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Screening Resumes: Great Candidates or Just Great Writers?

As a hiring manager, you have to have to decide, based on a résumé, who should be interviewed. There’s no foolproof formula for telling an honest résumé from an exercise in creative writing, but here are red flags to watch for:
Lack of focus. Beware the candidate whose career summary or, worse, job objective claims he or she is the ultimate generalist. Lack of specificity can indicate a lack of commitment.
Long-term jobs. Working for the same company for 10 years or more isn’t necessarily a killer if there has been significant internal movement. But if the candidate has spent more than three or four years in the same job, it may be a sign that he or she lacks ambition and drive.
Lateral moves. A candidate who’s had essentially the same job with three or more organizations could be someone who’s stopped looking for challenges or isn’t interested in developing new skills (or someone who’s been forced to move on for performance-related reasons).
Rounded numbers and weasel words. Look for specifics. What does “substantially increased” revenue really mean? Beware of vague language as well: What does “enhanced” mean, for example.
Responsibilities without a title. A candidate who claims to have run a department, but whose job title was “assistant,” may be exaggerating his or her role. Or the person may have worked for an incompetent manager. Find out before you hire.
Superman/Superwoman. Some candidates inflate job results; others overstate job responsibilities hoping that the hiring manager will see him or her as a bargain. Maybe the candidate really is being underutilized and is looking for a challenge. Or maybe he or she has an inflated sense of self-worth that wouldn’t mesh with your present team, in which case you should steer clear.