Do Better Hiring - The RecruitLoop Blog

6 Ways Recruiters Can Use Resumes and Cover Letters

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Nelma Lumme. Her opinions are her own.

Being an interviewer in charge of employing staff can often be frustrating. You are representing both your company and the future employees you are recruiting. This means that you have to balance between personal feelings about the candidate, your company’s expectations, and the competencies of the candidates. Worst of all – some candidates make you doubt whatever information they have listed in their cover letter and resume.

Sometimes it’s just your gut talking and the candidate is simply nervous, but other times you can’t shake the feeling of something being off.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways that you can validate the candidate’s resume and cover letter. There is no shame in checking these things in order to avoid any unpleasant situations later on.

1. Consulting your co-workers

While you may have experience as an interviewer, perhaps someone else in the organisation knows more practical information about the position you are recruiting for. This means that you should always share information about potential candidates with your coworkers.

Whether the resume or cover letter is true or false depends on the jargon used by the candidate, the vocabulary and the listing of their previous experience. All of this information can be further explored during an interview. Before getting there, however, narrow the list of potential candidates down by working together with your coworkers.

The people you are hiring may well become a part of your team tomorrow – so co-workers expertise should definitely be included in the decision-making process. That way, you will have a greater perspective of the potential candidate you are reviewing.

2. Verifying the credentials

One of the simplest ways to check if the resume and cover letter are true or false is by looking up the credentials that the candidate has listed. Whatever company, branch or volunteering organization is listed can easily be found online and called up to verify your candidate.

Believe it or not, sometimes people exaggerate their abilities, previous work experience or the duration of their internships just so they can appear more impressive. This is misrepresentation and you should take it seriously. However, even if the candidate has exaggerated some of their facts, they still might be worthy of an interview.

Never dismiss anyone based on rushed decisions and always consult the people and companies listed in the cover letter. If there are none, even checking the university and the professors in charge of your candidate’s majors is a good way to start the process.

3. Conducting online checks

Some candidates are very literate and are accustomed to writing papers, while others might not be. Some candidates might even be using an online cover letter template and sending them in mass to different companies.

Candidates such as these should be dismissed entirely since they haven’t even taken the time to write a letter themselves. Depending on the position that you are hiring for, you should carefully consider if a candidate is worth your while if they have written their cover letter using outside help. We are all guilty of such things every now and then, so take all factors into consideration before making a decision.

4. Preparing for the interview

One of the worst mistakes you can make as a recruiter is to go into the interview blindly without any preparation. Take time to fully outline your interview for each of the candidates that you are considering. Not all candidates have the same personality and working habits, so try to detect their behavior based on the style of their resume and cover letter.

You should prepare the questions so that the interview doesn’t take forever to conduct.

You could even follow an interview guide based on the resume and cover letter and take notes using a template you have set up beforehand. This will give you a much clearer picture as to whether they are fit to join your company or not.

5. Testing your candidate

One of the ways that larger companies assess potential new employees is by conducting tests during the interview process. Some companies even conduct group interviews to hire new talent because they are looking for strong teamwork and problem-solving skills which may not be outlined in their application.

Testing a candidate (either through some kind of skills assessment or group interview / role-play scenario) will quickly reveal if the information contained in the resume and cover letter is accurate. Give your candidate sufficient time to solve the problems that you present them with and analyze the results with your coworkers.

Some questions don’t have definitive answers and problem-solving is always a trait that you should look for in candidates. By testing them in their respective fields you will get a clearer picture of their abilities and if their cover letter information is correct.

6. Following up with candidates after the interview

Before you consider making an offer to a candidate, you might want to prepare some follow-up questions based on the results of their interview and any assessments. 

The questions can revolve around their personal feedback, the results of their test or the general impressions you have of them as a person. This is a good way to circle back to the information intially presented in the resume and cover letter.

The truth is that you will never be completely certain about someone’s character and motivation. Candidates are all unique individuals with dreams and aspirations. Checking if a candidate’s cover letter or resume is true or false will come down to your ability to judge someone based on a piece of paper and a few conversations.

It will take some time before you are adept at detecting false information and being a good judge of character. All you can do until that is practise your analytical thinking skills and look for traits that will be useful in your company.

Nelma Lumme

Nelma Lumme was born in Tampere, Finland. After her graduation from School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Tampere, she moved to Chicago, IL. Now Nelma is a freelance writer. Her hobbies are cinema, jogging, psychology and blogging.

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