Guide: Review resumes

Introduction

Just as resume writing is undertaken by job seekers everywhere, resume reviewing is a ubiquitous task for hiring managers. The purpose of a resume is to get a candidate past that first screen and into an interview. It can be difficult to judge a potential candidate by a single sheet of paper, but a resume can help you efficiently compare many applicants to the posted job qualifications you’re looking for and find the most promising candidates. Google’s resume screening team reviews nearly three million resumes a year from almost every country, in search of the best talent.

Resumes are certainly an imperfect means of screening talent. There's a lot of room for unconscious bias to color the information. Research tells us that subtle indicators - names, clubs, addresses, school, previous employment, race, parental status, socio-economic status, etc - may unconsciously affect expectations and assessment of a candidate. Time pressure may also lead to unconscious bias and affect decision making. Therefore, a structured and consistent approach to reviewing resumes can be beneficial.

Guide: Review resumes

Screen for consistency and impact

When initially reviewing a resume, here are some of the things Google looks for:

  • Polished application: Examining the details of a resume is a great test of a candidate's attention to detail.
  • Quantifiable impact, contributions, or accomplishments: Whether it’s increases in sales, patents filed, or academic awards, Google likes to see measured, definitive experiences.
  • A clear timeline of employment: Knowing all the jobs and experiences a candidate has had is useful, but gaps in employment history shouldn’t be a deal breaker. Research suggests that individuals may unfairly stigmatize candidates who have been jobless for a time, no matter how briefly.
Guide: Review resumes

Review for qualifications

The process of reviewing resumes starts well before receiving the first applications. It starts when writing a job description and creating a list of minimum and preferred qualifications for the role:

  • Minimum qualifications are basic, certifiable, typically non-negotiable qualifications that a candidate must have to be considered for the role (e.g., education degrees, professional accreditations).
  • Preferred qualifications are the preferred, non-mandatory skills and experience of an ideal candidate. These are often more qualitative than the minimum qualifications (e.g., demonstrated proficiency in persuasive communications, teaching background preferred).

Reviewing applications against the same set of posted qualifications can help make your hiring more efficient, more fair, and more thorough. Using a firm standard makes it easy to sort out applications that don’t meet any of the qualifications, those that just meet the minimum, and those that have many of the preferred qualifications as well.

Guide: Review resumes

Match the right candidate with the right role

When reviewing resumes for one role, Google considers the hiring needs of similar roles elsewhere in the company. If you have many comparable job opportunities posted at once, a candidate might not know which ones best suit their qualifications and interests. Takes steps to ensure strong candidates have the opportunity to apply for additional roles.

Guide: Review resumes

Revisit great, rejected applications

Sometimes a great applicant comes along but the timing isn’t right. You might have just filled an open role with another candidate, or this great applicant could be good for your company overall, but not quite right for an open role.

In 2010, Google ran an experiment to revisit some of the rejected software engineer resumes that were borderline cases. These borderline candidates had a few more years of experience and Google's hiring needs had evolved.

This showed the hiring team that it’s critical to give all candidates, even those you reject, a great application experience. They may be potential hires in the future.