than just standard resume clichés.

Career Development. Before making a decision to invite a job seeker for an interview (let alone hire), it is vitally important to understand the context of one’s career journey. When reviewing a resume, ask yourself whether the candidate has been demonstrating evidence of decreasing or increasing responsibility or maybe the one has reached a plateau. Frequent job changes and career shifts can also help you understand where the applicant is coming from. 

What to Look For In a LinkedIn Profile?

Many recruiters check online profiles of the candidates. However, with smart job seekers cleaning up their social network profiles, Facebook or Twitter may not always be a good help in this case. LinkedIn, however, is usually never tailored in order to apply for a particular job. This gives a nice opportunity for employers as they look how to assess the candidates. Unfortunately, the majority of employers assume that LinkedIn profiles are nothing but online resume versions and one shouldn’t really waste extra time on checking them. While it is true that much of the content can be the same, the significance of a LinkedIn profile is that it can offer more than a resume. Therefore, hiring managers are making a mistake when they choose to ignore this channel of communication since it can help better understand applicants and where they are coming from. This in turn would help recognize talents and make the right hiring decision. The question is how can LinkedIn help and how is it different from a resume?

It tells a bigger story. LinkedIn profiles usually contain more details, vivid pictures, and context. It is a place where job seekers can add more color to their professional journey (which they can’t do on their resumes due to the nature of its format). It’s not just about portfolio items and more skills… LinkedIn allows one to explain more in regard to work experience and accomplishments. For instance, if resume contains information that the candidate “increased sales by 43% through initiating new referral program“, LinkedIn provides more room to explain how the candidate managed to achieve that effect. Job seekers do go into more details when describing their accomplishments on LinkedIn. So reviewing a LinkedIn profile can potentially give an insight into things you would never see on a resume.

LinkedIn profiles are not tailored. Job seekers who really care about the quality of their applications always tailor their resumes and cover letters to match the company’s needs. And this is great! LinkedIn profiles though are almost never tailored for this reason which helps employers see things that are often left out from resumes and cover letters. The thing is that people try to appeal to a wide audience in their LinkedIn profiles (a tailored resume does the opposite) and as a result they include crowd-pleasing items that you won’t find on a resume. This is where one can find information about one’s narrow expertise as well as general items which can be extremely useful for employers to know.

It can help verify candidate’s claims. When reviewing a resume, information is taken at face value (at least until an interview meeting). In other words, employers have to do extra work in order to verify information on a resume if they have any doubts. With LinkedIn candidates can actually have some claims verified. LinkedIn is the place where people can show, don’t just tell about their skills. For example, one can say that he loves to write content but if the profile has no new publications then most likely it’s not quite true. Another thing how employers can verify certain skills is to check recommendations from former supervisors or managers. There are obviously more bells and whistles on LinkedIn that can help verify candidate’s claims. It’s only the matter how much one wants to know.

LinkedIn helps understand candidate’s personality better. Robotic language that employers find in resumes can unlikely tell much about one’s personality. Since candidate’s personality often defines whether he or she can be successful in the team, companies always pay attention to how candidates express themselves. A conversational tone or even pepper in details that candidates sometimes use when they write their LinkedIn profiles can make a big difference. Companies are looking to hire humans, not robots after all. Besides, LinkedIn profile format allows its owner to talk about what one loves doing, not just what he/she does (which is priceless for hiring managers).

Getting the Whole Picture

That being said, it is highly beneficial for employers and decision makers to review both resumes and LinkedIn profiles. Although quite often, these two look identical, there certainly will be times when hiring managers will be able to get a better picture about the candidate using both tools. Despite the fact, that resume and LinkedIn profile contain career information about its owner, the way the information is presented allows recruiters better understand where each candidate is coming from professionally. Obviously, one can choose not to go beyond a resume and cover letter as checking online profiles seems like an extra work. However, this very extra mile pays off in the long run as it is always easier to spend more time on selection process rather that to start over the entire thing from scratch when the new hire leaves in a matter of weeks. Wrong hiring decision cost companies a fortune.

Having worked for 7 years as a professional writer at Prime-Resume, Roy Maclaughlin has become one of the most prominent company’s leaders today. From helping to overcome various career challenges to providing guidance in launching new career services, Roy has become instrumental in making a great difference both at Prime-Resume as well as in the careers of its clients. Prime-Resume has been serving job seekers for over 8 years now providing resume writing as well as other career assistance services.

LinkedIn stock photo by tongcom photographer/Shutterstock