Screening, Assessment, Interviewing

5 Things to Look for When Reviewing a Thin Résumé

When looking for potential candidates, you’ve probably come across a thin résumé—a résumé that could be promising, if only it contained more information.resume

When reviewing a thin résumé, the inclination may to be move on. But is this a mistake?

Résumé Assistance

It helps to keep in mind that there is a lot of conflicting information about résumé preparation out there. For example, job seekers are sometimes advised to provide detail, while they are also advised to fit everything on one page.

Because job seekers are told to include employment history, their résumés may focus on timelines more than the tasks.

Among other advice they may have received is to provide functional job titles, for the purpose of résumé scanning. This is confusing to people unfamiliar with recruiting and HR technology (which is most of the population).

Résumé templates, designed to help, may create more confusion. There are countless examples. How does a person choose?

The answer for the overwhelmed individual may be to keep the résumé brief and on point … which is how you end up with a thin résumé.

Looking for Substance

The first thing to recognize is that a thin résumé doesn’t necessarily mean the potential candidate lacks substance. It may simply mean that he or she isn’t good at résumé writing.

It’s your mission, if you accept it—and in a tight labor market it’s a good idea to accept it—is to determine if the person is worth considering. How do you know?

Here are a few things to look for when reviewing a thin résumé.

  1. Relevant job titles. Presuming the résumé includes job titles, try and determine whether these titles are a match for the job for which you’re recruiting. If the titles suggest lesser experience, do the titles at least fall within the same job category?
  2. Applicable or related industry experience. If a résumé indicates that the individual has worked for a competitor in your industry, he or she could have valuable knowledge and skills that will allow for success in the job—even though the résumé doesn’t share this information. Work experience in a related industry suggests the same may be true.
  3. Career progression. Does the résumé show career progression, demonstrated by a series of positions with greater responsibilities? A thin résumé may not provide the details you ideally would like to see, but job titles can offer insight.
  4. Company tenure. Does the résumé indicate that the individual has been with the same company for several years? Has he or she also worked elsewhere for a respectable number of years? This suggests stability, as well as the possibility that the person is a valued employee.
  5. Education and training. Presuming education and training are included on the résumé, you want to look for evidence of skills necessary for the job. A degree in accounting for an accounting position is an obvious example. Meanwhile, if dates are included in this category, they may tip you off to something else about the individual. For example, if education dates overlap with work experience, you know the person pursued a degree or additional training while working. This speaks to dedication and ambition.

Although a detailed résumé may be preferable, a thin résumé can also serve as an introduction to a potential job candidate—if you take the time to read between the lines.

Paula Paula Santonocito, Contributing Editor for Recruiting Daily Advisor, is a business journalist specializing in employment issues. She is the author of more than 1,000 articles on a wide range of human resource and career topics, with an emphasis on recruiting and hiring. Her articles have been featured in many global and domestic publications and information outlets, referenced in academic and legal publications as well as books, and translated into several languages.